Mary Johnson

5 resume writing fails — and what to do instead

Blog Post created by Mary Johnson on Oct 10, 2017

Resume writing is one of those tasks most people hate about the job search process. That’s why entire companies have been built around taking that job off your hands.


But you don’t have to shell out a bunch of cash to create a standout, keyword-friendly, job-landing resume. You just need to know what pitfalls to avoid — and what to do instead.


Check out our tips below. Once you’ve got your resume in fighting shape, post it to Experience Energy, the only career site dedicated to women in energy globally. Companies use Experience Energy to find the top talent and build an inclusive workforce. For more information, click here.


  • Don’t: Include absolutely every job you’ve ever had. It’s unnecessary, and probably means you’ll have to type everything in 8-point font to make it fit. Trust us when we say, that’s not good for anyone.  
  • Do: Be strategic with what experience you include. A prospective employer wants to peruse your relevant experience, not a detailed account of how you have spent every month for the past two decades. Every job yields some valuable experience or lessons learned. But think long and hard about the story you want your resume to tell, and how each job you list supports that overall message. 


  • Don’t: Make your resume a list of job responsibilities. A red flag: Overuse of the phrase “responsible for.”
  • Do: Focus on actions and results. What did you do for the company? What did that action accomplish? And how did you make it happen? You need to answer all that, with results you can quantify. Avoid vague statements of impact, such as “dramatically increased” or “achieved exponential growth.” Put a number behind your impact, and it will speak volumes. This post from the Ellevate Network suggests the following format to replace responsibilities with action-oriented statements: Action verb > Quantifiable result > How you achieved it


  • Don’t: Ignore the importance of keywords. Technology plays a big role in the hiring process these days. You could be the foremost expert in a certain area, but if your resume isn’t built to appease algorithms, it will get lost in the mix.  
  • Do: Figure out the new rules of engagement and master them. Pepper your resume with the key phrases found in the job description and related job ads. But make sure you use them appropriately: Once the digital database flags your resume, a human will read through it. That means it’s still got to make sense to get you from resume review to interview.


  • Don’t: Have one resume for your entire job search process. It’s tempting to do the resume writing work once and call it a day, but your chances of landing an interview go way down when you do.
  • Do: Customize your resume for each job you apply for. As we mentioned above, scan through the job description for the standout keywords, and add those into your resume where appropriate. Also, different jobs will expect different strengths. Make sure your resume plays up the skills and experiences that will shoot your resume to the top of the pile for a given opportunity. Yes, it means more work on the front end. But no one said the job search process would be easy.


  • Don’t: Forget about format. Presentation matters, even on the page.
  • Do: Create a resume that is clean and easy to read. You don’t need to hire a graphic designer. And in fact, too many images can hurt your chances when companies are scanning for specific content. But make sure you don’t fill every inch of space on the page with text. Use headers and other elements to break up the content so it doesn’t overwhelm. There are myriad templates available online, and with a little tweaking, you can make them suit your specific needs.