Resume mistakes are almost as common as resumes themselves. These five common mistakes can mean the difference between landing the job and continuing the search. Fortunately, you can easily fix these errors.

Your resume is the closest thing an employer gets to a window into your soul, but drafting this document is no small feat. If you’re like a lot of job seekers, you may focus on getting your resume done quickly at the expense of completing it to perfection. This mysterious document doesn’t have to prove permanently challenging, though. Make these five tweaks to your resume and watch as the emails from recruiters begin accumulating.

  1. Listing Duties Instead of Achievements
    The employer with whom you apply probably already knows the basic duties your previous job demanded. After all, it’s not as if the job duties of a secretary, lawyer, or doctor are a big secret. Don’t waste precious resume space listing your job duties. Instead, highlight your achievements. Don’t simply state that you answered phones; talk about how you brought in new clients or operated a complex switchboard instead. By highlighting your achievements, you stand out ahead of everyone else, most of whom probably listed only job duties.
  2. Padding Your Resume
    Your resume does not need to be a specific length, and not everyone can have a packed resume. Instead, your resume needs to be an accurate reflection of where you are in your career. Adding in irrelevant skills or highlighting jobs you had 20 years ago makes you look less qualified, not more.
  3. Poor Quality Writing
    A recent survey found that 61% of resumes have typos. Do yourself a favor and ask at least two other people to read over your resume. And once you’ve eliminated all typos, look at the quality of writing. Get rid of passive voice, which robs you of credit. For example, the award was not won; you won it! Keep your verb tenses the same throughout your resume, and avoid excessive wordiness, which will quickly cause employers’ eyes to glaze over.
  4. Poor Formatting
    Particularly if you’re applying for a job that requires computer skills — which most do — your resume needs to look like you know what you’re doing. Keep the fonts plain and clear, and avoid excessively large print. But ensure that your resume is neatly organized and flows well. If you run out of room, for example, you might put your contact information in the margins or rely on columns — two choices that show you know what you’re doing behind the computer.
  5. Forgetting About Skills and Awards
    Potential employers don’t just want to know what you did at your previous jobs. They also want to know what you’ve learned. If the job for which you’re applying is skill-intensive, be sure to add a skills section to your resume. Highlight only those skills that are noteworthy and specifically relevant to the job; competence with sending emails or the ability to use Google, for example, have no place on your resume. Higher-end skills such as knowledge of a specific programming language or experience with an unusual word processor, though, should figure prominently. If you’ve won any awards, consider also adding an awards section, which shows you’re not just good at what you do, but great.
Written: January 2015