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Resume Pet Peeves and Common Mistakes

What are some sure-fire ways to make a staffing professional less likely to look kindly on your resume? The following information reflects feedback from companies that responded to a survey sent to employers listed in the book The 100 Best Companies to Work For (Plume, 1994).



  • Leaving out dates

  • No chronological listing of work

  • Overstatement of responsibility

  • Too much detail, usually around job descriptions

  • Summary of work history by type instead of listing the exact company and job performed

  • Baseless description of personal strengths

  • Entitlement mentality ("I have my degree; I'm sharp; what can you do for me")


  • No accomplishments listed, only job duties

  • Statements of accomplishments without a clear indication of where or when they were made

  • Pumped up to look as if the candidate has qualifications that he or she does not possess

  • Accomplishments separated from work history so that it's not clear what was done where


  • Fancy fonts

  • Photo included

  • Graphics

Grammar, Technical

  • Typos

  • Misspellings

  • Fluff wording

  • Poor grammar

  • Incomplete sentences


  • Disorganized

  • Too long

  • Two pages from beginners

  • Poor organization

  • Lack of clear direction, focus

  • Covering up or lying about gaps in employment or lack of degree
Excerpted from "Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer" (JIST Publishing, 2007) by Susan Britton Whitcomb. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company