10 Disastrous Resume Mistakes (and how to avoid them!)

GTRI 10 Disastrous Resume Mistakes

Everyone knows to include their name, contact information, and work experience on a resume. But what is going to make your resume stand out? What should you avoid to give you the best chance of being chosen for your dream position?

  1. Typos and grammatical errors. This is important for every job candidate to avoid, but for international students, it’s a good idea to add an extra step and have a native English speaker with good grammar skills review your resume for grammar and usage. It’s important for employers to be confident in your command of the English language.
  2. Using passive language. U.S. employers value self-motivation and action. The more your language reflects action, the better. This list of action verbs from The Muse will help make your resume stand out.
  3. Including illegal information. In the U.S. it is illegal for employers to ask certain questions. If this information is included on your resume, you will automatically be disqualified from applying. Illegal information includes:
    1. TOEFL Score
    2. A Photograph Backdrop
    3. Immigration Status
    4. Age/Birth date
    5. Hometown/Home Country
    6. Marital Status
    7. Race/Ethnicity
    8. Religion
  4. Focusing on group accomplishments.  Group accomplishments are a great thing to include on your resume because they demonstrate your ability to work on a team. However, you should focus this description on your role within the team.
  5. Listing tasks instead of problems solved. “Responsible for updating social media accounts,” becomes “Increased social media engagement scores by 13% by implementing new strategy.”
  6. A Hard to read format. Hiring managers generally have a lot of applicants for one position and want to be able to scan your resume quickly at first. Instead of writing in paragraph format, use bullet points whenever possible. In addition, an easy-to-read open sans font is a must.
  7. A lack of imagination or creativity. Hiring managers get tired of reading “resume-speak.” They also get tired of looking at resumes generated from templates. The level of creativity should match the type of position you are seeking. A graphic artist, for example, may have some graphic elements included in their resume, while an engineer would be expected to have a more traditional resume.
  8. A lack of focus. If you’re applying for an IT Specialist position, the time you spent as an intern in the IT Department at the University, or serving as the technical consultant for your favorite student group is relevant. Working in the dish room of the cafeteria is not. Make sure you highlight the experience that is relevant.
  9. Not including keywords. Especially if you submit an application online, hiring managers will likely use software that searches by keyword to sift through the first round of resumes. If you do not have those keywords in your resume, it will not make the first cut. A good practice is to identify the likely keywords being searched by reading the job description carefully, and then making sure those keywords are in your resume.
  10. Not offering references. If this is your first job, list professors in your major area of study, academic advisers, research partners, or anyone else that can speak to your work ethic and knowledge of your area of study. If you have job experience, a supervisor or a co-worker in a position of authority is the best reference.

Download our handy Resume and Interview Guide for more tips!