Goddam it! by wokka.In several of my classes this semester, public relations  students are writing resumes and cover letters as one of their assignments. I tend to see the same errors over and over again.

Here are some of the common errors I find:

Appearance / Overall

  • Having any typos, misspelled words or grammatical errors (some employers will discard your resume if any mistakes are apparent)
  • Not using same header for all cover letter, resume & reference page
  • Failing to include your custom LinkedIn URL
  • Using different fonts for no apparent reason

Cover Letters

  • Focusing on yourself, not the needs of the potential employer
  • Too many self-focused statements; starting too many sentences with “I”
  • Forgetting to sign letter (scan your signature to place into electronic cover letters)
  • Not stating what you can do for the employer in clear terms.
  • Not including an enclosure line (such as: Enclosures: Resume & Reference Page)


  • Longer than one page (it’s possible to “earn” more pages once you’re established in your career)
  • Not including strong action-verbs (too many “to be” verbs)
  • Providing too few keywords related to the PR field
  • Including “responsibilites/duties included”
  • Writing in first person (“I”)
  • Writing in complete sentences, rather than powerful, short phrases
  • Burying your education at the end of the resume
  • Not mentioning your education at your current university
  • Not describing your major and anticipated graduation date
  • Including high school, even though there are no relevant honors/awards/achievements
  • A low (below 3.0) GPA is listed
  • Extremely short (you can list relevant coursework if you have little related work experience)
  • Leaving to unclear to the potential employer exactly what you accomplished in your work history
  • Including too much information about the employer (all you need it company name, city & state — no need for full address, supervisor name, etc.)
  • Dates listed in chronological, not reverse chronological, order (you should list most recent information first in each section)
  • References listed directly on resume itself (they should be on a separate page)

Reference Page

  • Not using same header as resume & cover letter
  • Not including all necessary information (name, company name, title, full mailing address, phone number & e-mail address)
  • Fewer than three references listed
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