5 Resume Mistakes to Avoid

Oct 13, 2016 | Administrative Professionals

5 Resume Mistakes to AvoidYour resume is the single most important component of your job search toolkit. In most cases, it’s the first piece of “you” that a potential employer will see. Whether or not you get called in for an interview depends on what you have included in your resume and the first impression it creates when the viewer reviews it.

But is it good enough? How can you tell?

We’re all human, so we’re prone to making mistakes. But a mistake on your resume can prove disastrous to your admin career! You already know that typos, grammatical errors, and contact information mistakes are deal breakers — but an error-free resume still doesn’t guarantee a callback. Here are five common resume mistakes that could derail your chances of scoring that all-important interview.

1. Failing to Modify Your Template

Resume templates are incredibly common. A quick Google search of the term delivers more than 39 million results in the blink of an eye. And templates can prove more than useful – as long as you remember to modify them before you submit your resume!

A colleague of mine was about to call in a prime candidate for an interview when she realized that the text on her resume was nearly identical to another resume she came across in her stack. They had both used the same template, which proved to be a total turn off for the hiring manager, who realized fairly quickly that the words on their resumes weren’t authentically “theirs.” My friend said it basically equated to plagiarism and demonstrated a lack of ethics and integrity from her perspective.

Don’t fall into this trap! Sure, downloadable templates are a fine starting point, but failing to tailor that template to your unique experience and knowledge makes you look lazy — which is the exact opposite of what a competent admin should be!

2. Touting Titles, Not Accomplishments

Were you the executive assistant to the senior VP at your previous job? Fantastic! But a hiring manager isn’t interested in your title — they’re interested in what you did in that capacity!

Avoid phrases like “responsible for” or “tasked with.” Those words just say what you were supposed to do — not what you actually accomplished in your time on the job. Skip the generalized description and sell your strengths and accomplishments, instead!

Did you increase sales by a certain percent? Implement new procedures that saved a certain amount of time and effort for your team or executive? Update your resume to reflect that! Hiring managers are far more interested in quantifiable accomplishments than they are in cliché job titles or descriptions.

3. A Weak Personal Branding Statement

Some call it a mission statement, or perhaps a personal branding statement. Others call it an objective. Any way you look at it, it’s a chance to introduce yourself in just a few sentences at the very top of your resume — and if it’s not on point, it’s going to be passed over in quick order.

I recommend a combination of three words or phrases to create that powerful first impression — your personal branding statements — combined with a career profile summary to highlight your skills and experience.

In Chapter 14 of my latest book, The Organized Admin, I suggest an exercise for developing this crucial resume component:

“List the three words or short phrases that best describe the way you work, think, function, or perform professionally.”

What is the first impression you want someone to have of you from the moment they see your name and the top of your resume? Personal branding statements help create that memorable impression. Once you have those things in mind, you can create your personal branding statement.


Strategic thinker. Problem solver. Administrative professional.
Project manager. Event planner. Office professional.
Process analyst. Microsoft Office expert. Travel planning pro.

The career profile statement is the first thing that follows your header information on your resume and may look something like this:

A proactive and results-oriented administrative professional with a proven ability to provide comprehensive support for C- and VP-level executives and their management teams, a track record of exceeding expectations, and a knack for developing and maintaining administrative procedures that reduce redundancy, improve accuracy and efficiency, and achieve corporate objectives.

Remember, you’re looking for examples — not just corporate buzzwords — and your branding statements and career profile summary should be supported by the quantifiable proof you provide in the experience portion of your resume.

4. Not Having a Backup

Anyone who has ever had an important document eaten alive by an operating system will agree that computers are not infallible. That’s why I emphatically suggest all admins store their resumes in several different locations, both digitally and on paper!

You should, at a minimum, have your resume stored on your personal computer and a flash drive as a backup. It’s ok to store it at work also, but in the case of a crash, an IT sweep, or a layoff, this should not be the only location where you have this vital file stored! You should also keep a hard copy in your filing cabinet and professional portfolio. This ensures that, should one copy be wiped out, you have backup copies, and don’t have to start from scratch if something goes wrong.

5. Not Treating Your Resume as a Living Document

If you lost your job today as a result of a merger, an acquisition, or your executive’s sudden departure, would you be prepared? Could you immediately start applying for jobs?

If your dream job opened up tomorrow, requiring only a (current) resume, would you be able to jump on it?

Many admins make the mistake of not treating their resume as a “living” document — something that changes along with them and their career, and a resource that they can utilize in a pinch with very little modification.

Every time you learn a new skill — add it! Each time you get a new title — document it! Whenever you gain a new certification — put it on your resume!

Many admins would like to think that their current job is their “forever” job, and for some, it very well may be. But no one knows when opportunity will knock…or when the rug will be pulled out from under them. Having a current resume when it happens can make all the difference in the world!

Resumes are essential for any administrative professional. Be sure your resume is current, professional, and uniquely yours! When you do, your chances of success increase!


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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures. 

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