Bad Resume Advice: Nine Resume Writing Don’ts

Posted by Dawn Boyer

What is some of the worst resume advice you’ve ever gotten?

Some resumes I’ve reviewed recently make me shake my head. Where on earth did the resume owners get their advice?

In light of sequestration and the government shutdown, make sure your resume is in shape. These tips will help cleared job seekers avoid the ‘round file’ when creating or updating their resumes. Don’t make these mistakes when writing that vital career search resume.


  • 1. Add photos, marital status, number of kids, birth dates, social security number or a street address. Once you provide this data, identity thieves have all they need. And you don’t know who may see your resume. Recruiters don’t need this data until an offer letter is written.

  • 2. Leave out education and training. Separate them into two sections, include dates, spell out the degree (Bachelor of Science), and include discipline(s), full name of the school, city, and state.

  • 3. Use a professional (story) writer for your resume. They are accustomed to writing adjective-rich, and subjective stories versus writing a concise, bulleted list of achievements. Don’t hire a resume writer just because they are certified. These certifications can be purchased for under $300 and don’t guarantee expertise in writing for a niche business industry.

  • 4. Add graphics – butterflies, lines, boxes, and/or IT certification logos, which get stripped in scanning and waste valuable white space preferred for text information.

  • 5. List experience you don’t have. If you’ve touched it or looked over someone’s shoulder, mention you are ‘familiar with’ or have ‘baseline knowledge’ of, but not experience.

  • 6. Use a type size so small the reader needs a magnifying glass or use a quarter-inch margin to fit the resume on one page. Use 10 or 12 point and make margins one inch.

  • 7. Print a resume on card-stock or brightly colored paper to stand out. The ‘stand-out’ will result in the opinion you are not professional, and it may be more difficult to scan.

  • 8. Send out thousands of resumes and apply for jobs you’re not qualified for. This expands a career search to unmanageable levels and wastes everyone’s time.

  • 9. Make the resume read like a letter from home. Recruiters need to quickly glance through tightly-written, bulleted listings of achievements, not a mass of dense prose.

Write your resume carefully and avoid the pitfalls that would push it into the trashcan. Use these tips to ensure your resume is more professional and eye-catching than your competition.

Dawn Boyer is a career services coach, social media management, human resources, and business development consultant. Follow Dawn on Twitter @Dawn_Boyer.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 9:04 am

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