11 Common Résumé Errors

filling resume on wooden table, close-up

Person writing resume on a wooden table, close-up.Jordan WarshafskyBy Jordan Warshafsky, Partner, Ashton Tweed


Don’t fall victim to these top eleven résumé errors. The job market for the life sciences is so competitive that one can’t risk making these common mistakes, for they might lead to your immediate elimination as a potential job candidate. Go through this checklist before submitting your résumé:


1. Typos: There is NO excuse for errors, grammatical or other errors. Proofread and then proofread again. Have a third party read the résumé, not for content, but for mistakes.


2. No focus: Write a professional summary of what you have to offer rather than a professional objective statement. A summary gives a focus to you and your career experience, while an objective is vague and uninformative. Remember, that many readers never get beyond the introductory summary paragraph. So make it impactful.


3. Lacking keywords: Your résumé should be specific to each job opportunity. It’s a critical mistake to send out a one-size fits-all résumé. Use keywords from the job description.


4. Missing relevant accomplishments: Don’t be modest in your résumé. In order to market your skills and personality, make sure to list notable activities, awards, and accomplishments. Be as quantitative as you possibly can.


5. Too long or too short: Be selective. Don’t list irrelevant or obvious skills. However, don’t sacrifice notable details to keep your résumé under a certain length.


6. Lengthy Lists: For each career experience, focus on specifying your accomplishments rather than listing lengthy job responsibilities. Answer what did you complete and how successful was it?


7. Visually unappealing: Be careful not to have inconsistent formatting; your résumé should be uniform. Be wary of too many fonts and colors and keep an eye out for large blocks of text or blank space. A bullet point format is easiest to use and read.


8. Point of View: Your résumé can be written in 1st or 3rd Just make sure to drop the pronoun in your sentences and phrases. EX: Write “Managed the business development initiative” rather than “I managed the business development initiative.”


9. Fluff phrases: Use action verbs and strong words to depict your experiences. Avoid overused phrases and words because they will not help you stand out from other candidates.


10. Email choice: You don’t want to use your past or current work email, but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to use an unprofessional email. Use a simple personal email that easily identifies you. EX: Use JPeterson@email.com instead of KoolKat79@email.com.


11. Out of date: You MUST keep your résumé up-to-date. Add current and relevant information and cut out anything that is no longer applicable. And remember, a résumé must be totally honest and true.


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Share your insights! Contact jamesrudman@ashtontweed.com to contribute your life sciences article as a guest writer.


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