5 Common Resume Mistakes Students Make and How to Avoid Them

Published: Oct 30, 2023

 Career Readiness       Education       Grad School       Resumes & Cover Letters       
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If you’re a student and don’t have much experience writing resumes, you’ll likely make a handful of common mistakes. The good news is once you understand what these mistakes are, it’s easy to avoid them. So, below is a list of the most common resume mistakes students make.

1. Using an unprofessional email address

One of the most common mistakes is including an unprofessional or silly email address. You might think that ilovekimk@gmail.com is great, or that your sillybilly02@yahoo.com address is hilarious, but the recruiter probably won’t agree. In fact, three in 10 resumes are disregarded by recruiters for having an unprofessional email address. That’s why it’s always best to set up a simple email address for job hunting if you don’t have one already. Stick with your name as best you can, or choose something closely related that still looks professional.

2. Creating a generic summary

Your “resume summary“ is located at the top of your application; it’s your chance to introduce yourself to the recruiter. Summaries should be brief paragraphs (around 150 to 200 words) that explain who you are, what you offer, and your career goals. The trouble is if you get your summary wrong, you could lose the recruiter’s attention right from the start. This is why it’s important to avoid generalized statements and not just state why you’d be good at any job. Generic applications won’t impress recruiters. Instead, tailor your summary for the specific position and company you’re applying to. Get as specific as you can.

3. Focusing on duties and not accomplishments

No matter whether you’re outlining hobbies, extracurricular activities, studies, or any work experience you have, it’s important that you don’t simply focus on your duties or responsibilities. Instead, you need to showcase your achievements within these positions. Highlighting your achievements shows how you’ve added value and what you’ve learned. This can help employers see how you can make a positive impact on their businesses.

4. Getting the format and layout wrong

You need your resume to be clear and concise, ensuring that you don’t get the format and layout wrong. You also need to make sure you use headings, sub-headings, and bullet points appropriately to set out the information.  This makes it easier to read as the recruiter scans through. In most cases, one A4 page will be enough for a student resume, though you may wish to extend this to two pages if you have tons of relevant experience. Whatever the case may be, just be careful to choose an easy-to-read font and not to make it too big so as to fill the space, or too small so that the page is crammed with text and hard to read.

5. Failing to proofread and spellcheck

Though this might be one of the most obvious resume-writing rules, too many students still make this mistake. Failing to proofread and spellcheck your resume can easily result in typos and grammatical errors, which make your application look unprofessional and sloppy. So, always proofread your resume several times before submitting. It’s a good idea to have someone else read it over this as well. But if you don’t have anyone there to read your application for you, there are many online grammatical tools that you can use instead. So, make sure to take advantage of them. They could just be the difference between you landing an interview (and ultimately getting the job) or not.

Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading CV builder and careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes career advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.