Key resume mistakes

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Resumes are your key to scoring an interview and landing a job. Other than the cover letter, it's the first document that employers assess before deciding to move forward with an application, so you want to be sure that it accurately represents you and your experience.

Business News Daily spoke with hiring and HR experts to help you tackle some common resume errors and wow your future boss. Here are six mistakes to avoid.

Being too informal

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You're applying for a professional position, so you want to appear matured and qualified. That means using proper grammar, avoiding acronyms you might use when texting and adhering to a consistent format.

One common mistake that many applicants is listing an inappropriate email, like that embarrassing username you've used since middle school, as your contact email. Doing so might come off as unprofessional, said Jodi Chavez, president of Randstad Professionals and Life Sciences at Randstad US.

"Ditch your nickname in favor of an email that includes your name or an abbreviation of it – after all, this will likely be the first direct line of communication between you and your potential employer," she said.

Making it too obvious

Stating the obvious resumes
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"I constantly see candidates listing obvious duties in bullet points under a job title," said Yahya Mokhtarzada CEO of Truebill. "If an applicant was a host at TGI Friday's for three years, I can assume they undertook common host/hostess duties such as greeting guests and seating them at tables."

Mokhtarzada suggested using the bullet-point space to list things you've done that an employer wouldn't guess or to illustrate instances when you went above and beyond.

Making simple mistakes

Making simple mistakes
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You know the line: everybody makes mistakes. In fact, you should expect to make them, and actively seek them out while proofreading your resume. You don't want your resume to be tossed, and to lose your chance at your dream career, because of one minor and preventable error.

"Documents with easily avoidable mistakes help hiring managers to weed out sloppy job seekers when sorting through applications," said Chavez. "Print it out, read it aloud and ask a friend to give it a second look."

Make sure everything is up-to-date, relevant and formatted properly. Also keep in mind that submitting a resume in a format other than PDF could hurt your chances of getting seen. If you do choose to send a Word document, be sure to double-check everything, especially if you've tracked your edits.

Lying (about anything)

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While you might think that exaggerating your experience or stretching the truth on your resume will help "get your foot in the door," lying is not the way to do it.

"An embellished resume can actually ruin your chances of success since most details can be verified through interview questions and checking references," added Chavez. "Make your accomplishments shine, but stick to the facts."

Outdated experience that is no longer relevant may not be an outright lie, but it does detract from your credibility. Dana Case, director of operations at, said that outdated skills make a candidate appear not to be genuine.

"Irrelevant work experience only shows that the candidate had a job in the past while showing nothing about what they can offer to a company," Case said. "If [your resume] states you are fluent in a language and you are asked about it, then admitting it has been quite some time since you spoke fluently never looks good."

Writing passively

Passive resume
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Duncan Murtagh, co-founder of Vetter, said job seekers often write their resumes in a passive rather than active voice.

"They treat their resumes like applications you'd fill out at an entry-level position for high schoolers and simply list previous experience duties," Murtagh said.

Instead of a bland, bulleted list of duties, show results: Hiring managers like to see concrete, quantifiable data of your accomplishments.

Making it too long

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Your resume should never be longer than necessary. A multipage resume works if you're at the senior level and have a long, varied work history, but if you apply for a lower-level role and have only had a couple of jobs in the same industry, there's no reason it shouldn't all fit on one page, said Sasha Surman, who handles client experience at LiftForward, Inc.

Working with formatting can bring it down to one page, as well, Shannon Plush, coordinator of strategic HR projects for Pittsburgh Public Schools, told Business News Daily.

"Tighten up your language and adjust your formatting so that your resume content can fit on one page," Plush added. "Otherwise, it looks sloppy and highlights for the employer that you don't have enough to offer to fill up two pages."

Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.