In my 17 year writing career, I have had the opportunity to review thousands of self-written resumes. Very few are great, some have a really good start on what could be an excellent resume, and the vast majority are unfocused and a poor representation of the individual’s skills and abilities. If you have decided to write your own resume — due to an unexpected opportunity or financial constraints — make sure your resume doesn’t have any of the following mistakes.

Avoid these fatal resume flaws.

Mistakes to Avoid on Your Resume

* Including an old-school objective statement. The opening of your resume should summarize who you are and the value you offer an employer. Did you start your document by using an objective statement that is “me-focused” rather than “employer-focused”. Think of the opening as your introduction at a networking event. Would you introduce yourself by stating “Hi, I’m an excellent communicator seeking an opportunity to contribute to your job search success.” OR, “Hi, as a career strategist with more than 15 years’ experience, I craft resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles that help individuals win interviews resulting in candidate placements.”?  Which statement gives you an idea of what I do and how I can be of assistance to you?

* Focusing on job duties and descriptions. Now is not the time to write in broad, general terms that describes any employee holding the same title as you. Write with laser-focus on your individual accomplishments — the outcome of your efforts.  Anyone can write, “Managed a tri-state territory.” Make it your own by focusing on how well you did it, “Secured 12 new clients and an additional $75K in sales through effective management of tri-state territory.” The first statement says what you and any number of clients did. The second statement is individualized by stating what you did and how well you did it.

* Leaving off numbers. Measurable outcomes will help set you apart from candidates with similar experience. When trying to determine what information should be used on your resume, ask yourself, “What happened next?” If you can determine an outcome, the information probably be used on your resume. Action=outcome. “I sold cleaning products.”
Ok, so does any number of people. Take it a step further “I sold cleaning products (how?) by direct contact and using cold calling techniques (what happened next?) which helped expand the territory and boost my sales numbers.” Now craft your statement using the information you have gathered. “Devised effective cold-calling techniques to grow sales leads
resulting in 40% expansion to territory and $90K to bottom-line.” A 40% expansion in territory and $90K to the bottom-line will get more attention that “Sold cleaning products.” Note: Be truthful when using figures.

* Placing non-related information or outdated skills on your document.. You are seeking a position in sales but your early career was as a janitor. Do you include it? Does it contribute to the employer’s needs? Does it age you (maybe you were a janitor in 1979 but started a successful sales career in 1990)? You have to qualify everything placed on your resume but identifying your target audience, then writing toward that target. The accepted rule of thumb is employment information usually dates back 10 to 15 years unless highly relevant to the position being sought.

* Using novel-style writing. Resumes are gateways to interviews and are scanned by busy HR professionals or recruiters in just a few seconds. With this in mind, documents that are written with full sentence structures (novel style) or printed on glitzy paper with fancy
fonts will not help get you noticed. Keep your writing clear and concise and targeted toward the position you are seeking and your paper choice and fonts conservative and professional.

And the top mistake …

* Spelling errors. 58% of employers identified resumes with typos lead to automatic dismissal of a candidate (as sited in a 2013 CareerBuilder survey.) Do not rely on spell-check to catch errors. This built-in application has no way of knowing manger is really manager OR arena is really area. Be especially vigilant when reviewing headers in all caps.

Packaging your employment history, skills, and abilities in the most up-to-date manner is paramount to your job search success. If you need help developing or polishing your resume, Breakthrough Resume Writing Service is a virtual (online) business that offers assistance to people from around the globe. From the privacy of your own home, you can contact Tammy at

About the Author:
Tammy Shoup, Executive Resume Writer and Career Strategist, is among a small number of professional résumé writers in the U.S. who has earned the title of Certified Professional Résumé Writer from the Professional Association of Résumé Writers / Career Coaches.

Shoup is also a member of the National Résumé Writers’ Association and Career Directors International. Her activity in both organizations ensures that her knowledge of industry and
employment trends remains current. It also indicates her dedication to continuing education in her industry. Her work is published in both JIST and Barron’s career books.
Please review Shoup’s information at www.breakthroughrésumé or or inquire directly to Tammy Shoup at

Wishing you the best in your job search campaign! †