Resume Disasters: 7 Bad Resume Examples To Avoid

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September 18, 2023
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min read

A good resume does more than list your skills and qualifications. It gives hiring managers and recruiters a clear picture of your potential, ambition, and experience. 

In a resume, content is king. But if good content is overshadowed by poor formatting, visual, and grammatical choices (among others…), it may affect your chances of being called for an interview.

Want to create a strong resume that doesn’t land in the rejection pile? Let’s explore excerpts from seven bad resume examples to help you identify and avoid some of the most common resume mistakes.

3 key takeaways 

  • 7 common resume mistakes to avoid
  • More effective approaches for potential resume blunders
  • How Teal’s AI Resume Builder can help you build a better professional resume

1. Spelling and grammar mistakes

Stepping into a job interview wearing mismatched shoes can be a faux pas—kind of like presenting a resume or cover letter full of grammar and spelling errors. It can give off a negative first impression and may lead recruiters or hiring managers to assume that you don’t pay attention to detail.

Your resume and cover letter need to be cohesive and error-free. Even a small grammatical error or typo can overshadow your qualifications. Resume proofreading is important; remember to run it through a spellcheck program and manually review it for errors. It’s also helpful to have a friend, family member, or coworker scan it over to catch any errors you might have missed.


Results-driven Project Manager with 4 years of expereince leading and managing multiple projects simultaneously, developing and maintaining project timelines and budgets, and implementing project management methodologys. Successful track record of increasing project completion rates, acheiving cost savings, an ensuring timely delivery of projects.


Project Manager

3/2022 – Present

Universal Ventures

  • Led and managed multiple projects simultaneously, resulting in an 15% increase in project completion rates.
  • Developed and maintained project timelines, budgets, resulting in an average project cost savings of 20%.


  • Agile/Scrum Methodologys
  • Project Planning & Execution
  • Project Mangement


Master of Science in Project Management


Boston University

While some of these errors may seem insignificant, they can showcase a lack of attention to detail. Be sure always to double- and triple-check your resume for grammar and spelling errors before submitting it to a hiring manager.

Pro Tip: The Teal AI Resume Builder includes a free spelling and grammar tool to help you get it right—every word, every time. 

Combating bad resume examples with Teal's grammar and spelling tool
Always check your resume for spelling and grammar errors.

2. Showcasing a lack of work experience

The beginning of your career journey is both exciting and nerve-wracking—and an empty work experience section can make the job search even more stressful.

While a lack of work experience might imply that you're a novice without much to offer, that's rarely the truth for young professionals. 

Instead of emphasizing a short or irrelevant work history, choose the best resume format to showcase what you do bring to the table—highlighting achievements, academic projects, and transferable hard and soft skills—instead of your lack of experience.


Work Experience

1. Sales Assistant, Taluka Paper - June 2023 to August 2023

  • Assisted customers with product inquiries and selections.
  • Handled cash register operations and processed customer transactions.


  • Communication
  • Computer applications

Imagine this candidate is a recent graduate aiming for a role in SaaS customer success. Although these bullet points may be true to the position’s basic duties, they don’t speak much to the candidate’s value or the role they’re seeking. 

In this example, it would be better to focus on the transferable skills that someone in customer success would use. 

For example, instead of “Assisted customers with product inquiries and selections,” a more effective bullet point may be something like, 

“Increased monthly sales by 15% by assisting customers with product inquiries and selections, leveraging strong interpersonal communication and QuickBooks Point of Sale.”

Instead of “used the cash register,” the bullet point could focus more on the customer service aspect of the job to align with skills needed in customer success, such as,

“Handled cash register operations and processed customer transactions with a 99.5% accuracy rate, leveraging POS system operations and excellent customer relationship building—increasing customer satisfaction rate to 98%.”

3. Using unprofessional or hard-to-read fonts

Even in more casual or creative industries, your resume should look professional, so stick with a basic, readable font. Fancy, intricate fonts can make your resume hard to read, while casual fonts seem unprofessional.

And don’t go overboard with different fonts for headers, bullet points, and summaries. This can make your resume look chaotic and hard to follow.

4. Incorporating all you've ever done

While you want potential employers to get a clear, comprehensive picture of who you are as a professional, your resume is not an exhaustive memoir of your career. The job of your resume is to showcase the top 10% of your experience that’s 100% relevant to the role you’re applying for. It should be clear, concise, and impactful. 

Instead of taking a hiring manager or recruiter through all the twists and turns of your professional history, take a step back and review the job description to see what they’re really looking for in a candidate. Then, tailor your resume, prioritizing experience, accomplishments, and skills that are relevant to the position and cutting information and details that don’t demonstrate why you’re right for the role. 


Work Experience

1. Intern, TechPlace - Anytown, USA August 2011 - May 2012 (worked Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other Friday)

  • Assisted in software installations
  • Participated in three team meetings
  • Watered office plants

2. Junior Administrative Assistant, Office - Smalltown, USA June 2010 

  • Photocopied 100+ pages daily, once helped with a 105-page document.
  • Answered phones during lunch breaks, precisely between 12:15 PM and 12:45 PM.
  • Refilled the coffee machine and restocked sweeteners.

A good guideline is to focus on the experience that is most relevant to the role you’re applying to. While you may have held brief roles like these, it’s best to focus on the experience that best highlights what you’d bring to the table in the potential new job.

5. Including unnecessary graphics or pictures

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when it comes to resumes, an unwarranted image might cost you your dream job—for a few reasons.

First, applicant tracking systems (ATS) can only parse text. So, for example, if you present your work experience section or skills section as a graph or image, the content won’t be searchable within the ATS. 

Second, hiring managers sort through potentially hundreds of applications. They want to quickly understand your skills, experiences, and unique accomplishments. Visuals can be distracting and make it harder to skim your resume. 

Third, biases are an unfortunate reality, whether they’re subconscious or blatant. While a headshot can help recruiters put a face to the application, it can also make the hiring process less objective.

It comes down to one simple rule: to get your application seen, you want to create an optimized resume for ATS that’s scannable—and this excludes using pictures and graphics.  


Imagine Claudia, a qualified software developer with five years of experience, is applying for a competitive role at a tech firm. Along with her detailed, well-formatted resume, she includes a headshot. 

The hiring manager, David, has an unconscious bias he's unaware of. Claudia looks a lot like someone he knew growing up, and based on her appearance, he makes assumptions about Claudia’s background, age, or even work ethic.

A few days later, another resume lands on David’s desk. This one is from Eldria, who has a similar skill set to Claudia. However, Eldria has not included a headshot. 

David, without any potential biases triggered by a photo, focuses solely on Eldria’s qualifications and experiences. So Eldria gets shortlisted for an interview, while Claudia (despite being equally qualified) does not.

Pro Tip: The free Teal AI Resume Builder offers four resume templates that can be easily parsed by an ATS and read by a human hiring professional. 

6. Poorly formatting your resume

A well-formatted resume isn't just about aesthetics—it’s about making sure that recruiters can easily understand your worth. 

Bullet points, headers, bold text, proper spacing—all of these resume design features help break up information and make your resume skimmable. 


Social Media Manager

Driven and successful Social Media Manager with 4+ years of experience developing and executing campaigns that have driven significant website traffic and generated leads, resulting in a 25% increase in followers and engagement, as well as a 20% increase in conversions across multiple platforms. 

Work Experience

Social Media Manager

3/2022 – Present

White Mountain Holdings

Implemented a successful social media strategy resulting in a 25% increase in followers and engagement across all platforms

Developed and executed campaigns that drove significant website traffic and generated leads, resulting in a 20% increase in conversions

Collaborated with cross-functional teams to develop and execute social media content that aligned with overall branding and marketing goals

Social Media Strategist

3/2020 – 3/2022

Redshift Technologies

Developed and managed social media calendars, resulting in a 15% increase in engagement and followers

Collaborated with design and content teams to develop visually compelling and engaging social media content

Social Media Specialist

3/2019 – 3/2020

Summit Solutions Group

Assisted senior social media managers in developing and executing social media campaigns and strategies.

Collaborated with cross-functional teams to gather information and create social media content.

Skills and competencies

Social Media Strategy Development

Social Media Campaign Planning & Execution

Social Media Calendar Management

Social Media Content Creation

Social Media Insights & Metrics

As you can see, without using any bold, italics, underlining, or bullet points to separate sections of your resume, it can be tough to tell the difference between your resume title and your “Skills” section. Remember, recruiters see a lot of resumes, so make yours as easy to skim as possible!

7. Including too many buzzwords

"Synergy," "leveraged," "optimized." While these words have their place, overstuffing your resume with buzzwords can make it seem insincere. It's important to be genuine and use terms that truly reflect your experience and skills.



Global Strategic Visionary MegaCorp Intl., Big City, USA - 2022 to Present

  • Synergized cross-functional teams to elevate stakeholder engagement and maximize ROI.
  • Leveraged state-of-the-art techniques to streamline, optimize, and reinvent the wheel of customer interface processes.
  • Pioneered paradigm-shifting initiatives that transcended traditional business constraints.

Again, these buzzwords aren’t always bad—they have a time and a place. But in a resume, it’s best to use a balance of power and simplicity in terms of vocabulary. It may not be immediately clear what it means to “synergize a cross-functional team,” but it’s a lot easier to understand what it means to “collaborate with cross-functional teams.”

If vocabulary isn’t your forte, don’t worry—you’re not alone! The good news is that Teal’s AI Resume Builder has made it easy for job seekers like you to create powerful resumes that highlight your experience with all the right words. 

As a Teal member, you get real-time feedback and recommendations for how to adjust your resume’s wording to include optimal keywords and measurable descriptions. With Teal, it’s easy to accentuate your strengths and position you as an ideal candidate for the job.

Create better resumes with Teal

A well-formatted, professional, error-free resume is key for any job seeker—but that’s easier said than done! Fortunately, there’s Teal.

Teal's AI Resume Builder can help you build tailored resumes with optimized formatting, clean resume templates, and correct spelling and grammar for every job you apply for. 

Ready for a resume that shows you off as a professional? Sign up today and get started with Teal!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common design mistakes to avoid in a resume?

Common design mistakes include using multiple fonts and colors that can make a resume look unprofessional, overloading it with graphics or images that distract from the content, and neglecting white space which can make the resume appear cluttered. Stick to a clean, professional layout with a consistent font and color scheme to ensure readability.

How can I ensure my resume is tailored to the job I'm applying for?

To tailor your resume, start by carefully reading the job description and noting the skills and experiences required. Make sure to highlight your relevant accomplishments and use keywords from the job description. This shows employers that you have the specific qualifications they're looking for and that you've taken the time to personalize your application.

Is it a bad practice to include personal information on my resume?

Yes, including personal information such as your age, marital status, social security number, or photo can be a bad practice. Not only is it irrelevant to your job qualifications, but it could also lead to unconscious bias. Focus on your professional experience, skills, and education to keep the resume focused on your suitability for the job.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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