Biggest common resume mistakes

July 2, 2015

This article is a rant. Be prepared for brutal feedback.

Every week my email gets bombarded by random un-requested resume emails. It’s quite exciting to feel that our company is in people’s minds and that it seems like an exciting place to work (at least that’s what we make of it). Still, the truth of the matter is that most of the applicants we see completely fail at becoming potential hires. Let me tell you why.

1- DO NOT send a resume if nobody asked for it

You’d think this is the most obvious part, but it’s not. If a company is looking to fill an opening you can rest assured that they will let the world know about it. Sending an unrequested email will not put you on a hire queue, and if you catch me on a bad hair day it will most certainly get your message on the junk mail folder.

Most startups have a jobs page if they are looking for hires, or will at least post about it in social media. The least you can do is go through the trouble of checking.  

2- .doc files

Rant incoming.

Few things annoy the me more than a .doc resume file. Is creating a PDF that hard?  Very few things speak worse about you than sending a Word Document: doc files are editable! They should only be used if you want the recipient to be able to change/adjust the content, otherwise, a PDF should ALWAYS be the format of choice. Creating one is not that hard, Microsoft Word has supported PDF exports for a decade now.

Also, for some reason the .doc file name always seems to go around the lines of ‘Resume Tim Final Version2’. Unbelievable.

This is not rocket science. Please, stop the madness.  

3- Typos

Need I say anything more about this?

A big highlight on this section is Google Translated resumes. Yes, they exist. Please ask a few people to proof read your resume before you send it to your potential boss. They can help you catch grammar mistakes you might have missed.

4- Calibri

Oh boy do I hate Calibri. I’ve ranted about this multiple times. It speaks too much about you and in this case, it says:

“I didn’t care to change the default font on this document because it looked ‘OK’. That’s exactly how I will perform at my job, just OK.”

Related Read: Fonts to avoid default fonts

5- Summary of Skills

No, writing that you are a ‘fast learner’ and ‘detail-oriented’ does not set you apart from the pack. Au contraire.


It’s also not uncommon to find resumes talking about religious beliefs, hobbies, favourite sports and useless awards like Quidditch World Cup RunnerUp.  We.Don't.Care. (at least for the moment. If we hire you, there'll be plenty of time for bonding).

Another common mistake we come across more than often is a sentence like this:

Proficient in Adobe Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6.

Oh really? So you have no idea how Photoshop CC 2015 works? Is the torrent not available yet? Or is this the 2012 version of your resume?

Point is, if you know how to use Photoshop you are supposed to be able to use any version of the software. Furthermore, Photoshop is an incredibly powerful tool that serves a number of purposes, and very few people actually claim to be proficient in all of them. Are you a graphic designer? Or a photo editor? Or a painter/illustrator?

A similar case goes for outlining that you know how to use Windows/Mac, or the Outlook/Word/Excel/PowerPoint suite. If you're even bothering to apply to a tech startup, we most certainly assume that you do.

7- Objectives

This seems to be a trend and almost every resume we see includes a section dedicated to the person's professional objectives. I'm sure that some old 'How to write a resume' guides talk about this, but I honestly make no sense of it.

If your potential employer wants to know where you see yourself in 5 years, they will ask you. Writing a paragraph about how you want to develop your professional skills, learn and grow within the company is a big waste of your time, and ours.

8- Your headshot

Unless you’re applying to a job that explicitly requests to see your face before a job interview (and I can’t think of many jobs that do), there’s absolutely no need to include your photo in your resume. And if you must, please get a professional photo. You have no idea the stuff we’ve seen. No, your ID photo is not good enough.

9- References

Let’s think about this for a minute. You are sending a resume to a total stranger and openly revealing the contact information of your previous employer, who is (supposedly) someone you respect, for them to receive an unexpected call or email asking about you. Does that sound professional?

References are important, but they come in at a much later stage in the job interview process.

For many of our hires, we've actually taken the time to visit the applicants Facebook or LinkedIn profiles and finding shared contacts instead. I definitely prefer calling somebody I know to get a reference, rather than a complete stranger.  

10- Not using LinkedIn

33% of the world’s workforce is on LinkedIn. It’s the largest professional social network on the planet. If you’re applying to a job in tech and you don’t have a LinkedIn profile that you can share, you’re pretty much living in the past century.

“Who is on LinkedIn? Pretty much anybody who matters.

— Scott Galloway


In summary,


Slidebean logo
© Copyright 2023 Slidebean Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Made with 💙️ in New York City and San Jose
Download our Template

This is a functional model you can use to create your own formulas and project your potential business growth. Instructions on how to use it are on the front page.

Financial Model Example
We've got it! Look for an email from
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Book a call with our sales team

In a hurry? Give us a call at