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Resumes
Common Mistakes

Not Targeting Your Resume

Focus your resume toward the type of job you want.


Listing Vague Descriptions of Job Duties and Responsibilities

Quantify results and accomplishments, e.g.,  write "Redesigned accounts receivable process resulting in increased collections of 35%" —NOT—"Worked on accounts receivable improvements."


Not Using Concise Action Statements

Use "Designed new marketing campaign which increased sales by 25%."  Avoid "Responsible for designing new marketing campaign."  They gave you the responsibility, but what did you do?


Making the Resume Too Long

Most college students, including graduate students, and alumni should keep the resume to one page. Information can also be put in the cover letter. The exception is the curriculum vita (CV), which used for college teaching applications or, in many cases, research positions in the public or private sector.


Listing Degrees

Do not use abbreviations.  Spell out Ph.D., M.S., B.S., B.A. Spell them out properly, e.g., a Master of Science —NOT— a Masters of Science.  If very short of room, you may have to use abbreviations.

Note your specialization.

Include your undergraduate degree.

Community college degrees are rarely listed.  Since the credits transferred, they are University of Maryland credits.  Exceptions exist.  For example, you may have had important honors and activities, such as being president of your class to be included on the resume.  Thus, it would not be clear if you didn't include a previous college in the Education section.  Another example might be that you transferred from Harvard University or the Parsons School of Design.


Inconsistent use of # and $ Signs

If the number is under 10, write out the number, e.g., nine not 9

Use $ sign consistently.  For example, it is "Saved between $200,000 - $300,000 annually," not "Saved between $200,000 - 300,000 annually."


Incorrect Professional Organization Names

Make sure you have the correct name, use both the full association name and the acronym, for example, Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Do not state you are a member. It is implied by listing the organization


Inconsistent Date Formats

Summer 2002 instead of summer 2002 or Summer, 2002.

Do not switch from 4/00-8/02 to May 1999-April 2000.

If abbreviating months, use three-letter abbreviations with a period.

Do not list some years as 2001 and others '01.


Inconsistent Fonts and Font Sizes

Your name should be between 14 and 20 points.

The resume body should be anywhere between 9.5 and 12 point, but be consistent.

Keep your resume body to one size for the font and one easy-to-read font style.

If you must use more than one font size, do so consistently.


Improper Name Placement

Your name should always be on the top line in a larger font size than the main font and in bold.


Using Tiny Margins or Wide Margins

Set each margin to at least ½ inch but not more than two inches on each side.


Not Using Reverse Chronological Order to List Your Experiences

In other words, the most recent position backwards to the oldest.


Using Ampersands Improperly

Do not use an ampersand (&) unless it is an official part of the name (Johnson & Johnson)


Inconsistent Punctuation

Use all periods or no periods after items in a bulleted list of experience statements.

Use colons (:) or no colons after headings. 

Either - or - when hyphenating.

Use consistent and proper capitalization.

Avoid random "bold" punctuation.


Improper Apostrophe (') Usage

Its is a possessive pronoun and it's is the contraction for it is.

Use the plural vs. possessive correctly for acronyms.  M.A.s is the plural form of this abbreviation.  M.A.'s is the possessive form. Another example is CFOs (plural) vs. CFO's (possessive).

Use the plural possessive vs. singular possessive correctly for words.  An example is students' (plural possessive) vs. student's (singular possessive).


Using Hyphens Improperly

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