Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » 5 Common Resume Mistakes Holding You Back – And 5 Quick Fixes

Last week, in a fit of pure joy and excitement over it being Friday, I decided to be extra generous and offer the first 10 Twitter followers and first 10 Facebook fans to respond a free resume review.  The response was overwhelming, and within a few short minutes I had 20 respondents.  After reviewing the resumes, what I took away from the experience is that too many job seekers are making the exact same resume mistakes over and over again.  So … in order to overcome these wildly popular, job-search-damaging mistakes, I’m going to share with you the 5 most common resume mistakes I saw last week in the hope that you’ll take a look at your own resume.  And if you see any of these mistakes, fix them now … before they do any further damage to your job search.

Using Objective Statements

Half of the resumes I reviewed contained generic and vague objective statements.

“to obtain a position that will utilize my education and years of experience to grow and advance …”

Or something to that effect.  Studies show recruiters and employers spend 10 seconds or less in their initial review of your resume.  A statement like the one above is not making use of the recruiter’s time; it is not telling them anything unique about you, why they should hire you, or why you’re different from everyone else that has the same statement on their resume.

Quick Fix: Delete the objective statement, people!  It’s a waste of valuable space on your resume that could be put to better use communicating the value you offer the employer—and as a candidate, what sets you apart in a sea of job seekers who all look and sound alike.

No Introduction or Professional Profile

Then there were those who didn’t include an objective statement—but didn’t include anything at all!  I was shocked to see half the resumes I reviewed contained no introduction, summary, profile, branding statement … nothing!  The resume jumped right into their degree or work experience.  What is so damaging to your job search about this?  You give the hiring manager no clue as to the type of position you want to obtain, what you’re qualified to do,  and no summary of your experience.  This means they’ll have to guess which position you’re applying for as well as the type of experience you have … and they’ll have to go looking for it.  So that initial 10 seconds they invest probably won’t be invested at all because they’re going to have to go searching for all the information they need.

Quick Fix: Market yourself!  Use a job target/title at the top of the resume, include a branding statement, and create a 3- to 5-line career summary about yourself that includes major keywords and prominent successes.

All Bullets … All the Time

I can assure you no one wants to read 20 bullets in a row.  You will lose your audience after the 5th one.  You know that expression, “everything in moderation”?  That includes your resume too, folks. It should not be two pages of just bullets. Every resume I reviewed, save one, had an overabundance of bullet points that went on for pages.

Quick Fix: Mix it up!  Use paragraphs to summarize your experience—and bullets to tout your accomplishments.

Accomplishments Few and Far Between

Every resume, save one (I’m not making this up, people; when I say every resume but one, I mean it.), had bullet points that told me about duties and responsibilities.  Only one person used any metrics within their resume to describe their accomplishments, successes, contributions, and results.

But Jessica, what if I don’t have any numbers or accomplishments from my past jobs?  I’m so glad you asked.  Come, let’s reason together!  If you had contributed absolutely NOTHING to your past positions you would have been fired.  Surely you contributed something.  Does there have to be a number attached to it?  Not necessarily.  Did you face any challenges or situations during your tenure that required you to take action?  Of course you did; you’re human … we’re problem solvers by nature.

Quick Fix: Think about a challenge or situation you faced while employed.  What action did you take to address it?  What was the outcome?  Tell me about that!  That’s your story, that’s the value you offer employers, those are your results/accomplishments/successes/contributions.  By the way, this is also great practice for behavioral interviewing.  When the interviewer says, “Tell me about a time when …” you’ll know you’re in a behavioral interview—and you’ll already have your answer ready.  You’re welcome in advance.  =)

Passive Words and Phrases

This is one of my resume pet peeves.  Passive terminology tells the employer very little about your contributions.  Here are some examples of passive resume terms:

Adept at, Familiar with, Knowledgeable in, Duties included, Responsible for, Skilled in, and Worked with.

All examples of ways to not really tell the employer anything of value.  Instead, use some action-driven words and phrases.

Quick fix: Here are several examples of action-driven words you can use on your resume right now:





























So here’s my take-away for you … pull out your resume and find out which one (or more) of these common mistakes you’re making on your resume and implement the quick fix associated with it.  If you’re making all five, just focus on fixing one at a time until all five are corrected.  Spread it out over a few days if necessary so you won’t feel overwhelmed or like you’re tackling rewriting your entire resume in one shot.  Focusing on one issue and repairing it will make the task of fixing your resume much less daunting.  If you would prefer to enlist an expert to assist with rewriting your resume and repairing these mistakes, e-mail me for more information.



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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. Joanne Vitek Morris on August 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Great, great advice! Kudos to you for offering your services as well! 🙂

  2. Dee Relyea on November 4, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Great post! I teach a min-course at UW-Madison called “Rock Your Resume”. I am glad to know I am still on target with my resume tips. As a former recruiter, I too saw these same typical mistakes on resumes repeatedly. In particular is the lack of accomplishment statements.

    I tell my clients: “Don’t just tell me what you did tell me how well you did it”. Here is a list of action verbs from that are a good resource:

    I look forward to your posts.
    Dee Relyea

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