Common Resume Mistakes To Avoid

leafs of paper emerging from an envelope

Whether you're using your resume to apply for scholarships, get a summer job, or submit your college applications, your resume should put a spotlight on your best efforts, not resume missteps. Because you won’t be there while reviewers look through all the applications, your resume needs to do all the speaking for you. Prioritize your resume and pay close attention to detail because the reviewers will! Making mistakes could be the difference between you or the next applicant getting the good news. So, what are the most common resume mistakes you should avoid? Let’s review! 

Grammatical Errors and Typos 

Don’t let bad grammar or typos be the reason you don’t get selected! Always have a qualified individual review your resume to avoid any obvious errors. Consider asking a parent, visiting the career center at your high school, or sending it to a mentor for review.  

If you are looking for another set of eyes, consider using an online tool by Get Schooled. They provide a free resume review and will provide actionable feedback within one week. This non-profit organization is dedicated to helping you get to college, find your first job, and succeed in both! 

Pro tip: Read your resume out loud to see if you can catch anything on your own. 

Including Irrelevant Information  

You might feel like you don't have enough experience to flesh-out your resume, but don't fall into the trap of including irrelevant information! Resumes are meant to help easily highlight what makes you the right person; including irrelevant information distracts from what matters. Ask yourself, “Does this information help showcase a skill, dedication, or experience relevant to this position? Was the award, certificate, or experience gained in the last few years?” If the answer is no, it may not be right to include. Avoid listing out hobbies (unless relevant to the position), vague skills, or including a photo unless you’re specifically asked to include it. If you’re in high school your resume will likely be one page, and that’s okay! 

Focus on what's important — include educational background, part-time work experience, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, awards, leadership roles, notable achievements, or other skills in your resume to highlight why you’re the right fit. Provide succinct overviews, dates, and any information that you want the reviewer to know about you with just a glance. 

Cliches and Generic Phrases  

Some buzzwords are overused and lose their impact. Words such as “team player,” “go-getter,” “detail oriented,” “results driven,” etc. Instead of using these general terms, go into detail and include descriptions that reflect your specific skills. 

Refer to the job posting, scholarship listing, or application to tailor your resume. Include specific details and keywords that demonstrate that you understand what they are looking for and have experience if applicable. 

Exaggerating Your Qualifications or Achievements 

Under no circumstances should you exaggerate your qualifications or achievements. There can be very serious consequences for not being truthful on your resumeBe upfront about what you’ve accomplished and give credit where due. For example, if you participate in a high school club, and that club hosts a fundraiser event that raised $5,000 to donate but the only thing you helped with was the set up for the event, make it clear that’s how you were involved. This might read: "I was a member of the Do Something Club in 2024, which raised $5,000 to donate to local charities. I helped set up the venue for the fundraising event and attended the committee meetings weekly."

Linking to Unprofessional Resources 

It’s common practice to include links to your social media channels or online portfolios if you wish to provide more context. Spend some time auditing your social channels and portfolio so you are giving the reviewer a great first impression.  

What might be considered unprofessional?

  • Social channels that contain language or photos to don’t align with their institutional values. This would include rude comments, memes, bullying, explicit photos, etc.
  • Linking to unfinished pages or projects unless you’re showcasing just the portion you worked on in an overall project. However, rushing and forgetting to finish a sentence or not putting a photo where you said there would be one is a problem!
  • A link that is broken or gated so you can’t access the information.

Review all the pages you are linking to or ones that can be found with a quick Google search of your name to avoid any concerns. 

Want help writing a resume or cover letter? We’ll cover the basics including layout, information to include, and other tips. Get ready to stand out from the crowd! 

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