Make us your home page
10 Tips | By Laura T. Coffey

10 Tips: Avoid resume blunders

These are dark days for many American workers. Layoffs are mounting — 533,000 people lost their jobs in November alone — and the bloodletting hasn't stopped yet. In times like these, it's more important than ever to have a sparkling, flattering resume at the ready. The only way to accomplish that is to avoid shockingly common resume blunders. Consider these tips.

1Stress your successes. Rather than listing the basic job duties you've performed in a ho-hum way, emphasize your accomplishments. Ask yourself these sorts of questions: Did you shine in certain ways in your last job or jobs? Did you make money for the company or save it money? What noteworthy results can you cite? Did you receive awards or promotions?

2Steer clear of vague objective statements. Job-search Web site shares this as an example of an essentially meaningless objective: "A challenging position enabling me to contribute to organizational goals while offering an opportunity for growth and advancement." Instead of using something like this, prepare a clear and specific objective for each employer you approach.

3If you truly need more space, use it. The pressure to keep your resume to one page can get to be a little ridiculous at a certain point in your life, and the struggle may not be necessary, especially if you have years of experience in your field. Hiring managers say they don't want you to omit important accomplishments for the sake of brevity. At the same time, they also don't want to endure long, rambling resumes full of irrelevant details.

4Omit certain details for sure. Avoid including any of these: the names of your spouse and children; your age, height or weight; detailed lists of hobbies or short courses you've taken, unless they're relevant to the position you're seeking; salary history; reasons for leaving past jobs; and any reference to health.

5Use strong verbs. Don't refer to yourself with the terms "I" and "me"; instead, start each resume entry with strong verbs and action phrases, such as, "Managed a team of 80," "Saved the company $1-million."

6Be a perfectionist about spelling and grammar. Run your resume through a grammar and spell-check on the computer, but don't stop there. Proofread your resume again and again, and ask people you trust to read it. Ask your proofreader friends to point out grammar and spelling errors, sentences that are unclear, details that seem irrelevant and information that is missing.

7Remember to include key words. Key words are relevant job titles, responsibilities, skills and industry-specific terms, and they should be sprinkled throughout your resume. If you're applying for an advertised position, take note of the desired skills and characteristics mentioned in the ad and then incorporate the same or similar words and key phrases into your resume and cover letter.

8Don't reference your references. Does your resume have that "References available upon request" phrase? Delete it; hiring managers know you'll give them references if they request them. Do this: Give your references a heads up that they may be contacted, and send them a copy of your resume so they'll be up to date on your accomplishments.

9Do just so. Submit your materials exactly how the employer wants to see them. If a company specifies it only accepts hard copies of resumes, don't e-mail it. If e-mail is preferred but attachments are not, don't send attachments.

10Pay special attention to your cover letter. No matter how flawless your resume is, it will all be for naught unless you include a well-written cover letter. If hard copies of your resume and cover letter are called for, send a polished package. Use high-quality white or off-white paper, and choose a professional-looking, non-decorative font. Never fold your resume. Address your cover letter to a specific individual if you can, and don't forget to sign it.

Laura T. Coffey can be reached at [email protected]

Sources: (; (; National Association of Colleges and Employers (

10 Tips: Avoid resume blunders 12/20/08 [Last modified: Saturday, December 20, 2008 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  2. New York town approves Legoland proposal


    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  3. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate


    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Coming soon at two Tampa Bay area hospitals: a cancer treatment that could replace chemo


    A new cancer treatment that could eventually replace chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants — along with their debilitating side effects — soon will be offered at two of Tampa Bay's top-tier hospitals.

    Dr. Frederick Locke at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa is a principal investigator for an experimental therapy that retrains white blood cells in the body's immune system to fight cancer cells. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved these so-called "CAR-T" treatments for adults this month. In trials, 82 percent of cases responded well to the treatment, and 44 percent are still in remission at least eight months later, Locke said. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Regulator blasts Wells Fargo for deceptive auto insurance program


    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, 2017]