Top 10 most common resume mistakes made in the U.S

We’ll take a closer look into the 2021 job application survey showing the most common resume mistakes made by US job seekers. There will be plenty of takeaway today:

  • 10 most common resume mistakes
  • Three most used words in a resume
  • Most misspelled words in a resume
  • Action verbs for a brilliant resume

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10 common resume mistakes ranked 1 to 10

  •  Incorrect spelling
  • Not including a resume profile
  • Gaps in work history
  • Odd file names
  • Missing residential address
  • Writing too long or too short of a resume
  • Lacking or providing an invalid phone number
  • Too many uppercased letters
  • Lacking an email address
  • Using British spelling

The three words that reigns supreme

Words fill up our resume like trees fill up a lush forest. Now for the sake of today’s topic, we go an extra mile deep with all things words. Which words show up most in a resume, ever wondered? Well, without further ado here’s the crowning champions, the gold, silver and bronze medal holders of a resume:

  1. Experience
  2. Responsible
  3. Successful

Now we cannot stress this enough, it is high time to sway away from these words. If these words showed up one more time, chances are very high, HR Managers will have their eyes rolled back all the way to egg white territory.

Now of course, finding resume action verbs doesn’t have to be a demanding task. This lottery below opens up your resume fortune. Your resume will start to glint like diamonds with words so carefully picked it might as well be written by Ogilvy himself. 

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#1 Action Verbs eBook for the job market.


Adzuna research revealed very concerning resume mistakes

You might have prepped your resume with professional proofreading. But are you sure you are not making any of the 10 fatal mistakes most job seekers make unknowingly? We are about to discuss them below, which is the work of a concerted research effort spearheaded by Adzuna. Double check against these mistakes to ensure your resume can hold HR Manager’s attention with an iron grip, instead of slipping through the crack.

 1. Incorrect spelling

Your resume’s trying desperately to drag itself to the finish line. Then bludgeoned to death right at the start of the race with your choppy wordings and sloppy spellings here and there.

A research by SHRM survey showed, 81% HR professionals sometimes spots grammar or spelling errors in a job application, and 9% always spots an error. While the other 11% rarely finds one. Now it is absolutely imperative that you land yourself into the speck free category. Otherwise, you will be seen as someone who is just prone to making small mistakes, that is a deafening alarm bell you do not want to ring.

On the other hand, Adzuna analysed almost 93K resumes and found, nearly 64% had one mistake of any kind, 13.5% had 5 or more mistakes, and 1.5% had 20 oops in them, meaning a little over 1/3rd were  in mint condition.

While one mistake might cut you a break. But good lord, having five? Such sloppiness is why 1/3rd of the resume never makes it past ATS. Please let this be heard loud and clear, we do not condone even a single spelling error or an error of any kind. Be in the 1/3rd club where your resume is rock solid.

Your resume and cover letter is your lifeline to get yourself a hot seat into the interview room. Perhaps one odd mistake can be looked past by a very generous HR Manager for an entry-level role. However, that single mistake will land you straight to the trash bin, if your job application was sent for a managerial role. Because as a manager you are the glue that holds all things together. And someone who casually slips through a spelling error? That’s one manager the hiring manager wants nothing to do with.

2. Not including a resume profile

Remember, you’re selling a story. Professional summary serves as an excellent way to show how your skillset matches with the job requirements. Your accomplishments give them a picture of future success you will bring to your employer.

On average, employers or recruiters spends only 6 seconds on a resume. If you want to grab them by the jugular, you need to vaporize their doubts like smoke in the air in this narrow window. 

Crafting the perfect resume profile can be a powerful tool to catch an employer's attention and begin selling your talents right away. Make sure you know what they're looking for, so that within 6 seconds, you’ve cast a spell of black magic over them. Now, they can’t seem to get enough of you.

To make sure it plays with their attention, take time crafting this benchmark section of your resume with as much care as possible. It confounds us, why 48% candidates would skip this section in their resume. It is the #1 gun to go for in your resume.

3. Gaps in work history

If there are gaps in your career of a few months, a smart thing to do would be to remove the month and simply tag years under work experience. Because if there are gaps of 3 months or 6 months, it raises a lot of questions in recruiters mind, which they wouldn’t have answer to.

Were you fired from the job? Nobody leaves a company without securing another job first. Was it any accident, which required to be hospitalised. There are plethora of reasons. So, you need a good cover to explain those gaps in the cover letter.

4. Odd file names

File names that looks like it’s hosting a Trojan party inside is a big no. Please refrain from half-ass naming, excuse our French. Sending a file name that reads “V2”, “draft”, “Accounting Latest 2022” is a sign, you don’t know first thing about basic cataloguing. Simply add your name to the file, followed by what it is. For example, “John Doe - Resume.doc”

5. Missing residential address

HR Managers wants to know if you need to hitch hike Elon’s SpaceX shuttle to commute from mars. Because that means, you would spend hours on the metro, which would consequentially drag work performance.

That’s why it is very important to provide your suburb and postcode. You do not need to provide the whole address down to your apartment number.

Now if you live 30 minutes to 60 minutes travel time from your workplace, your job application will fare fine. However, if it’s over an hour, you will likely be turned down. There is a way around it however, mention on your cover letter, you are willing to relocate to a closer suburb, should this opportunity land on you.

6. Writing too long or too short of a resume

There are cases where resume should have finished by 1 page, but it droned on and on and spilled over to page 2 and ruining the resume’s success. It is basically telling HR Manager, you do not even know what is relevant for this job. You’re basically throwing everything at it, hoping a few would stick.

And then there are resume’s that should have expanded or elaborated due to their experience but ended up being far too short because they desperately wanted to keep it within 1 page or 2 page.

The only key thing here is relevance.

Let’s elaborate a little better shall we? If you are a professional with 10 years of experience, drop all your diploma or college degrees from your resume and with that all the side hustles or odd jobs you did to support your education. You now have 10 years of professional battle tested experience; those toddler doddle-sketching skills are no longer relevant.

As you scroll down to the past, with each work experience, you gradually reduce the bullet points to two. Latest gigs must carry three to four bullet points.

For students or graduate resumes, you mustn’t do it over 1 page. That is literally hacking your resume to pieces, with almost zero chance of progressing to the interview stage. HR Managers likes them who knows how to extract diamonds and lays them bare on the table. Just a pouch of sparkly stones and nothing more, nothing less. No dragging for miles with what you did in those sorority or university campus projects, or if you were a star athlete.

If you’re applying for a junior paralegal position, you can talk about those university project’s, so long they are fine tuned to carry along the lines of the job you will be doing.

For example, you researched publicly available data from social media to target students for a fundraiser for local animal charity, you were collecting data on people who have pets or follows any page that deals with animal cruelty. How is this relevant? Well for one, it shows you know how to work around sharp corners to achieve results without breaking any law in the process. Being a paralegal and having detective skills is a match made in heaven.

7. Lacking or providing an invalid phone number

Do you really think HR Manager will be kind enough to email a candidate to ask for their correct phone number? Because that blooper ended up ranging Hector instead of Hannah because Hannah put an 8 where should have been a 7 instead. HR Manager rang to get her called in for an interview. Too bad, Hannah’s chances instantly crashed to death.

Moral of the story, attention pays and pays big. Be very attentive with everything in your resume, like you are signing a million dollar home mortgage. 

8. Too many uppercased letters

Writing your resume with too many uppercase letters like it’s a fashion magazine will distract HR Managers and it is often counter intuitive. It does the exact opposite of what you were trying to achieve. If you want to bring attention to a particular point, the standard and eye friendly rule is to simply turn it bold or highlight those few words. INSTEAD OF making it LOOK like THESE.

9. Lacking an email address

Some candidates were using incorrect or even no email address. This is a no brainer in the 21st century. I mean last I checked my calendar read 2023 and not 1923. So, you must provide a personal email address. You might have a corporate email address, however do not use that email address to go for job hunting. That is highly frowned upon in the world of job market. 

10. Using British spelling

As they say, when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do. Sending your resume to a HR Manager in USA but using British spelling is a bit of an insult to her. It’s best to make adjustments for these subtle spelling variations. It shows you are centred and know your audience. We’ll now present a table of most commonly misspelled words.

10 most common spelling errors in resumes (U.S. job applications)

 Correct US Spelling What was used in the resume
Training Trainings
Modeling Moddeling
Judgment Judgement
Program Programme
Skill Set Skillset
Submission Submittal
Inquiries Enquiries
Organization Organisation
Behavior Behaviour
Honors Honours

Interestingly, Texans were most prone to doing an oppsy, followed by jobseekers from California, New York and Florida. Alaska and North Dakota had the fewest errors.


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Top 10 most common resume mistakes made in the U.S
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Areli Nevan has 15 years of writing experience in career columns. A professional resume writer with vast experience in his portfolios helping candidates create job winning applications.