Search form

Mind Your Business: Top Five Résumé Writing Mistakes

In this month's "Mind Your Business," Count Vladimir (aka Mark Simon) takes a bite out of the topic of rum and the top five mistakes that make yours suck.


Velcome. Velcome. I can help you with your job search. Having hired many assistants over the years (most of mine keep dropping dead), I haf noticed what vorks on résumés.

One thing I haf noticed is that most résumés suck... and I know a thing or two about sucking. If you want to get a job faster, stop writing your résumé according to old standards that never worked.

Don't worry. I'm not going to leave you in the dark. Sink your fangs into these stories and see if they sound familiar.

Lillian sat down to write her résumé again. Graduation was only two weeks away and she was ready to get a paying job. Even though she knew that she had excellent communication skills and that she was a team player, it didn't feel right to use these phrases when she knew that employers read most of the same things on every one's résumé. How can she present her qualifications and training without sounding trite or boastful?

Dan knew that being a freelancer meant that there would be slow times, but the current slow time was turning into an eternity and he needed to get work fast. The art director looked at his résumé for only a few moments and then shook her head no as she handed it back to him. She said, "Clearly you have some experience at a lot of things, but I can't figure out from your résumé what you do. I really need some one who specializes in digital illustration." Why can't people figure out vhat he does from his résumé?

Jennifer was ready to work again after staying at home with her daughter, Haley, for the first three and a half years of her life. Before Haley, Jennifer was moving up rapidly in her animation career. Now Jennifer thought she needed to start over again, but she was afraid that the three and half year gap in her career would keep her from getting any good jobs. How can she be honest on her résumé and not have the gap hurt her?

These are all true stories. Few people truly enjoy writing their own résumé. Some people are uncomfortable writing anything about themselves. Others don't know what to put or they're unsure about the format. Still others use word processing templates or do it the way they were taught in school and the results are disastrous. You can have a résumé that gets you an interview if you just avoid biting into the Top Five Résumé Writing Mistakes.

Top Five Résumé Writing Mistakes

No job title at the top of the résumé.

Too much irrelevant information.

Presentation of work experience does not show qualifications effectively.

Dates create an unfavorable impression.

Objective statement states what you want from the company not what how you can advance the company's goals.

If you avoid the top five mistakes, of the 42 listed in my book, Your Resume Sucks!, you will make the employer very happy because you've made his job easier. Most employers get hundreds of résumés for one job opening and each one gets a couple of glances before it's sorted into one of three places: Trash, Maybe Pile or the Interview Pile.

Your Resume Sucks!

Think of it this way: you are the product, the résumé is the commercial and the employer is the consumer. Your résumé has a few seconds to capture the employer's attention and sell him on you.

The résumés that make it into the Interview Pile are those that clearly state the job for which an applicant is applying; show that the applicant is qualified; and is accompanied by a well-written cover letter that shows the applicant has researched the company and states how he/she can further the company goals. Don't be left in the dark when you approach a company for a job... do the research.

Keep in mind that your job search is not about you and your goals, but about how you can help a company or a project. Keep this attitude through all phases of the hiring process and even on the job and you will have a successful career.

The revised résumés and cover letters for Lillian, Dan and Jennifer got them all interviews and job offers within two months or less. Each résumé and cover letter was customized for every job to which they applied.

Jennifer's résumé portrayed her as the skilled motivated worker she is and avoided the gaps in her work experience so they never worked against her.

Dan got two different résumés with each one supporting a specific job title. Now clients no longer wonder what Dan does or question his qualifications. He feels more confident when he applies for jobs.

Lillian saw the light and got a job offer within an hour after printing out her new résumé. When she interviewed for a production assistant job, the producer looked over her résumé and said, "This résumé is terrific. It tells me everything I need to know. When can you start?"

Don't let unemployment drive you batty. Spread some holy water on your résumé and leave the sucking to me!

Your Resume Sucks! is owned by Jeanne and Mark Simon. The company provides custom résumé and cover letter writing services as well as offering career-enhancing books and DVDs available at their web site. There are also production forms, budgets, and articles available for free! Mark may be reached at

Mark Simon is an award-winning animation producer, storyboard artist and lecturer who is also the author of books for artists such as Facial Expressions: A Visual Reference for Artists, Producing Independent 2D Character Animation, the new Storyboards: Motion In Art and Your Resume Sucks!