7+ Worst Resumes: Examples Section-by-Section

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We’ve all heard the warnings, “don’t make your resume too long,” “avoid generic terms,” and “make sure you tailor the resume to the specific job posting.”  But what are the WORST mistakes you can make?

We’ve scoured dozens of articles from some of the top job and career experts in the world to uncover what is considered “worst practice” and what seemingly innocent mistakes could cost you the job.

Resume objective Worst vs. Great Examples

Every single resource we read said the same thing.  When writing your resume, “be specific.”  As Liz Ryan points out in an article for Forbes, we can all say we work well with others and have excellent communication skills, no big deal.

But where is the proof?  Be specific.  Instead of writing “works well with others,” try something like “Worked as part of a fast-paced team required to make split-second decisions to avoid setbacks and cost overages for clients.”

In place of “great team player,” write something like “Worked on part of a multidisciplinary team to create a cohesive product.  Took constructive criticism from management and used it to refocus goals.”

Employers see the same language over and over again, so provide them with something different to look at.  

As Ryan points out in the article,  go through your resume, and look for what she refers to as “Zombie Phrases.”  These are most likely to show up in your objective and skills section.

Worst Sample Objective

5+ years in sales with a proven record of meeting sales goals.  Worked as part of a sales team to meet quotas and created sales reports monthly.  Hard-working and excellent communication.

Great Sample Objective

Energetic and friendly sales representative with over five years of experience exceeding sales goals.  In the last four-quarters, personal sales averaged 11.6% over the goal per quarter.  Listened to clients to assess their needs and wants in order to recommend the best product for them.  Brainstormed with the sales team on techniques, best-practice, and struggles.

Resume skills Worst vs. Great Examples

Including obvious and common skills was another warning from top career experts.  

In an article from Business News Daily, they recommend avoiding mentioning skills such as Excel and PowerPoint and opting to include modern tools such as Adobe Suite or Google Analytics. 

One exception could be if the job post explicitly mentions a tool; even if it is commonplace if mentioned in the job posting, go ahead and include it.  

At the same time, do not just copy and paste the job posting skills and include them on your resume.  Much like the objective statement, find a way to personalize them or point out specifics related to the skill. 

Lastly, a tip we saw repeatedly was DO NOT include your personal hobbies or interests unless they directly relate to the job posting.

For example, if you are applying for a teaching position and the post mentions they are interested in any special skills you may have, such as music, art or sports, etc. 

While hobbies and personal interests may come up during the interview as part of the “getting to know you and small talk,” there is no reason to mention them on a resume as they will likely only serve as a distraction.

The bottom line is, think of skills that could set you apart.

Worst Sample Skills

Filing and record-keeping | Communication skills | Microsoft Word | Team-Player | Excellent writing skills 

Best Sample Skills

G Suite, Keynote, Slack & Grammarly | Fluent in Spanish | Ability to delegate | 65 wpm | Manage $20k+ projects | Listen to and empathize with customers

Worst & Best ways to write work experience

Just as every section of the resume has best and worst practices, so does listing your work experience.  In fact, incorrectly listing your work experience is one of the biggest reasons resumes are set aside.

This is another area where specifics help.  Be detailed about what your role and job expectations were. 

Number one is to list your work experience chronologically backward, meaning your most recent job first.  

The ideal resume is 1 page, single-sided, so if you have been working for over twenty years and have had six jobs, they may not all fit.  Stick with the most recent as those are likely the most applicable.

Another big mistake we discovered is not explaining a lapse in work.  

For example, I moved to Chicago from Washington, D.C.  Because of moving, finding a home, settling in, and not having immediate childcare for my children, I have a gap in my resume of about two months.  

You may have a gap if your company merged or downsized, and you left or were given a temporary severance package.  

The third and biggest mistake with work experience is lying.  Do not lie or embellish.  

If you worked for Coca-Cola as an accountant, do elaborate and say you were head of accounting.  The person you are interviewing might just know someone over there and give them a call.  Not to mention, it’s dishonest.  

Vault.com lists their ten biggest mistakes on a  resume, and lying is a part of that list.  

Worst Sample Work Experience

Jenny’s Preschool

Teacher, 2016-2020

Cared for children by feeding, changing diapers, and supervising them.  Communicated with parents about each child’s day and followed lesson plans.

  • Worked as part of a team
  • Designed crafts & art projects
  • Followed sanitation rules
  • Supportive of children

Little Learners

Aide, 2010-2013

Assisted the teacher in daily tasks of caring for children.  I spoke with parents daily and played with children.  Helped to keep the room clean and led activities when needed. 

  • Read books and sang songs
  • Changed diapers following protocol
  • Attended staff meetings
  • Followed directions of lead teachers

Best Sample Work Experience

Jenny’s Preschool

Lead Teacher, 2016-2020

Taught children in a combined toddler and two-year-old room, taking care of their daily needs and guiding them through developmentally appropriate activities.  Engaged in daily communication with parents and sent home daily electronic reports, including details of the day. 

  • Worked with an assistant and aide and delegated tasks as needed
  • Used developmental best practices to design open-art projects
  • Followed company and state sanitation guidelines for diapering, washing hands, and cleaning
  • Supported children’s learning with developmentally appropriate activities 

Little Learners

Aide, 2010-2013

Carried out pre-planned lesson plans adding a personal touch and adapting as needed for the children’s needs and skill levels.

  • Engaged children in interactive read-alouds, fingerplays, and songs
  • Followed strict protocols to change diapers and sanitize safely
  • Participated in continuing education and education enrichment 
  • Worked closely with the lead teacher to understand child development

Worst & Best education examples

After all these examples of best and worst, there is finally some good news!  There is not too much you can do wrong when it comes to listing your education.  It’s pretty straightforward.

Things to watch out for are adding extracurricular activities, clubs, etc. that have no bearing on your job search.  If you seek work as an accountant, they don’t need to know you were in the knitting club.

On the flip side, if you are interviewing to be a public speaker or presenter, mentioning your years in the drama club could benefit.  

Again, do not embellish or add things you did not do or study.

Worst Education Example

St. Paul College

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, 2004-2008

  • Hockey Captain
  • Member Alpha Gamma Rho
  • Performed in 3 drama productions

Best Education Example

St. Paul College

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, 2004-2008

  • Minor in Communications
  • Grand President’s Award, Alpha Gamma Rho, 2008

Courses 

Specific courses only need to be included if they are relevant to the position; this goes for any resume.  If it has no benefit to you listing it, then don’t do it!

If you are going to list courses, list them in bullet points, and try to stick to a maximum of five, it is not overcrowded with information. 

Sample Courses

  • Accounting I & II
  • Introduction to Human Resources

Certifications 

Certifications fall under the same rules as courses.  If you have them and they apply, then include them on your resume.  

When creating a top-notch resume, your goal is to make it straightforward and easy for the recruiting manager or HR representative to read and find the necessary information.  

One of the biggest mistakes mentioned throughout our research was overstuffing your resume.  You need to leave adequate white space, so the reader’s eyes have somewhere to rest.  

Sample Certifications

  • AHA CPR, exp. 3/2022
  • Microsoft 365 Fundamentals Certification

Complete worst & best resume samples

Below we will look at an actual job posting for a reasonably typical job, a sales manager.  After the posting will be a worst practice and best practice resume sample for the same job posting.

Keep in mind, while we are only showcasing one type of job in this article, these tips and guidelines can be applied across the board to any position. 

Worst resume sample

Objective

10+ years in sales establishing and meeting quotas.  Managed a team of six-sales reps and conducted individual and team reviews.  Received positive feedback from clients.

Skills

Write reports | Microsoft Word & Excel | Team Leadership | Communication | Delegation | Create Sales Goals

Work Experience

USHA

Sales Manager, 2000 – 2010

Assisted small business owners in obtaining business and benefit solutions.  Helped companies select viable plans for their financial needs. 

  • Responsive to customer needs
  • Worked in a professional manner
  • Provided support as businesses made selections
  • Worked as part of a team

R&L Staffing

Customer Sales, 1996-2000

Assisted customers and answered questions on products.  Handled customer complaints and multi-tasked throughout the day.  I kept detailed reports and records based on customer interactions.

  • Prioritize tasks
  • Troubleshot customer issues
  • Friendly and professional demeanor
  • Provided customers with information

Certifications 

  • Sales Growth

Education

Temple University

Bachelor of Arts in Marketing  1992-1996

  • Member of Tennis Team
  • Technology Club

Best resume sample

Objective

10+ years working in a dynamic sales environment overseeing a diverse team of sales representatives.  Led my team to perform above our quota for five of the last six quarters, and customers responded to our “people-first” sales method.  Seeking a position where I can branch out and extend my sales base and build strong relationships with clients.

Skills

Oracle CRM | Microsoft Dynamic 365 | SalesForce | Delegate multiple tasks | Personalized employee reviews| Listen to and empathize with customers | Adjust and define sales goals quarterly

Work Experience

USHA

Sales Manager, 2000 – 2010

Worked directly with local small and family-owned businesses to navigate their benefit options and provide ultimate support throughout their purchase experience.  Provided viable and realistic choices and brought on several long term clients.  

  • Created detailed outlines and spreadsheets of options for clients
  • Maintained a professional but personal relationship with clients
  • Readily available to answer client questions and concerns
  • Collaborated with the sales team to achieve the best outcomes

R&L Staffing

Customer Sales, 1996-2000

Assisted customers step-by-step through the sales process by answering questions and providing pertinent information. Avidly worked through customer issues to reach the desired outcome.  Maintained detailed records of interactions for reference purposes and customer support.

  • Prioritized goals and checklists daily
  • Used customer input and knowledge of products to solve issues
  • Welcomed each client assigned to me and built relationships
  • Outlined all product specifications, pros, and cons with customers

Certifications 

  • Sales Growth Certification, Cornell University

Education

Temple University

Bachelor of Arts in Marketing  1992-1996

  • Minor in World History
  • President of Future Business Leaders of America – Phi Beta Lambda 1994-1996

Key Takeaways

Other notes from experts included thoroughly proofreading your document to check for spelling and grammatical errors as well as inconsistent information.

We read that 70% of resumes are tossed aside because of inconsistent information and incorrect contact information.

  • Be specific and avoid fluff 
  • Don’t lie or elaborate 
  • Make sure there is white space – don’t pack in too much information 

Tips from Experts

“You don’t need to label this 2-3 inch deep section “Profile” or “Skills,” but it’s comprised of 3-4 bulleted sentences that develop your essential skills and abilities relevant to the job you’re seeking right now. It is not a rehash of your job history or education.”  – Steven Provenzano, CPRW/CEIP and author of 9 resume books

“No one creates a perfect resume on their first try. Writing a perfect resume is a messy process, but the easiest way to start is by simply getting in the right mindset and putting pen to paper.” –Matthew T. Cross, The Resume Design Book: How to Write a Resume in College & Influence Employers to Hire You

“You might not think to look to your annual review for resume material, but checking out the positive feedback you’ve received in years past can help you identify your most noteworthy accomplishments and best work attributes — two things that should definitely be highlighted on your resume. – Julia Malacoff, Content Writer for Glassdoor

Conclusion

Ultimately it is up to you what you decide to put on your resume.  You know your specific field best and what may catch a recruiter’s eye, but we hope these tips from experts on resume creation will help clear some of the fog.

When it is time to re-do your resume, keep these tips and tricks in mind, and yours will hopefully be in the 30% keep pile and eventually land you the job!

Methodology

In addition to our own expertise as professional resume consultants, for every resume guide we write, we curate dozens of recent job postings and resumes to make sure all our recommendations align with current trends for each specific industry and career path. Learn more about our methodology here. 

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