10 resume mistakes that close doors to a better career

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Is a resume critical? I never thought so. I was wrong

Till we launched cajobportal.com and resumes became a ‘bread and butter’ activity for us, I never realise how difficult life becomes for a recruiter as he/she meanders through a clutter of poorly drafted resumes that fail to leave a mark

When I conduct these resume building classes for my students, I show them this


This is essentially the Howrah Bridge, they respond instantaneously. But then, how does this connect with a resume??

The answer is that a resume, just like a bridge, takes you from where you are to where you want to go. From being a CA fresher in Kolkata to Associate-Statutory Audit at E&Y Bangalore, it is the resume that takes you through this journey. Especially, when you are situated in an overpopulated country like India, where there are dozens of people vying for anything that’s worth having

So it is time to fasten your seat belts and think about how you can transform your resume

Here are the most common pitfalls and how you can avoid them.

1) Career Objective

If you don’t have a well-structured career objective, just omit it

Adding copy paste content like this adds zero value, and actually destroys it

  • Seeking career enriching assignments in Taxation/Finance
  • To work in an environment that provides me with a spectrum of experience and exposure.

2) Global Gyaan

The person reading your resume is far more qualified than you are. Hence avoid this:

  • Well versed with modern accounting systems, formulation and implementation of policy & reporting requirements.
  • Endowed with a passion for winning as evinced through demonstrated excellence in the academic & extracurricular areas.

3) Typo errors

In this era, where we work in a global village, your communication skills can take you places.

Your resume needs to be grammatically perfect. If it isn’t, employers will read between the lines and draw not-so-flattering conclusions about you, like: “This person can’t write properly,”, or “This person may not be good enough to represent our brand”

It’s helpful to get a second set of eyes on your resume after you’ve reviewed it yourself.

4) No customisation

When you try to develop a one-size-fits-all resume to send to all employers, you almost always end up with something employers will simply toss in the recycle bin. Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them.

While the underlying content will invariably be the same, this bit of customization with go a long way in conveying that you’re highly interested in the particular job they’re offering.

Thus, it is important to read the job description and tailor your resume for the job. if you don’t, they think you don’t care enough about the job, and they won’t think it’s worth their time to meet with you.

5) Listing just duties, not achievements

It is very easy for your resume to get lost in the clutter of job responsibilities.  It is important that you write about instances that instantly catch your attention

Let us consider the way Rohan narrates his story. Wouldn’t you want to meet him?

  • Business Development Manager – India, Barry Callebaut (since January 2012)
  • Responsible for business development & annual base sales of 3200 MT.


  • Grew the distribution network to 70+ distributors and delivered 21% growth
  • Initiated and implemented the feasibility analysis for investments in cocoa in Cote d’Ivoire worth USD 35 million

6) Being too vague

You’ll never hit the bull’s-eye with a vague resume. Your laser-focused competitor candidate will knock you out of the game.

You need to put real, quantitative tasks and accomplishments on your resume.

Compare the resumes of two CA freshers

This is how Dhwani highlights her experience and leaves an instant impression

  • Lead Audit Member for Statutory, Tax and Group IFRS Audit of xxx- Managed Consolidation of all 4 Subsidiaries
  • Lead Executive on the Statutory Audit of XXX for the financial year March ’11 including complete planning and execution of audit.

Jaya, having done almost the same work, eventually misses the bus, because the description is just too generic and I really don’t care if it was Jaya or Himali or Kirti

  • Preparation of accounts and finalization of financial statement of various small and medium scale enterprises.
  • Conducted tax, statutory and internal audit of medium and small-sized companies and firms, HUFs & Trusts

Trust me; it is not just at the fresher level that the drafting matters.

See how Aditya’s resume stands in comparison to that of Yogesh. Whom would you want to meet?


  • Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly IFRS Reporting to the Paris Headquarters via Hyperion Consolidation Software.
  • Consolidation and Control of 4 plants and 5 green field projects of company and preparation of accounts as per Indian GAAP


  • Assisting to the Accounting, Reporting, Direct Taxation and Financial Mgmt. process of the Firm.
  • Formulating the MIS Reports, Cash & Fund Flow Statement, Balance Sheet, Audit Reports, Sales Invoices etc.

7)  Not inserting the right keywords

Remember that your resume is competing with thousands of other active job seekers. Since resumes are first fetched electronically from the database, the chances are very high that your resume may not meet the human eye in the first place

Step 1: Create your keyword list

Look at t job descriptions for the position you’re seeking and note the “must haves.”  From this list, identify the qualifications that you possess

A sample could be as follows

Strategy Consulting • CXO Relationship Management • Vendor Evaluation • Banking Technology • Balanced Scorecard

Step 2: Add a Summary of Skills to Your Resume

Add a Skills Summary section at the top of your resume.

Here’s an example

Summary of Skills

  • Results/metrics-oriented, dynamic professional with 14.5 years of experience in IT
  • Successful track-record of significant achievements providing strategic business solutions and building long- term client and vendor relationship

8) Being Too Wordy

If you have a 15-20 year career in corporate finance and are the function lead in your company, it makes sense that your resume is two or three pages. For a fresher or lateral up to say 6-7 years of experience, I guess a page or maximum of two is enough

You need to cull words judiciously, because there needs to be some white space on the page too.

9) Hobbies

Look at how Sagar has enlisted his hobbies.

  • Travelling a lot, lot and lot.
  • Reading books on Economics, keeping track of currency rates, commodity prices and indices across the world.

What really does travelling a lot, lot and lot mean?

I hope that when he is so specific, he is willing to be quizzed for 15 minutes about currency rates, commodity prices and indices. It’s a double-edged sword. if you can ace these questions, the interviewer is all yours. If you goof up, it’s over

10) Contact Details

We often chance across these email Ids of candidates

These can be quite a disaster. Get a more formal email ID please

I once mentored a student whose resume seemed incredibly strong, but he wasn’t getting any calls from employers. So one day, I jokingly asked him if the phone number on his resume was correct. It wasn’t.  This can happen when you shift cities or operators and forget to update your numbers


The adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is never truer than when you submit your resume. All the best

(1231 words)


About the author

Sonia Singal is a CA and MS-Finance. After a stint with the risk consulting practice of Deloitte, she has launched cajobportal.com- India’s first recruitment website exclusively for Chartered Accountants. She can be reached at [email protected]