This is how to avoid all of the biggest resume mistakes

Does your resume really have to be one page? How can you craft your resume to get past the robots? What should you cut from your resume?


Early in my career I blindly sent out hundreds of résumés. I was in a position that a lot of new grads find themselves in: I wanted to get my foot in the door of an industry and I had no connections. Needless to say, it took a long time before an editor took a chance on me and gave me my first magazine job.

But I likely could have cut down on that lengthy job search if I didn’t make a few of the most common résumé mistakes. For instance, I know I clung to the common advice of including an objective statement for way too long. Now that makes me cringe: Including an objective statement is a waste of space. Your objective is to get the job you are applying for. Here are three biggest résumé mistakes to avoid:

1. Using the same résumé for multiple jobs. Yes, it’s much easier to send one résumé to 100 job postings, but you’ll probably have a better chance, statistically, if you send 10 or 20 résumés that you’ve tailored to each company and job description. When recruiters go through your résumé, they’re looking for reasons to say no. If you give them a cookie-cutter one, that’s a strong reason for them to move yours to the “no” pile.

2. Not making it easy for recruiters to skim your résumé. Recruiters spend, on average, 7.4 seconds skimming your résumé, so you want to make sure that they know your point of difference. Don’t stuff too many keywords or put generic skills at the top of the résumé. Instead, make sure to highlight your skills and quantifiable achievements on the top half so that they want to keep scrolling down. Chances are, they’re reading on a screen.

3. Making your résumé vague. Don’t put your trendy job title that no one understands, and make sure that you include quantifiable achievements in your résumé. It’s milestones and figures that will make recruiters want to move you along to the next stage of the hiring process.

We are dedicating all of season 3 of Secrets of the Most Productive People to everything about getting a job and excelling in your career. On the first episode we break down all of the most common résumé mistakes that job candidates make—whether they’re just starting out, or have been in the workforce for decades. I also debate (possibly) the oldest résumé advice of all time with my boss, Fast Company editor in chief Stephanie Mehta: Do you have to keep your résumé to one page?

You can find the episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, RadioPublic, or wherever you get your podcasts.

And new this season, we’re answering your question: What’s the career question that Google can’t help you out with? In the next few episodes we’ll be tackling how to craft your online presence, how to answer the most common interview questions, how to negotiate your starting salary, and more. Leave a voicemail with your question at ‪(201) 371-3278, and your question might be featured on an upcoming episode.

Kathleen Davis is Deputy Editor at Previously, she has worked as an editor at, and Popular Photography magazine. More

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