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The 8 biggest mistakes on resumes, and how to correct them

Avoid these mistakes if you want to create an impressive resume.
By Adam Toren |


When you’re an entrepreneur, you do a lot of searching for the right candidates to join your team. Hiring takes up a tremendous amount of time, so one of the best things you can do if you’re looking to get hired, or you’re looking to hire someone, is to pay attention to the common mistakes on résumés.



As a job seeker, keeping these mistakes off your résumé will help you get through the stacks of applicants to potentially get hired at a great startup. As a hiring entrepreneur, identifying these key mistakes early on in the résumé process will save you time as you sort through applicants.


Here are the eight biggest mistakes I see on résumés and how you can correct them.


1. Saying too much

Having a lot of experience is a great thing. However, put yourself in the mindset of the person hiring and take a good overview of your résumé’s length. I typically like to see nothing longer than a page, maybe a page and a half, but really you should try to pare it down to a page.


Related: To improve your chances of getting an interview, focus on this strategy

It’s always best to think of your résumé as a job eliminator, not a job getter. I want to see if you have core competencies that match my team needs, then I’ll dig deeper with a LinkedIn search, phone interview, or email after you’ve made the first cut.



Saying more of the right thing in less space will get you further with your résumé.



2. Saying too little

Obviously, the flip side of too much is not saying enough. You should have a complete, robust page offering that gives the best details and the most statistically significant information about your past. Include metrics. I’m always amazed when résumés are filled with flowery language about “tasked with” this job and “responsible for” that initiative, but then there’s no data to back it up.



How many files did you reorganize into a complete new system? How many sales did you increase from quarter to quarter? Put metrics in the mix and also include any leadership or management positions.


3. Skip objectives

There’s an old school of thought that objectives should be listed at the top. I’m not in that camp. I don’t think the objectives section of your résumé is relevant or important at this stage. When you’re in my office and we’re interviewing together, I like to talk to you face to face about your objectives. All this does on your résumé is take up space on your one-page, metrics-driven résumé. Skip it and save the space.


4. Grammar

Understanding grammar, verb-noun subject agreement, propositions, and plurals are all basics of the English language that your spell check isn’t going to find each time. Have a second set of eyes read your résumé and check for grammar.



One trick I always use is to read anything I write out loud. Read out your contractions to make sure they make grammatical sense in your sentence. That extra step of care shows me that you are considerate and deliberate in the quality of your work. Trust me, many aren’t, and your résumé will do better.


Related: What font should you use on your résumé?




5. Spelling

Spelling, like grammar, matters. Spell check and auto correct aren’t going to get it right 100% of the time, so make sure you read it out loud and have a second set of eyes on your résumé for spelling as well. It will make a difference.


6. Gaps

Aside from metrics on a one-page résumé, the other big thing I’m looking at are the timelines. If you have big gaps in your employment timeline, that’s not an automatically bad thing, but you should offer some kind of explanation. Gaps of more than about six months should either have an explanation in your cover email/cover letter or should include an entry on your résumé timeline, like explaining that you took time off to travel the world, or started a business that failed.


Whatever it is, those are important and relevant details that can fill in a complete view of your history. When I see big gaps in a résumé’s timeline with no explanation, it makes me wonder what was going on and why you wouldn’t mention it. It’s a distraction in a résumé.



7. Inconsistencies, embellishments, and lies 

Don’t lie on your résumé. It’s that easy. Actually, don’t lie in life at all. Trust me on this. It’s obvious when your years of experience don’t add up, when your timeline is all over the place, when you have massive unexplained jumps in responsibility or hop from job to job.


Inconsistencies and dramatic embellishments are white lies and I’ve seen it all from white lies to full-blown fiction on résumés--don’t do any of it.


8. Relevancy

My final word of advice on résumés is to make sure yours is relevant to the position you’re applying to, or else don’t bother.


If your skills really don’t match up to what the job requires, even if you are really smart, talented, and have great experience at what you do, it’s just not a good fit. Save both sides of the table the time and don’t apply. 



Related: 5 huge résumé blunders--and how to avoid them


Copyright 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editor.


Photos from Pixabay (Startup and Firmbee) and Flickr (Flazingo)

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