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What’s Ruining Your Resume?

by Linda Matias

Resume mistakesWhen you commit to finding a new job, your resume becomes an obsession. That’s understandable since so much of your career success is riding on the resume language and layout you choose. Sometimes that pressure can be paralyzing and leave you unsure of how to revise a new draft or an outdated version of your resume. Below are three common issues jobseekers do that ruin their resumes, and in turn, minimize their chances for getting interviews.

Empty phrases / words

Human resource managers roll their eyes at words they see over and over again in a resume (e.g., team player, detailed oriented, reliable). But the issue isn’t those specific words. It’s in the way the jobseeker uses them.

For illustration purposes, let’s use the phrase team player has an example. Most jobseekers use the phrase in an uncreative way such as, “Strong team player.” That sentence leaves a lot to be desired and the phrase reads empty.

That said, when attached to an accomplishment the phrase team player is impactful. Such as in this sentence: Valued team player who partners with internal departments, including sales and marketing to capture multimillion-dollar contract agreements.

This sentence has substance, something the human resource manager can bite into and get a sense of the successes you have secured throughout your career. In turn, she will be more apt to call you in for an interview than if you simply wrote, “Strong team player.”

Inappropriate adjectives

Use care in choosing words that reflect your professionalism and background. Sprinkling in words that don’t define who you are will make your resume suspect. As an example, many jobseekers use the word “loyal” in their resume, but a quick read of the resume reveals they held three jobs in the last five years.

This is a red flag for the human resource manager, not simply because of the job hopper image, but also because the jobseeker doesn’t take enough care to write a resume that speaks to who they are. Instead, they choose to put together a resume with language they think the human resource manager wants to hear.

The lesson here is to highlight who you are, and never focus on who you think you should be. Human resource managers will respond more readily to a resume that sounds true than one that has the language thrown in just for the sake of it.

Too Many Accomplishments

For some jobseekers, letting go of accomplishments is difficult to do. After all, they worked hard on building an impressive stack of achievements and they want to highlight them all so a human resource manager is exposed to their full breadth of experience.

That’s a fair view point, and it’s understandable. That said, the plan backfires when there are an overwhelming amount of accomplishments that the ones that matter most are buried.

At that point, the jobseeker is defeating the purpose of the resume because a resume isn’t a contest of which jobseeker accomplished more in their career. It is, however, a contest of who has the most accomplishments that align with the responsibilities in the job posting. Keep that lesson in mind.

About the Author

Linda Matias is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer who heads You can reach her at to request a resume quote. You can also visit her website at to review sample resumes and cover letters.

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