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5 Major Faux Pas of Resume Writing

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We’ve all been warned about common resume mistakes—typos and other mechanical problems, inconsistent verb tense and capitalization, inappropriate formats, and lying. Here are a few other resume-writing blunders to avoid when making that important first impression.

1. Don’t use a vague objective.

If you choose to include an objective on your resume—I would recommend stating it in the cover letter—be sure that it’s specific and relevant. Your objective should be targeted to the exact position and industry to which you’re applying. Many people waste five to seven lines with a generic wish list of what they’re looking for. Instead think of your objective as a branding statement. What would you say about yourself in your 60-second elevator pitch?

2. Distinguish between what you do versus what you’ve done.

Your resume shouldn’t read like a job description. Most HR professionals have a sense of what a financial analyst or a PR assistant does. This is about showing versus telling. Your goal is to demonstrate measurable successes to the greatest extent possible. Even if you aren’t in a quant-heavy position or industry, you can still quantify your experience. Maybe you reduced your marketing budget by 10 percent from the previous year while helping generate revenue growth, or you coordinated and executed a series of events that reached a total of 100,000 potential customers. Think about ways to show the impact of your work.

3. Avoid too much industry jargon.

Your resume shouldn’t require an interpreter. Even if most HR executives have a sense of what your day-to-day role is, they may not be familiar with the nuances of your industry, particularly if it is highly specialized. To the extent possible, avoid jargon if you can more plainly explain a given concept. Also avoid using company-specific acronyms. Your firm may have a special internal name for the weekly sales report, but you’re better off just calling it what it is.

4. Include hidden transferable skills.

Don’t be afraid to use the job description for a role to which you’re applying to inspire phrasing. Recruiters and hiring managers will be looking for certain buzzwords or key phrases in your resume based on the description they wrote. Highlight your relevant experience by taking the time to tailor your resume accordingly.

5. Be careful of a lack of punch.

In today’s competitive job market, it’s critical to stand apart from your peers. Let’s face it: Resumes aren’t exactly the most interesting reading material. A successful resume is one that demonstrates your strength in written communication and differentiates you from other candidates. Make yours more attractive by varying verb use. A few of my underutilized favorites are maximize, facilitate, and collaborate. Still stuck? Use your thesaurus to expand your vocabulary.

Have another resume-writing mistake to avoid? Got the “in” on great tips to make your resume more competitive? Share with us in the comments!

Ask Levo Chief Leadership Officer Tiffany Dufu for some killer resume tips!

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#Communication #Job Hunt Resumes Career Advice
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Maggie Seaver
Maggie Seaver

Articles like this are super helpful when trying to navigate the dos and don'ts of resume crafting! Sometimes it seems like a foreign art form, but please keep tips like these coming our way!

Thanks for the tips, definitely taking them to my draft now!

I really love the idea of writing what you've done versus just putting job descriptions on resumes--that seems like it would really help you stand out amongst the others. I love these articles--they are so helpful!

Any advice on the best way to present an objective as stated in the first tip?

Elana Gross
Elana Gross

Love these! Here are 5 I'd add from looking though stacks and stacks of resumes at Levo:

1. When you are sending your resume always always always be sure to make it a PDF (otherwise it might look completely different [and unprofessional] when someone else opens it up).
2. Save your resume as first name, last name resume.
3. This should go without saying but use a professional email address when you are emailing with recruiters. might be fine for personal use... but not for representing yourself professionally. You can make a free email address with gmail or use your school email address!
4. Sometimes people think lengthy sentences and jargon make you sound fancy... really it can often just be confusing. Be succinct and clear. Have two friends look it over for you - one in your industry & one not in your industry. Have them tell you if it is clear what you do & think about incorporating any edits they recommend.
5. Having trouble distilling what you do? Sometimes it is easier to talk it out. Talk about it with a friend or mentor and have them help you break it down. Listening to someone else talk about what you do (or even listening to yourself talk about what you do) is super helpful!
6. If you are a leader in organizations on & off campus put it on your resume and explain what you learned - a lot of our current interns did a great job with this in their resumes.

All of these tips plus the ones given in the article are great! Especially #5 because oftentimes I find myself using fancy words to try to describe something I've done because it's hard to explain succinctly, but I will definitely try talking about going forward.

As a young woman just starting to enter the workforce, I absolutely love articles like this. I wish resume writing was taught in high school or college. If it weren't for websites like Levo, I would have no idea where to even begin.

This is a great article for someone who is applying for entry-level jobs. I love 5. Pack a Punch. It really is worth the extra time and effort to make your resume stand out from the rest.

Great tips, but also don't forget about the importance of your overall visual presentation. Readability/scannability is important, and that encompasses everything from the layout of your information (too many bullets?) to your visual elements, like font choices, sizes, color elements. You need to be able to stand out while also looking professional and up to date.


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Courteney Douglas
Courteney Douglas

Great post, Daria! As a resume writer, I think the best way to avoid using a vague objective is to leave it out all together. For those who do include it, rather than making it a generic wish list of what you are looking for, turn it in a compelling wish list of what the employer is looking for. For more resume tips, check out the ResumeSpice website:

Ann Sparks
Ann Sparks

I guess one of the biggest mistakes that people make is rendering their resume too vague and complicated. Some of the worst cases contain so much information that is badly organized that it is almost impossible to identify what are the main skills and achievement this person possesses.
One very useful tip is to try to read it as a recruiter or as any other person who is not familiar with your industry at all. It seems like this is an obvious action but many job seekers don't do that. You can also send your resume for a quick review by professional writers here:

This is the right blog for anybody who really wants to understand this topic. It’s actually a great and helpful piece of information. I am satisfied that you simply shared this helpful info about resume writing with us. Please stay us informed like this.
Thank you for sharing.

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