How to Avoid Resume Mistakes

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February 13, 2021
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min read

Given the current uncertainty surrounding the job market, now more than ever is the time to go through your resume with a fine tooth comb. Even if you aren't currently looking for a job, it doesn't hurt to check through your resume and make sure there aren't mistakes or errors that can cost you a job later down the line.

The following article will take you through some of the biggest and most common mistakes people make when writing their resume. Hiring managers will pick up on these errors, and they are entirely avoidable, so pay close attention and make sure that your resume is free of them.

Spelling and Grammar

It's an obvious starting point but such an important one. Spelling and grammar can make or break a quality resume. Everyone knows how important these two things are, yet errant commas, rogue capitalization, and other errors still creeps into many resumes.

The first step is to make sure you have some sort of software that can easily identify and correct the most blatant of mistakes. Missing punctuation, typos, and other grammatical errors will get picked up with minimum effort.

The next step is to carefully read through your resume multiple times. Reading aloud will often help with spotting any mistakes.

Attention to detail is important during this so don't be tempted to skim read. At this stage, you can also look out for missing words and incorrect tenses that your spell checking software may not have flagged up.

Finally, ask a friend or colleague to go through your resume themselves. Other people often pick up on mistakes we miss ourselves, so another set of eyes will help a lot in eliminating the most basic of resume mistakes.

Whether it be in the contact information section, the work experience section, or even a misspelled email address, one of the easiest resume mistakes to avoid is simply typos, so be sure to groom your resume.

Language Style

Let's talk about a more sophisticated mistake, but an entirely avoidable one nonetheless. The style in which you write says a lot about you, whether you like it or not.

Your hiring manager is likely to make some assumptions about you based on this, among other things. One key aspect of your language style that you will want to get right, is active vs passive voice.

It is generally recommended to avoid passive voice where possible. Writing a resume in passive voice projects less confidence, often requires more words, and is less likely to be engaging. Take note of the difference between the following examples:

Passive voice: The group project was led by me.

Active voice: I led the group project.

Notice how the active voice is more assertive, more succinct, and generally more pleasant to read. Make sure to go through your resume with a fine tooth comb in order to whittle out any unnecessary passive sentences.

If you aren't certain of which sections to include or how to best phrase them, you may find our resume examples and guidance helpful to get your language style worked out.


If your resume is difficult to read, your hiring managers are going to form a less positive opinion of you, and your job search is only likely to be extended. Keep your professional resume simple, clear, and easy to read. The goal of a resume is to convey as much relevant to the job information as possible in as few words as you can.

Formatting is boring and often annoying but it's very important. One of the most common resume mistakes is to take a "that will do" attitude towards the presentation of your resume.

Read your resume and if it's not easy to do so, make it easier. Use bullet points, legible typefaces, and appropriate colors to make your resume professional and readable.

Resume Length

As touched on above, the goal of a resume is to present you in a good light and inform your prospective employer about your experience and suitability for a role in as few words as possible. Two pages are often enough to do this and any more is likely to be overkill.

Many people want to list every job or role they've ever had. Employers don't want to see this.

Carefully select what goes on your resume and what is left on the cutting table. Avoid using too many words to explain experience or job descriptions and always aim for concision.

Microsoft Word will not tell you how to make things more concise so this will be something you'll have to work out for yourself. Your years of work experience can be summarized in a few short sentences or a well-written job description. Only include skills that you genuinely possess and are likely to be using in the role you're applying for.

Contact Information

Let's assume that you've checked all the right boxes and have impressed the hiring manager with your accomplishments and a solid resume. They are all set to contact you and offer you the position when they realize your phone number isn't on the resume--or worse, the wrong number. This is an easy mistake to avoid that could unnecessarily complicate the job applications procedure for no good reason.

Include your name, address, email address, and phone number at the top of your resume. Your years of experience and suitability for the job will count for nothing if your hiring manager isn't able to contact you.

Check out 5 more common resume mistakes:


Job seekers will tell you all about the difficulties of finding a job but writing a professional resume shouldn't be one of them. Avoiding the common resume mistakes outlined above will go a long way in helping you with your job search and will be one less thing to worry about.

The tips outlined above are very basic so there is no excuse for missing out on a job because of a resume mistake. Just remember to check multiple times and make sure everything necessary is done.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common formatting errors to avoid on a resume?

Common formatting errors include inconsistent font types and sizes, excessive use of bold or italics, and not aligning text properly. To avoid these, stick to one or two professional fonts, use bold and italics sparingly for emphasis, and ensure all your margins and bullet points are aligned throughout the document for a clean, professional look.

How can I ensure my resume is ATS-friendly?

To make your resume ATS-friendly, use a straightforward format with clear headings, avoid tables and graphics, and incorporate relevant keywords from the job description. Also, save your resume as a Word document or a plain-text file to ensure the ATS can read it effectively.

What is the ideal length for a resume, and how can I keep it concise?

The ideal resume length is typically one page for early-career professionals and two pages for those with more extensive experience. Keep it concise by focusing on relevant work experience, using bullet points to highlight achievements, and removing outdated or irrelevant information that doesn't add value to your application for the specific role you're targeting.

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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