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6 Not-So-Obvious Resume Mistakes to Avoid

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1. Avoid abbreviations

Unless you want to add “laziness” to your summary of skills, I advise that you avoid all forms of abbreviations.

"Etc., Asst., Assoc." are just a few I have come across. The idea of using abbreviations for the sake of avoiding very long sentences or titles is understandable – however, you are conveying laziness and a lack of professionalism through your writing. Save abbreviations for your own personal note-taking.

2. Avoid using generic resume lines with no purpose

So, there are two common resume lines, which I’m sure many of you have seen or even used:

“Objective” and “References Provided Upon Request”

Now, although both seem like they are necessary, they actually are not. It’s one thing to include something in your resume with a very direct and meaningful purpose, and then it’s another to include something, because everyone else is doing it.


If you are certain that you would like to include an objective, make sure that the objective is related to what you are applying for. Here is an example of a good versus bad objective:

Objective: To continue to provide services to improve the under-served communities of New York City, specifically those living with and are affected by [X,Y & X]

Objective: To obtain an entry level position and use my skills to grow in a company.

“References Provided Upon Request”

As fancy as this may sound, it’s just as equivalent as stating “Willing to interview upon request” – it’s pretty much just stating the obvious. Employers are not going to look at this statement and think “References?! We’ve got a winner here, folks!” In fact, reference checks will be conducted no matter what. However, your approach to providing references can be different. Rather than waiting for them to eventually ask, perhaps you can provide a separate page including your top professional references when called to come in for an interview.

3. Be consistent with everything…literally

If you are going to bold the names of all of your employers, make sure to bold all of them. If you are going to italicize your position title, italicize all of them. If you are going to align your dates of employment 8 spaces after your employer name, then make sure to align all of your dates 8 spaces after your employer name. You get my drift.

4. Avoid “too much” or “too little” information

As I had previously stated in my post “Overcoming the Struggle of Interviewing”,make sure to tailor your resume to the position you are applying for. If you are submitting your resume to an Informatics Specialist position, including your previous experience as a Sales Associate will not be very significant. You want to keep your resume very direct and straight to the point – you don’t want the person reviewing your resume to feel like they’re reading chapter one of your autobiography. However, you must also not forget important information, either. If you have any volunteer or membership experience relevant to your position of interest, make sure not to forget it – regardless of how long your experience was. Keeping your resume to 1-2 pages is your safest option.

5. Avoid using “periods” if you are not using complete sentences

Here is an example below:

  • Every quarter, I provide the Vice President of Human Resources an Excel Spreadsheet specifying the number of hires within each department.[period]
  • Provide quarterly recruitment reports to the Vice President of Human Resources [no period]

Notice the difference between the two lines? Remember, periods are meant to be used at the end of complete sentences.

6. Pay attention to your grammar tense

I've come across many resumes where candidates forgot to use the correct tense in the descriptions of their previous positions. Remember, if you are no longer working for the employer, use past tense.

Here is an example below of a description for a current responsibility versus a past responsibility:

  • Current: Managing the dental office budget and approving supply requisitions
  • Past: Managed the dental office budget and approved supply requisitions

When in doubt, use past tense in all of your descriptions - as long as you make sure to remain consistent throughout your resume.

Don't forget to have someone review your resume in case he or she catches on to something you may not have. It’s quite surprising how easy it is to forget even the simplest of things…


Photo: Ed Gregory / Stokpic



Resumes #Skills #Mistakes
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One obvious mistake to avoid: typos. "[N]o acceptions" should be "no exceptions" above.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention! Unfortunately, this was an error made beyond my control, and I have addressed it with the editors.


Don’t forget to have someone review your resume to something you may not have - ? - or review your article?

Courteney Douglas
Courteney Douglas

Great advice, Amira. As a resume writer, I recommend eliminating the objective altogether; there are very few circumstances in which an objective is effective, and it can be a simple way for hiring managers to eliminate candidates whose objective statements don't perfectly match up to the job. For those seeking additional resume help and advice, visit the ResumeSpice website:

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