Five Mistakes You’re Making On Your Resume

We’ve all made mistakes when crafting a resume–but now’s a great time to correct them. Below are 5 common mistakes that many people make when writing a resume, especially for the first time, and tips to avoid making them.

1. Avoid “-ing” endings

Read the following sentence:

I planning three major events per year to connect club members with alumni and employers in the legal field to allow students to explore careers in law.

It doesn’t make a ton of sense, does it? The action verb—the first verb in your description—needs to be written in either the first-person present or past tense. One strategy: when writing a bullet point, pretend that there is a hidden “I” at the start of the bullet. If the bullet point doesn’t read like a sentence with that “I,” be sure to adjust the verb tense so that it does. For example:

(I) Write short public interest articles that are featured in a weekly newsletter emailed to listserv of over 250 members


(I) Coordinated with the office communication team to design and deliver a social media campaign on Instagram, which increased our followers by 50%

See? Much better! And speaking of actions verbs…

2. It’s all “work.”

Read this description:

Worked on summer camp counseling team for children aged 10-12 

This is a common mistake: using “work” or “worked” as an action verb. But it doesn’t really communicate the skill you exercised. Whether it’s a job, internship, volunteer, club, or academic experience, it’s all “work” on your resume. That one little word, “worked,” is loaded with information–break it down into its component parts. 

So instead of “worked,” you…

  • Led a group of children aged 10-12 on daily activities such as hiking, arts, and sports
  • Collaborated with counseling team to create engaging camp activities for various age groups
  • Generated end-of-summer reports on camper numbers, activities, and overall engagement for camp supervisors

In this example, now we have more of a sense of your leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. These were all skill areas that were part of your “work” and that employers are seeking when hiring. Use those action verbs!

3. Chronic indentation

Remember, your resume should be well-formatted and one page. But sometimes, in an effort to differentiate sections, you might be prone to indent–or rather, over-indent. Indenting too much can waste space on a document that should only be one page. For example:

Observe the sadness that ensues:

See that unused space? It is inefficient and saddening. 

Now let’s see another example:

So much happier! By left-justifying and still using bullet points, you’re still able to write full, efficient descriptions for your experiences. It’s also still quite easy to follow.

This will also provide more space for you to write fuller bullet point descriptions. Speaking of which…

4. Where are your results?

A strong, complete description consists of a Project, Action…and Result, also known as the trusted P-A-R method. Too often, the “result” is missing.

Consider the following:

Designed new graphics for company’s social media accounts

Here, we have a project (design social media graphics) and an action (design)–but what was the result or accomplishment? What was the point of your design? Why does it matter? Let’s see a new version:

Designed new graphics for company’s social media accounts, which grew user engagement by 50%

Here, we have a clear accomplishment, which was a result of your action.

Of course, not every action you perform will have a clear-cut result or accomplishment. But, each action that you communicate on your resume has a purpose, and the purpose in itself is a “result” that needs to be included in your resume descriptions. 

5. Not getting your resume reviewed by the Career Center

The ability to fix these mistakes is at your fingertips. Consult the Career Center’s resume resources, including helpful information for industry-specific resumes. Revise your resume and then get it reviewed in a virtual drop-in.

We look forward to working with you!

Salvatore Cipriano
—By Salvatore Cipriano, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Career Education

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