Common Resume Mistakes

Posted on Sunday 15 February 2015


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This article is part of our Finance Hub.

The greater your income is, the easier it is to build a successful budget. We have already covered how to secure a pay raise, but what if you don’t even have employment to begin with?

Unless you’ve got windfall income, you’re going to need a job. After all, we all need a nice pay check. So the first step in getting a job is is building a winning resume.

In this article we’ll cover five things to avoid when writing your resume, as well as some suggestions on what to write instead. Hopefully this will help you get a job.

Personal Information

Canada has some strong anti-discrimination laws, so employers aren’t allowed to inquire about your:

  • Age
  • Citizenship or immigration status
  • Religion
  • Disabilities
  • Marital or family status
  • Your debts
  • Political affiliations

Don’t include these details in your resume. They key is to highlight your accomplishments and merits. That way, a potential employer can evaluate you based on your achievements and skills rather than any personal biases he or she may have.


Don’t Include A Photo.

You also aren’t obligated to include your year of graduation in the education section. When it comes to the contact information, save funny novelty email addresses for your close friends and family.
Instead, set up a professional-looking email address under your real name.

Avoid Adding Irrelevant Experience

Say what you need to say but spend time focusing on your relevant experience and detail your achievements.

It’s a good rule of thumb to customize your resume for each company that you apply for. For instance, if you’re applying for a job in the architecture sector, highlight your work in 3D modelling rather than your barista experience.

The only time hobbies belong on your resume is when they’re directly relevant to the job. If you’re applying for a graphic design position, definitely mention your interest in urban sketching. However, if you’re trying to get a job as a software designer, your affinity for tap-dance is better left off the page.


If you’re applying at entry-level, you might not have much relevant experience. If you have career gaps or a very short working history, try to recall activities you participated during those times that relate to the job you’re applying for. Remember, it’s OK to get creative.


Ditch The Self Praise

“I am a very good worker.”

Every employer likes a good worker, but who’s to say you’re telling the truth? It’s very easy to fall into the trap of filling your resume with vague statements about your responsibilities.


What employers are more interested in seeing is concrete quantifiable numbers.


Whenever possible, put a figure on your success. Did you increase customer retention by thirty percent?

Were you responsible for 10 percent of your company’s sales? Did you complete a project $100,000 under budget?

A few well-chosen figures can really help you land that job.



Stop It With The Clichés

Are you a “go-getter,” or a “team player?” Do you “proactively think outside the box?” Are you “dynamic,” “self-motivated,” and “results-driven?”.

If you are, please don’t say it.

In 2014, the Canadian jobs website CareerBuilder polled hiring managers on the terms they didn’t like to see on a resume. Those seven terms we just mentioned were among the top 15 worst phrases.

Keep clichés off your resume.


What do recruiters like to see instead? Mostly verbs, it turns out. “Achieved,” “improved,” “trained,” “managed,” and “created” are all excellent options. Conveniently enough, these verbs go very well with numbers. And as we just mentioned, recruiters and employers love numbers.

For example, if you can say that you “managed a team of twelve people,” you'll impress a hiring manager twice in one sentence.



Stylistic Errors

First, in an age of automated spell-checking, there is no excuse for a resume to be full of typos. Make sure that you proofread, because unprofessional mistakes can land an otherwise good job application in the recycling bin.

Keep your formatting simple. A bit of presentation effort can make your resume stand out. Type everything in black in a classic font like Arial. Save underlined, bold, and italic text for headings only. Don’t include any pictures.

Plus if you’re submitting electronically, submitting in PDF is always an excellent idea. Word documents are great places for viruses to hide, and some employers simply delete emails with attachments other than PDFs.

Create a cover letter, and you’re finally ready to press send!


Once you’ve nailed that job, you can start saving and investing that hard-earned income. A real financial advisor can help you create a solid plan for the future. No matter what you decide, you’re on the path to success.