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The biggest mistake on your resume (and how to fix it)

Yesterday, I explained how your resume probably won’t get seen by an actual human.

Today, I want to talk about the biggest mistake most people make on their resumes, and how to fix it. Let’s dig in!

The “Objective” section is pointless

There’s a good chance that you have an “Objective” section up at the top of your resume.

It probably says something like this…

Seeking a role as a front-end developer where I can utilize my talents and skills to fulfill the goals of the organization.

This is a bunch of words that doesn’t really say much of anything. It basically boils down to, “I’m looking for whatever job you have available.”

And while that may be true, it won’t help you get your resume out of ATS hell or inspire someone who looks at it to keep reading.

So how can we fix it?

Replace your objective with a “Summary of Qualifications”

A Summary of Qualifications is a short blurb that summarizes why you’re such a kick-ass developer.

Ideally, it’s one or two sentences followed by a short bulleted list of skills. Here’s an example…

A front-end developer specializing in React, front-end UI, and web performance. Skills and experience include:

  • HTML
  • CSS & Sass/SCSS
  • Web Accessibility
  • JavaScript, Vue & React
  • 11ty, Hugo & Static Site Generators
  • Figma, Sketch, & Design Tools
  • Gulp, NPM & Build Tools

A Summary of Qualifications shows recruiters why they should keep reading past the seven second mark.

Each skill or area of expertise you point out should be supported later in the resume.

Customize your summary to the job you’re applying for

Yesterday, I wrote…

An Applicant Tracking System (or ATS) is a piece of HR software that collects and tracks resumes.

It’s most powerful feature: automatically filtering resumes. Recruiters can provide keywords for each role, and the ATS scans resumes for those keywords and tries to determine how good of a match for the job the person is.

Those keywords? They often come directly from the job description.

The Summary of Qualifications on your resume should change with every job you apply for. Adjust your specialties and list of skills and experiences to match the ones listed in the job description.

For example, the example above was based on this real job description I found on

This Software Engineer will be primarily focused on building UI using ReactJS or Angular. The ideal candidate for this position will have worked on high-performing web applications with an eye towards enhancing performance. This role will be onsite working in a hybrid model.

My Summary highlights my experience with state-based UI, JavaScript libraries, and web performance.

Don’t lie, of course! But you’re likely good at a lot of things. Your Summary should highlight the overlap between the things you’re good at and what the job is looking for.

That increases the likelihood that the ATS will send your resume along to the recruiter, and gives the recruiter a good reason to keep reading.

What next?

Resumes are hard.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at some changes you can make to the rest of your resume to make it more likely you’ll get called in for that interview.