5 Resume Blunders That Could Cost You the Interview


May 27, 2024 | Resumes

Alex, a mid-20s professional, had quite a few years of work experience under his belt. His professional background was impressive (he had worked at some of the top companies in his industry and climbed the corporate ladder pretty quickly), his references were glowing, and he had a solid education from a reputable university.

However, his company was among the many hit hard by the economic downturn, and he found himself unexpectedly out of a job. He was confident that he would quickly land another – after all, his credentials spoke for themselves, right?

True – Alex’s resume should’ve been a shoo-in for any job he applied for. But a few weeks into the job search he wasn’t getting any interviews; not even a single call back. After a month of frustration, he finally reached out to a friend who worked in HR for some feedback.

The friend pointed out a single error that easily cost Alex the opportunity to even get through the door for an interview: The formatting was outdated. It’s understandable, given that he had been comfortable in his previous position for the past few years and hadn’t had to update his resume.

But it’s a hard lesson that many job seekers learn too late: sometimes, it’s the smallest resume mistakes that can have the biggest impact on your job search. With that said, let’s make sure that you’re not making any of the common resume errors that could bring your job search to a screeching halt.

Photo by Lala Azizli on Unsplash

1. Typos and grammatical errors

This is one of the top resume mistakes that are easy to fall prey to, especially if you’ve been staring at your resume for hours on end. All it takes is one “maketing” instead of “marketing” or “there” instead of “their” to throw off a potential employer.

It may seem like a harsh judgment, but that’s the reality of the job market – with so many applicants, employers are looking for any reason to weed people out, and a simple typo or grammatical error could easily do just that. So, it’s better to realize and pick up on those mistakes before they’re already in the hands of a potential employer.

Blunder Impact: Your attention to detail will be called into question and you’ll create a perception of being careless. In the recruiter’s mind, if you can’t take the time to properly edit your own resume, how meticulous will you be in performing your job duties?

The Solution: Proofread, proofread, proofread! And then have a trusted friend proofread it too. There are also plenty of tools available online to help catch those pesky typos and grammar mistakes (Grammarly, Google Docs’ Spelling & Grammar Check, Microsoft Word’s Spelling & Grammar Editor, and ProWritingAid, just to name a few). Use them!

2. Generic language

For many people, writing the professional experience section is a simple exercise of copying and pasting their old job descriptions into a few bullet points. Their bullet points read as a list of the job duties and responsibilities that anyone would have done in that particular role.

And that’s exactly the problem with that strategy – it’s a generic and impersonal approach that doesn’t say anything about your contributions to the companies you’ve worked for, or how you excelled in your role. Employers want to see what makes you stand out from the crowd, not just a regurgitation of your daily tasks.

Blunder Impact: You’ll blend in with dozens of other candidates because these generic bullet points fail to showcase your unique skills, impact, and accomplishments. They make you seem like just another replaceable employee, rather than a valuable and unique candidate.

The Solution: Focus on your achievements and results instead of listing generic job duties. Use strong action verbs to describe your contributions and quantify them with numbers whenever possible (e.g. “increased sales by 20% in one year” instead of “responsible for sales”). This will make your experience stand out and show employers what you have to offer.

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3. Irrelevant information

It can be very tempting to want to include every single job or experience you’ve ever had in your resume, even the ones that go way back (like extracurricular activities from high school). But unless they’re directly relevant to the job you’re applying for, this is just unnecessary clutter that takes up valuable space.

Always remember that recruiters have limited time to review each resume, so make every word count.

Blunder Impact: You’ll make it harder for recruiters to find the most important and relevant details about your qualifications because your resume is filled up with irrelevant information that’s wasting a lot of valuable space.

The Solution: Tailor your resume to each specific job you apply for. This means removing any irrelevant experiences or skills and emphasizing the ones that align with the requirements of the job. You could have an overall master resume with all your experiences, and then curate separate versions for different job applications. This will make your resume more targeted and effective in catching the attention of recruiters.

4. Outdated formatting

Remember Alex’s story? This is where he made a big mistake – using an outdated resume format.

Over the years, resume formats have evolved, and you need to keep up with the latest trends to stand out.

Resume aspects that were once accepted as standard might now be considered outdated and could potentially harm your chances of getting hired. This ranges from using outdated fonts and layouts to including photos, too much personal information, or even an objective statement.

As such, if you haven’t updated your resume in a while, it’s time to give it a makeover, but in the right way.

Blunder Impact: You’ll come off as someone who’s out of touch with current industry standards and trends because you’re using an outdated resume. This may also give the impression that you’re not up-to-date with your skills and knowledge, which appears unprofessional. On top of that, your resume may not be compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) used by many companies to scan resumes for relevant keywords, making it harder for your resume to even reach human eyes.

The Solution: Research current resume trends and make sure your format is clean, modern, and professional (for example: use white space effectively, use bullet points and headings, avoid long paragraphs, and more). Avoid flashy designs or overwhelming fonts. Keep it simple, easy to read, and most importantly, ATS-friendly.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

5. Lack of (relevant) keywords

Last but not least, the final resume mistake you should avoid is not using keywords effectively. Keywords are specific words or phrases that relate to job requirements and industry jargon. Nowadays, these have become more important than ever because of the widespread use of ATS mentioned earlier.

In a nutshell, ATS scans resumes for relevant keywords and phrases to determine if you’re a good fit for the job. If you’ve done the job before or have the necessary skills, but your resume lacks those keywords that ATS is looking for, your resume may be automatically rejected. However, if you use enough relevant keywords, your resume can make it through the initial screening and into the hands of a human recruiter.

Blunder Impact: Your entire resume may get overlooked by ATS that companies use to filter resumes since they can’t identify relevant skills or experience since you’re not using keywords effectively. This can be a huge setback, as your resume won’t even reach human eyes regardless of how qualified you are for the position.

The Solution: Study the job descriptions of the positions you’re applying for and identify the keywords used. Make sure to strategically incorporate the relevant keywords into your resume, especially in your skills and work experience sections. However, make sure not to overdo it or use irrelevant keywords just to get past ATS as this can come across as insincere or dishonest. It’s called “keyword stuffing” and can hurt your chances of getting hired.


So, now that you know these 5 common resume errors, how many of them have you made in your own resume? Don’t worry if you’ve made one or more of these mistakes – now you know how to fix them and can get back on track to creating a strong and effective resume that gets noticed.

While seemingly small, these resume blunders can have a big impact on your job search and ultimately, your career. Your resume is the first impression you make on potential employers, so it’s important to take the time to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Go ahead and implement these solutions in your resume. After that, if you need a set of experienced eyes to review your resume, let one of our senior writers at Let’s Eat, Grandma, give you a free resume critique. With feedback on content, wording, design, and ATS,  you can be sure that your resume will stand out for all the right reasons.

Ready for more job search help?

Sign up for a free Senior Writer Resume Critique to see what’s holding you back from landing interviews. One of our top professional resume writers will give you personalized feedback on the top 3 items you can improve based on our expert practices!


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