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5 Common Resume Mistakes

5 Common Resume Mistakes

The Pietrack Press

As an executive recruiter, I have access to many resumes.  Most of the resumes I see are very well done, yet some can use some slight tweaking.  I want to share with you some common resume mistakes that I see frequently, so that your resume is as strong as possible.

White Space

One glaring mistake I see on some resumes is that they have too much white space.  My recommendation is not to get too “tab happy” to the point where the bullets of your current position are near the middle of the page.  Also, I would recommend not using resume builders that come standard on your computer, as they are notorious for creating tons of white space.

On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want to jam pack a twelve year career on one page with margins that are 1/16th of an inch.  This is not enough white space.  If I may, allow me to dispel a myth.  Your resume doesn’t need to fit on one page like we were taught in school.


Always include the months and years you worked at a company.  An obvious red flag is a resume that doesn’t have the months included.  The main reason is that if your resume states “2004-2005,” that could be 24 months or two months.  If you worked for that company from January 2004 to December of 2005, that is roughly 24 months.  If you worked there from December of 2004 to January of 2005, that is roughly two months.  So, whenever a candidate doesn’t have the months on their resume, it’s assumed they are hiding a short stint or a gap in employment.


One of the keys to creating a great resume is knowing your audience and tailoring your resume accordingly.   Each resume you send out should be tailored for the opportunity in which you are pursuing.  The “OBJECTIVE” should be specific to the job.  If it’s a role where the education is paramount, then list your education before your experience.  If education is not a crucial component to the position, then list the experience first.  If it’s a position where specific skills are needed then a “SKILLS” section might be appropriate at the beginning.

If you’re going to list skills and write a brief summary of yourself, please realize this should not take more than half a page.  I’ve actually seen resumes where the candidate’s experience doesn’t start until page two.  I think people are receiving misleading advice from resume writers and career coaches that this is okay, and I would strongly suggest otherwise.


I think it is interesting how companies like to rename what the industry commonly calls a function.  If you happen to be employed by a company that titles your position atypically to the industry, here is my advice to you.  On your resume, list the title that your company created then make a parenthetical statement that states what the industry would title you.  Here’s an example: “Title: Regional Medical Research Scientist (Commonly Known as a Medical Science Liaison).”

The reason I give this advice is often times your resume is screened by people who are not industry experts, and they may not know all the different titles that certain functions are called.  I see this a lot with sales people who have “manager” or “director” in their title, when really they are an individual contributor sales person.  Here’s an example on how to clear up the confusion: “Title: Regional Sales Manager (Individual Contributor).”


Some people like to describe the duties they carried out at a company in bullet point form, others prefer a paragraph.  My personal preference is bullet points, but regardless of what you chose, stick with that choice throughout your resume—be consistent.  Occasionally, I will see a resume where for one job they will use bullet points, and the next they will use a paragraph.

The same can be said about the tense that is used in a resume.  My recommendation is to keep everything in past tense.  If you want to leave your current position in present tense, that is fine, but that creates a lot of editing throughout your career.   If you happen to miss editing one bullet point, it can really weaken your resume.   Also, stay consistent with how you use dates.  If you are going to use “Jan.” for one job, don’t use “January” or “1-“ for the next one.

I hope that by calling to attention these common mistakes you will be benefitted by avoiding them.  As always, I’d welcome your feedback and thoughts on the topic.  In the meantime, I wish you great success in advancing your career.


Michael Pietrack

About the Author: Michael Pietrack is a leading executive recruiter in a the Pharmaceutical Industry and arguably the top recruiter in the Medical Affairs space. His specific expertise is recruiting in Field Medical Affairs placing Medical Science Liaisons, and therefore, he has been dubbed “The MSL Recruiter” (www.TheMSLRecruiter.com).

What is TMAC Direct?: TMAC Direct is an executive search agency that serves the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries. This boutique firm fills critical staffing needs on a retained, partially retained, or contingency basis. TMAC Direct is the direct-hire recruiting division of The Medical Affairs Company, commonly known as TMAC. Together TMAC and TMAC Direct, provide an unmatched staffing service in the Medical Technology arena, whether the hiring needs are on a permanent placement or outsourcing basis.

Keywords: MSL, Medical Science Liaison, Medical Affairs, Medical Director, Recruiter, Staffing, Search Firm, Executive Search, Headhunter, Recruiting, Recruitment, Consultant, Consulting, Agency, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, MSLs, Medical Science Liaisons, Field-Medical, GMA, Liaison, RML, Firm, Consultancy, TheMSLRecruiter, TMAC, TMAC Direct, The Medical Affairs Company, Life Science, Medical Technology, HEOR, Health Economics, Outcomes Research, Integrated Delivery Network, Integrated Delivery System, PBM, Tip, Tips, Advice, Best Practice, Best Practices, Trend, Trends, Hiring, Interviewing, Interview, Hire


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