Mistakes that tank a resume

Whether you are looking for your first internship or a senior position, your resume is often the key to that super-critical first impression. Are you making mistakes that could tank your resume? Do you know the key questions to ask if you want to fix them?

mistake 1:

You underestimate how much a resume matters

Resumes matter. More than ever. A good resume checks all of the boxes: name, address, job history. Boring. Now, more than ever, you need the kind of resume that makes you stand out – the kind that can increase your call-backs and set you up for a successful interview.

Spell check is not enough, y’all, because I’ve seen your resumes and there are lots of little mistakes with easy fixes.

» Read the position announcement again.

» Research the company.

» Review your experience and qualifications.

Get someone (not family) to read your resume for errors and for opportunities.

key question: how many ways can I improve my resume?

mistake 2:

your resume is focused on you

You need a job, right, or else you wouldn’t be working on your resume. You have a well-crafted objective and a professional photo. You have great experience and amazing accomplishments… Why isn’t your resume getting you results?

Photo by Wes Lewis

Did you ever stop to ask yourself who your resume is for? If the answer is “It’s for me to get a job,” then you need to think that one through a sec. Your resume is for your prospective employer.

While you’ve been busy worrying about what you need you’re forgetting that your audience has their own needs and underlying interests, and that your resume has to speak to them, not you.

key question: who is my audience?

mistake 3:

you aren't offering a solution to a problem

While you’re waiting for people to respond to this you-focused resume you’re probably also wondering why no one has noticed what a special, talented, amazing human being you are. Well, sugar, I gotta tell you – it’s not their job to notice your specialness or your potential; it’s your job to show them how you can help them solve the problem.

Leadership is self-made. People who have deliberately decided to become problem solvers lead better.

See, people don’t just create a paying job for no reason; every open position exists because the company has a problem or sees an opportunity.

key question: how can I provide a solution?

mistake 4:

you send the same resume to everyone

If you are sending the same resume to Company A that you sent to Company B then you are doing it wrong. You heard me. Doing it wrong. This mistake is the culmination of mistakes 1-3. If you’ve read the position announcement and researched the company, considered your audience, and offered a solution to their needs then why would Company A and B get the same resume? Every resume you send is an opportunity to show not tell how you are a perfect fit.

a key fitting perfectly into a lock
key question: why am I absolutely the best person for this job?


mistake 5:

you think selling yourself is selling out

Do you feel awkward talking about yourself or your accomplishments? Many of us do. If you feel slimy trying to sell yourself – if you feel like self-promotion means selling out – then you are going to have to get used to being uncomfortable because guess what? Your resume is a sales pitch that is part of a broader marketing campaign to sell yourself to your prospective employer. If that feels yucky then you’ve probably had at least one bad experience with sales, and I’m sorry for you but you are not alone in that.

Instead of focusing on the trauma of the past, try embracing empathy for your future employer by getting in their shoes. If you’ve already researched the company, talk to others in that industry sector, read relevant magazines, trade publications, and websites. Analyze similar job postings. Know as much as you can about the job before you walk into that interview.

key question: how can I use the interview to authentically connect with people, understand their needs, and have a conversation about what I can do to help?

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