Five Common Resume Mistakes

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Steve was discouraged because he hadn’t received any interviews from the dozens of applications he had submitted.  To help him in the job search process, a colleague in the athletics department suggested two books Steve should read to brush up on his job search skills and techniques.  As Steve was reading through these materials, he saw a topic that caught his eye entitled “Five Common Resume Mistakes.”  The article suggested that many of the errors people make on their resume includes one of the following five broad mistakes:

Not using the proper format – A resume is read from top of the page down the left margin.  Information you want the reader to see needs to be included in this area.  A resume needs plenty of white space so the information jumps out at the reader.  Be strategic on the use of bold, underlining, and italicized words.  Don’t use too much of these specialized formatting techniques or they will lose their effect and your resume will look awful.  The font type and size needs to be legible – too many people use fonts sizes that are too small.  Also, keep in mind that bulleted information is much easier to read than information written in paragraph form.  Finally, remember that your resume is a sales tool.  The reader will initially scan a resume in 10-15 seconds and the format is critical in order to show off your skills and accomplishments.

Inappropriate length – Too many people suggest that job hunters should limit their resume to one page.  I disagree with this advice.  Instead, a resume should be long enough to sell you.  It should effectively highlight your skills and accomplishments.  A resume that is limited to one page makes you appear too inexperienced and that you don’t have anything to offer the employer.   However, don’t make stuff up just so you can extend the length of your resume.  Conversely, don’t make your resume too long.  Try to limit your resume to no more than 3-4 pages.  Don’t confuse your resume with a curriculum vita.  A CV is used when you apply for a faculty position at a college or university.  It is not appropriate to use a CV when applying for non-faculty positions.

Contact Information – Make sure you use an e-mail address or phone number that you check on a regular basis.  Don’t use contact information that you don’t check on a daily basis or consistently when you’re out of the office or on vacation.

Sending a resume in the wrong format – While it is important to apply for jobs in a timely manner, it’s not a race.  The first resume to arrive doesn’t win the job.  Therefore, take your time and make sure your resume is perfect before sending it to the employer.  In most cases it is best to mail the resume to the employer.  This is so you can control the way it appears when the employer receives it.  In other words you can control the way it looks and you can control the type of paper it is printed on.  If you’re sending it electronically, it is best to send it in a pdf file if you can.  This is because a pdf file is a picture and it prints out the way it appeared when you saved the document.  Too many times a document will change from how it looks on your computer and how it appears on somebody else’s computer.  You can’t take chances on the way your resume looks and you need to be able to control its appearance as much as possible. 

Misspelled words – Again, take your time and produce an error-free resume.  It might not be important to be the first applicant, but it is important that your resume is perfect.  Most resumes that include a typo or misspelled words will be eliminated immediately.  Competition for jobs is just too keen and employers have too many applicants who present themselves in a professional manner

Quite often when a job opens up within a college athletic department there will be more than 100 or even 200 applicants.  With so many applicants, you need to make sure your resume is perfect and error-free.  The key to getting the job is knowing the basic fundamental skills that are associated with each stage of the job search process and that you effectively perform each of these skills to the best of your ability.  In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS! 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his new book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at


2 thoughts on “Five Common Resume Mistakes

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