6 Popular Resume Mistakes to Avoid

If you are anything like me, senior year of college consisted of too many people asking you what your plans were after graduation. Now a full year later, I've successfully managed to move across the country and transition from a low paying job at a nonprofit organization to my current position at a global law firm. How did I do this? Magic!

Just kidding! I worked my ass off. Not just after graduation, but throughout college as well. With every news outlet reporting how hard it is to get a job in today's economy, I wasted no time during my four years in college. The only problem I've had is figuring out how to put all these experiences on a piece of paper. With so many applicants hoping to hired for the same job, it's difficult to stick out in a sea of high GPAs and low salary requirements.

While I can't magically give you work experience or an amazing recommendation letter, I can take my experience with working at an organization that focused on unemployment to warn you about the all too common resume mistakes people make that leave their resume in the 'no' pile.

Let's not waste a single moment more and get to talking about all the things you want to avoid doing before submitting your next job application...

'References upon request.'

While it may be hard for us to understand, this is an HR manager's pet peeve. Typing at the bottom of your resume, 'references upon request,' is not only unnecessary, but sometimes redundant. Many applications today have you include references as part of the application, making the line completely unnecessary. For those applications that don't initially ask for references, the hiring manager already knows you will be willing to provide references. You want the job, don't you?

Different date formats.

Again, this is a small thing that bothers anyone who spends their day looking at resumes all day. If you include the month in one date range, make sure you include the month in all date ranges. For example, if I write I worked at Google from Sep 2012-Aug 2015, but my college dates are 2010-2014, the formatting is not the same. Fix it! It's so simple yet such an eye sore when done wrong.

Related Post: How to Make the Best Resume with 10 Easy Tips

Using the wrong tense.

This mistake would have to be in the top 5, with so many people not realizing what they're doing wrong until someone points it out. When describing your work experience, all jobs and positions you once held should be referred to in the past tense. Talking about everything in the present tense not only sounds like you are currently very busy juggling a lot of tasks, employers will automatically know you aren't and conclude you simply failed to revise your resume. For help with avoiding making this mistake, ask a friend to read over your resume.

Including old information.

My general rule for what to include on my resume is that it needs to be no longer than 2 years ago, then again, I just graduated college and have never put in too many years at one job. While everyone will have a different span of time, make sure the experiences you are including on your resume aren't from too long ago. Talking about a position you held 10 years ago isn't very helpful if you haven't done anything recently to expand on that experience.

Adding irrelevant information.

Just recently I was revising a resume for someone seeking positions in the field of security. In his aim to fill up the page and include as much as possible, he listed a job he held almost ten years ago in a surf shop. Again, he was looking for a professional job in the field of security! How he figured selling surfboards factored in his job search, I don't know. As objectively as you can, look over the experiences you include and ask yourself if they are actually relevant to the job you're applying to. If you cant apply any of your duties or skills to the new job, save the space and remove it from your resume.

Focusing too much on one experience.

Your resume should be an equal balance of all your past experiences, meaning all past positions should have relatively the same amount of bullet points and space given on the overall resume. If you take up one third of the space on the page talking about one job then cram four more positions in the remaining space, that should be a signal that not all of the positions are relevant and necessary. Aim to have the same number of bullet points per position or decrease the number of listed experiences so you can expand on those you wish to.

Are any of these common mistakes on your resume? What's your biggest struggle when trying to update your personal resume?? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. The tense thing is something I harp on my high school personal finance students about. It's one of the hardest things for them to grasp when we do our job interview unit. Also, it seems obvious, but I think spelling and grammar mistakes should be on this list. With text language so prevalent, I think a lot of younger people don't even notice they're doing it, but it's a big deal. I've read several times that HR managers will immediately weed out resumes that include spelling and grammar mistakes.

    1. Spelling and grammar will definitely be on part 2 because so many of my friends unfortunately get lazy and don't proofread! I know I would immediately toss a resume that made multiple spelling mistakes, typos happen, errors are preventable!

  2. Such great tips! I especially love how you talked about formatting because it's important when talking about consistency on your resume.

    1. People who don't work in HR see no problem with it but when you spend the day looking at resumes it definitely bugs you. Plus it helps with deciding what you need to narrow down!

  3. This is so helpful as I work on sending out summer internship applications!

    1. Good luck!!! I know how stressful it can be but I'm sure you'll be fine!!

  4. Good tips here...Interviewers definitely prefer to see or read a simple, precise and perfectly formatted resume than something creative that is tough to read.Thanks!