Basic errors to avoid when writing your resume

female professional writing a cv

Your resume is a snapshot of your career history and achievements you have made throughout your education and working life. It will be the first thing a prospective employer has to gain an understanding of whether or not they would like to ask you in to interview.

“Your professionalism and enthusiasm can shine through a well-written, formatted and concise resume,” said Martin Fox, Managing Director at Robert Walters.

We look at the most common resume errors and how you can avoid them.

1. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors

“It’s surprising how many resume's we receive contain spelling mistakes and other basic grammatical errors,” continued Fox.

Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can easily be avoided. Submitting a resume with mistakes will look like you’re careless and lack attention to detail.  

Therefore it is crucial to check your resume carefully before you send it. Make sure there aren’t any stray apostrophes (in plural words, such as ‘key performance indicator’s’, for example) and that words which can be spelled differently (such as draught and draft) are in the correct form.

Spell check software can pick up some mistakes but it’s not fool proof. Get someone else to read it before you send your resume to a recruitment consultancy or employer.

Reading your resume backwards word by word can also help to identify typos before you submit your resume.

2. Be specific 

When an employer looks at your resume, they need to know exactly what you have achieved in your previous roles and how this is relevant. If you were responsible for driving business growth, say exactly how you did it and spell out the results you achieved. Detailing additional projects or initiatives you have been involved in can also add significant value to a resume.

Look at the career information you want to include in your resume. Does it say clearly:

1. What your role was?
2. What your responsibilities were?
3. What you achieved?
4. The benefit it delivered to your employer?

If these points are not clear the first time you skim over your resume then re-write it until they are.

3. Photographs, colour paper and unusual fonts

We have noticed an increasing tendency for job seekers to ‘jazz up’ their resumes by including photographs of themselves and using unusual fonts or fancy formatting. You might think this will help your resume to stand out, but it may give the impression of style over substance.

Make sure that the words speak for themselves. Keep to a font that looks clean and make sure the design of your resume isn’t cluttered. 

Your professionalism and enthusiasm can shine through a well-written, formatted and concise resume.

4. Long and elaborate sentences

“If you use excessively long words and elaborate sentences on your resume, you risk overshadowing your actual achievements,” said Fox.

Use bullet points - where appropriate - to help to add structure and clarity. They will also help give recruiting managers the information they want in an easily digestible format. Check what you’ve written and see if you can rewrite the information so it’s shorter and snappier.

5. Incorrect contact information

There are few things more frustrating for a recruiter than to have a great resume in front of them and not be able to contact the person whose name is at the top of it.

Make sure your email, phone number and address details are correct.

6. Attempting a ‘one size fits all’ resume

Employers who receive generic, ‘one size fits all’ resumes generally discard them. Most recruiting managers look for tailored resumes explaining exactly why – in terms of achievements and accomplishments in previous roles – the person is appropriate for the role.

As you’re writing your resume, have the job description to hand and look at what you’re writing with a critical eye. Every word should be designed to persuade someone recruiting for this particular role that they should interview you.

Preparing for your next interview? Take a look at the top 4 things your should not be doing.

Or, find out what you're worth using the Robert Walters Salary Survey. 

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