A resume is a document that contains details about your academic and professional achievements. It also gives personal information including your name, address, contacts, hobbies, and skills.
Bad Resume Examples & Ways To Fix Them
- 1. The spelling and grammar disaster
- 2. Fonts are not a joke
- 3. Vague accomplishments
- 4. The bad graphic designer
- 5. Irrelevant skills
- 6. The sequencing nightmare
- 7. The formatting joker
- 8. Resume vs cover letter
- 9. It is not an autobiography
- 10. The buzzword-enthusiast
- 11. Don’t mention weaknesses
- 12. Exaggerations can hurt
- 13. Lack of career progression
- 14. Bad references
- 15. The wrong kind of personal information
Resumes offer people a glimpse of what to expect from you. In fact, when applying for a new job, you will almost always have to produce a resume.
That is because it gives your potential employer a preview of the kind of candidate you are. It is with this in mind that you must always ensure your resume conforms to the highest standards of quality.
Having a look at some bad resume examples and ways to fix them can be key to crafting an exceptional document for yourself.
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Bad Resume Examples & Ways To Fix Them
Here are some of the most common mistakes individuals make when crafting their resumes and how you can correct them.
1. The spelling and grammar disaster
Whether you are writing your resume for the first time or just editing to add new details, you must always pay close attention to spelling.
If your resume contains a significant number of spelling mistakes, potential employers will view you as a careless candidate who does not pay attention to details. Documents with too many spelling mistakes are unpleasant to read through.
Keep in mind that spelling mistakes or typos occur even if you are the most skillful person when it comes to the use of computer keyboards. To avert this disaster, it is a good idea to proofread your work once or twice.
You can even go ahead and ask a friend or relative to proofread your work. This will bring to light any mistakes that you may have missed.
You must also form sentences that are short and grammatically correct. This will make it easy for anyone to read through your resume and understand each point clearly.
Take note that there are certain apps and programs designed to pick up spelling and grammatical errors. These apps can then offer suggestions on how to correct any spelling or grammatical mistakes you may have made.
By using such apps, you can quickly correct mistakes and have a resume that is pleasant to read through.
2. Fonts are not a joke
When crafting your resume, you need to be extremely careful when choosing fonts. If you go for options that do not appear professional, potential recruiters will immediately push it away.
Even if you have some of the most outstanding achievements with regard to academics and skills, the truth is that bad fonts will discourage employers from proceeding with your application.
Some examples of bad fonts include Comic Sans, Papyrus, Pacifico, Mistral, and Impact. These fonts may be extremely beautiful or attractive when used to showcase art and other entertainment-related information but can be annoying when used in a professional resume.
To ensure you make a positive impact, choose fonts that are considered professional. Some examples of the best fonts to use when creating a resume include Times New Roman, Cambria, Calibri, Helvetica, Georgia, and Arial.
3. Vague accomplishments
Your resume gives you a chance to let people know of some of your most outstanding achievements. That is why you need to be specific when giving details of each of your achievements.
However, a lot of people are vague when it comes to what they have achieved. For instance, saying that you were responsible for an increase in sales or profits may be true but it is not detailed enough.
Potential employers are interested in knowing how you actually managed to increase sales or profits. That is why you should point out some of the specific things you did to ensure increased sales.
An example of something you might have done to increase sales is coming up with a social media page where you posted information regarding the products or services your organization was offering.
Coming up with an app that streamlined communications within the organization can be another specific strategy you might have implemented to ensure higher sales and productivity.
The key is to point out things that led to an actual increase in sales and profitability rather than just saying the organization achieved greater profitability because of you.
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4. The bad graphic designer
Sometimes people try to make their resume stand out so much that they lose the point of crafting one. Including flashy graphics in your resume may make it stand out but for all the wrong reasons.
The goal of crafting a resume is to communicate certain things in a simple and straightforward manner. Including graphics, emojis, and other animations in your resume may only end up causing unnecessary distractions.
While some people find it cool to put their photos on their resumes, the practice is considered unprofessional in certain parts of the world. In fact, certain employers will shy away from resumes with photos because of fear of a lawsuit related to discrimination.
It is worth pointing out that some companies use applicant tracking systems or software to process resumes. Graphics may hinder such software programs from processing your resume and you’ll therefore be disqualified before getting to the critical stages.
The key is to avoid propping up your resume with photos, graphics, and emojis. Instead, keep it simple and to the point. That way, an employer can skim through your resume quickly and decide if you are fit to move to the next stage.
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5. Irrelevant skills
When applying for a particular job, the recruiter wants to know if you have the skills and experience to handle the tasks that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
For instance, if you are applying for a job as a laboratory technician, your skills and experiences should match. However, a number of people simply put down skills and experiences to stand out.
As a lab technician, you’ll have nothing to do with playing basketball or operating an ambulance. Instead, the skills and experiences you list should be relevant to the tasks that are done within the laboratory setting.
Good time management, exceptional communication, adherence to safety standards, and teamwork are some of the skills you might want to claim. Such are the things that are necessary to keep the laboratory operational.
6. The sequencing nightmare
Coming up with an orderly sequence for your resume is another way to ensure you grab the attention of a potential employer. With the right sequence of events, your employer can easily skim through the document and find every detail they need.
However, many people simply overlook the importance of such details in their resumes. The first thing you need to do is ensure that you have your personal details at the top of the resume.
Some of these details should include your name, contact details, and address. These details let the employer know who they are dealing with.
You should then proceed to write about your academic journey and then move to work experience. Some people prefer detailing their work experience from the most recent period and then moving backward in time.
As long as your journey is captured properly, it does not matter whether you start by stating your academic journey or work experience.
Mark your journey by quoting the years you achieved milestones. For example, capture your year of graduation from university. You can also state the year you started work and the year you stopped working at a specific organization.
Do not mix up years when sequencing your resume. Either move from the most recent year backward or the earliest to the most recent.
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7. The formatting joker
Formatting your resume is key to getting into good books with potential employers. The last thing you want is to have a resume with blocks of text that read like a novel.
Even worse is having a resume that does not have any distinction when it comes to headings and the main body of the paragraph. The key is to ensure that you include formatting to make your resume easy on the eyes.
Some of the things you need to avoid include inconsistent spacing, misaligned icons, and randomized fonts. Regardless of the substance of your resume, if you fail in formatting, potential employers will view you as a lazy or careless individual.
But to get it right, the first thing to do is use a heading at the top of the resume. You should also include subheadings to help potential employers skim through the resume easily.
Additionally, you can bold specific texts to show a distinction. Bullet points and numbers can also help make your resume easy to read through.
Make sure that your resume has different sections for academics, work experience, and hobbies.
Formatting can be compared to your physical appearance. If you attend an interview dressed unprofessionally, you’ll be struck out of the list of potential recruits.
On the other hand, good formatting is like dressing professionally to show just how serious you are about the position you are applying for.
8. Resume vs cover letter
Many people fail to understand the difference between a cover letter and a resume. For that reason, some end up applying with a resume without a cover letter or vice versa.
The truth is that these two documents contain different types of information. They are also quite essential in expressing your desires and showing your potential.
First, you need to realize that your resume contains an elaborate list of your personal details, skills, academic qualifications, and work experience.
A cover letter on the other hand is an expression of interest in a specific position at an organization. Your cover letter contains your name, a direct salutation to the recipient, and compelling details of why you should be hired for the vacant position.
If your document is a mix-up of these two things, the potential employer may not know whether you submitted a resume or a cover letter.
9. It is not an autobiography
When looking for a new job that holds the promise of better pay, you’ll probably be tempted to showcase everything you have ever done.
You do that in a bid to stand out from other candidates seeking the same position. But that can end up working against your interest rather than promoting them.
For example, if you have worked for under 10 years in seven different organizations, you might want to let your potential employer know about such experiences.
However, chances are that you’ll end up writing a resume that exceeds two or three pages. When your resume is too long, employers may end up overlooking your most important achievements and skills.
Remember, there are probably hundreds of resumes being sent to any given organization at the same time. Recruiters, therefore, don’t have the time to read through resumes with three or four pages of content.
They prefer going for shorter resumes that are straightforward and to the point. Instead of including all the work experiences you have, choose those that seem most relevant to the job you are applying for.
This will ensure that your message is in a one-page document that is easy to read through. As a general rule of thumb, if you have less than 10 years of work experience, keep your resume under one page.
If you have work experience that exceeds 10 years, it may be fine to submit a two or three-page document.
10. The buzzword-enthusiast
While crafting your resume, you are obviously thinking of what you can include to ensure that it stands out from the others. In many cases, the use of buzzwords or keywords tends to come up.
Some examples of these phrases include:
- Cutting edge
- Thought leader
These words may sound powerful and can create an impression that you are really good at what you do. But that impression only exists in your mind.
Experienced employers know everything about buzzwords. As a matter of fact, almost half of the resumes they receive contain buzzwords and you’ll therefore not fool them with such.
Instead, focus on writing a simple resume. No need to include catchphrases or words that are rarely used by everyday people.
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11. Don’t mention weaknesses
When crafting a resume, you want to showcase your strengths and achievements, not weaknesses. That is why you should be careful when considering the type of information to include in the education section.
There is no need to point out that you got a less than average mark on your final college exams. If you scored a low GPA, simply ignore the issue altogether.
Keep in mind that there is no requirement for you to include your GPA in a resume. In fact, most employers do not even consider it when vetting candidates.
The only time you might want to include your GPA in a resume is if you scored highly. You should also include it if the employer requests it.
12. Exaggerations can hurt
While your resume should showcase strengths, it must never be turned into something to peddle falsehoods about your qualifications and skills.
In an attempt to stand out from other candidates, some people end up exaggerating what they can do. The problem is that exaggerations may get you an interview but what will follow is disappointment.
For instance, if you claim to be an expert in operating a machine and then during the interview you fail to demonstrate your expertise, the end result is that you’ll be rejected.
By exaggerating things on your resume, you only create a false impression that will not last for long. In fact, you’ll end up wasting your own time and resources.
13. Lack of career progression
Another common mistake people make is to mention their work experience without showing their career progression. This is especially true for individuals that have worked for one organization over a long period.
For instance, an individual may point out that they have worked with a particular organization for 10 years. But that’s all they note on the resume without giving any other details.
Instead of only pointing out the duration you stayed with an organization, go ahead and detail your career progression with that organization.
Under your work experience with the organization, include bullet points that show what position you held in the first year. Include other bullet points that show how you were promoted over the 10 years you were working with the company.
Failure to showcase your career progression may create a bad impression. Some potential employers may view you as an individual with no ambitions while others will not understand the value you bring to their organization.
Your career progression shows potential employers your ability to perform at different levels and the reasons you got promoted.
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14. Bad references
Putting down a list of references in your resume is good practice. However, don’t be tempted to list references you had a falling out with.
If you had a disagreement with your employer because you constantly reported late to work or argued with customers all the time, ignore such references.
That is because when your resume moves to a critical stage, a potential employer may want to get an independent opinion of who you are and how you work.
When such an employer calls your references and all they hear is how you were caught in various scandals, then your chances of securing a job go down the drain.
It is important that you only include references that you had cordial relations with. Simply consider people who can speak positively about you whether you resigned or the contract came to an end.
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15. The wrong kind of personal information
While your resume should contain personal information, you should not throw in every little detail about yourself. For instance, there is no need to point out your age, nationality, religion, and race.
This information does not affect your ability to execute tasks, which is why it should not be included in the resume. When you include such information, it forces your potential employer to start thinking in a certain way.
For example, your employer will start thinking of how your age will affect company dynamics. They may also start looking at your ability to stay with them over the long term because of age.
Mentioning your nationality will leave the employer wondering if you are able to communicate fluently in a specific language. Your religion is another piece of information you might want to leave out.
Your potential employer may start wondering if your religion will constrain you from carrying out certain duties or if you’ll be forced to take frequent breaks to attend to religious customs.
If your resume contains this wrong type of personal information, the best way to fix it is just to delete it.
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Having looked at the 15 bad resume examples and ways to fix them, it is clear that a resume should be simple and to the point.
Ensure proper formatting, proofread your texts, and focus on the skills and experiences necessary for the position you are applying to.
Scott L. Macarthur is a marketing consultant and an online author. He is mostly engaged in providing his expertise to startups and SMBs. He is also an author on TheNextWeb.