6 Resume Mistakes That Will Get Yours Tossed

By WinterWyman - Career and Recruiting Advice

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by Frank Dadah, Managing Director, Accounting, Finance & Administrative Contract Staffing at WinterWyman

Your resume generally gets about 30 seconds of attention the first time it’s reviewed. You need to take full advantage of that half minute to ensure you move on in the hiring process. As a recruiter, I review resumes every day. In my experience, here are six serious mistakes that will get yours quickly tossed into the reject pile.

Too Lengthy

Keep in mind someone in HR is likely facing a mountain of resumes during the screening process, and they are looking for reasons to whittle down the pile. Don’t make it easy to get discarded by submitting an imposing, multipage document. I recommend keeping your resume to one page for every seven to 10 years of employment and never exceeding two pages. Focus on the work experience that’s relevant to the role for which you are applying. And, yes, that means you need to have more than one version of your resume to apply for different roles.

Confusing Formatting

Again, keep your beleaguered reviewer in mind. It’s important to stand out from other applicants, but using a unique format that’s difficult to follow, or inconsistent with what employers are accustomed to, just creates problems. There are a number of resources available online for proper resume formatting. I like to see resumes that are clean and neat with dates, company names and job titles clearly noted with responsibilities and accomplishments shown underneath.


When skimming a resume, typos nearly jump off the page. Spell check is just a click away, so take advantage of it. If you see a red or green underline anywhere on your resume STOP and review it. It usually means there is something wrong. Spell check isn’t always correct, but I’ve found it’s right more often than most people. Check for other grammar and tense mistakes as well. Ideally, have your resume proof read by a reliable friend or family member, and do so every time you make a change. It’s an extra step but well worth the time.


I often find two places inconsistency can strike. The first is usually a typo where one job starts before the other one ends. Double check all of your dates and correct any overlap. The second – and more serious – issue is when the resume doesn’t match what’s posted on LinkedIn or other social media sites. Regularly review your resume against your other profiles to ensure consistency.

Personal Information

Too many times when I open a resume, I’m shocked that personal information – birth date, Social Security number or a photo – is right on top. None of that is relevant to a potential employer, and it could make you seem out of touch. Not to mention it’s unsafe to share this information as it could make you an easy target for identity theft.

Being Untruthful

The last – and most fatal – pitfall is stating something untrue. I’m always surprised when candidates lie on their resumes. The ease of reference and background checking through social media and other online resources makes getting away with exaggerated or false information nearly impossible. Giving yourself a more impressive title than you’ve earned, exaggerating your responsibilities, claiming a degree you don’t have or falsely stating employment with a company will all likely be uncovered by a potential employer. And, once you’re caught in a lie, you’ve ruined any chance of being hired.

Remember, a resume is the first point of contact most job seekers have with hiring managers. Put the time and effort into making it perfect so it won’t be the last.


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