Bad Résumé Example: What To Avoid & How to Make Yours Great

A bad résumé kills your chances of getting the great job you want. 

Here’s what we’ll see in this article:

  1. A typical job description.
  2. A bad résumé.
  3. A great résumé.

I’ll point out the good and bad characteristics as we go.

Ready? Go.

How Is A Bad Résumé Different From a Great One?

There is a world of difference between bad and good résumés, but you must pay attention to the subtleties. 

A résumé might have a professional tone, good grammar, and no typos, but still have significant failings. 

Here are the primary factors that set bad résumés apart from great ones.

Clarity and Organization

Bad Résumé: Cluttered, lacks section headings, confusing information, inconsistent formatting, hiring managers can’t find relevant information.

Great Résumé: Clean professional layout, clear headings, bullet points for easy reading, logical flow of information, consistent ATS-friendly formatting.

Relevance to the Job

Bad Résumé: Generic and irrelevant information, content not tailored to the job description.

Great Résumé: Content is tailored to the specific job description, keywords from the job listing are used to pass ATS screening, and skills and education match the needs of the job description.

Quantification of Achievements

Bad Résumé: Duties and responsibilities lack context, and results are vague or not offered.

Great Résumé: Quantifies achievements with specific metrics and outcomes (e.g., increased sales by 20%, reduced customer complaints by 30%).

Professional Summary or Objective

Bad Résumé: Vague and unmeasurable objective, self-centered tone, unrelated information, doesn’t show what you bring to the position.

Great Résumé: Compelling professional summary highlights top qualifications and experience that aligns with job goals.

Skill Set Representation

Bad Résumé: Skills are basic or irrelevant, generic skillset, you don’t stand out from the other candidates.

Great Résumé: Shows hard and soft skills, all skills are relevant to the job, skills show outstanding results in practical scenarios.

Use of Language and Attention to Detail

Bad Résumé: Contains incorrect spelling, grammatical errors, or non-industry-standard jargon.

Great Résumé: No errors, typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or broken formatting.

Customization and Personal Branding

Bad Résumé: Uses a one-size-fits-all approach, sending the same résumé to every job without customization.

Great Résumé: Fully customized to the specific job description, use of personal branding if appropriate, shows how you will fit into the company culture.

Example: A Typical Job Description

Job Title: Digital Marketing Specialist

Location: Anytown, USA

Company Description: We are a leading digital marketing agency specializing in creating innovative campaigns for the tech industry. Our team comprises creative thinkers, data-driven strategists, and marketing experts committed to driving our clients' success.

Role Overview: As a Digital Marketing Specialist, you will develop and implement digital marketing strategies to increase online presence and improve marketing efforts. The ideal candidate will have a strong background in various digital marketing channels, excellent analytical skills, and the ability to deliver impactful marketing campaigns.


Develop, implement, and manage marketing campaigns that promote our clients' products and services.

Utilize a range of techniques, including paid search, SEO, PPC, and social media marketing.

Analyze market trends and recommend changes to marketing and business development strategies based on analysis and feedback.

Measure and report on the performance of marketing campaigns, gain insight and assess against goals.

Collaborate with internal teams to create landing pages and optimize the user experience.

Utilize strong analytical ability to evaluate end-to-end customer experience across multiple channels and customer touchpoints.


  • Bachelor's degree in Marketing, Business, or a related field.
  • Proven experience in digital marketing, including but not limited to SEO/SEM, email marketing, social media, and/or display advertising campaigns.
  • Strong analytical skills and data-driven thinking.
  • Up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in online marketing and measurement.
  • Experience in optimizing landing pages and user funnels.
  • Solid knowledge of website analytics tools (e.g., Google Analytics, NetInsight, Omniture, WebTrends).
  • Experience in setting up and optimizing Google AdWords campaigns.
  • Highly creative with experience identifying target audiences and devising digital campaigns that engage, inform, and motivate.

Example: A Bad résumé 

Jane Smith

456 Main Road, Anytown, USA 67890 | (555) 123-4567 | [email protected]


Experienced professional seeking to leverage extensive background in various roles to contribute to the success of a dynamic organization. Eager to bring strong administrative skills to a team in need of top-level support.


Office Administrator, XYZ Corporation, Anytown, USA | June 2015 - Present

Managed daily office operations and maintained office supplies, ensuring a smooth workflow.

Coordinated schedules and meetings for senior staff members.

Handled customer inquiries and complaints, improving customer service protocols.

Sales Associate, ABC Retail, Anytown, USA | March 2012 - May 2015

Assisted customers in finding products, leading to increased customer satisfaction.

Helped manage inventory and organize store displays.

Participated in team meetings and contributed to sales strategies.


Bachelor of Arts in English, University of Anytown | Graduated May 2011

Graduated with a 3.5 GPA.

Member of the English Honors Society.


Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite and Google Workspace.

Excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Strong organizational and time management abilities.


References are available upon request.

Key Résumé Shortcomings:

  • Objective too generic.
  • Lack of quantifiable achievements.
  • Missing relevance to job goals.
  • The Skills section is too broad.
  • Educational details not linked to the job description.
  • “References upon request” is outdated wording.

Example: A Great résumé

Jacob Martinez

123 Digital Drive, Tech City, Innovate State 54321 | (321) 987-6543 | [email protected]

Professional Summary

Dynamic and results-oriented Digital Marketing Specialist with over five years of experience developing successful digital marketing strategies, specializing in SEO, SEM, content marketing, and analytics. Proven track record of enhancing website traffic and boosting brand awareness through creative, data-driven campaigns. Seeking to leverage expertise in a challenging role at a leading digital marketing agency.

Professional Experience

Digital Marketing Coordinator, NextGen Innovations, Tech City, Innovate State | July 2018 - Present

Spearheaded digital marketing campaigns, increasing organic traffic by 40% and improving ROI by 20% through effective SEO and PPC management.

Utilized Google Analytics to enhance digital strategy, boosting conversion rates by 25%, and collaborated on social media strategies, resulting in a 50% increase in traffic.

SEO Specialist, Creative Solutions, Digital City, Online State | May 2015 - June 2018

Implemented SEO strategies, improving search rankings by over 70 positions and increasing organic search traffic by 35%.

Optimized website architecture and executed link-building, enhancing user engagement and doubling inbound links, significantly improving domain authority.


  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing, Digital Marketing Focus | State University, Innovate State
  • Graduated Magna Cum Laude, June 2015


  • Google Analytics Certified Professional
  • Google Ads Certification
  • HubSpot Content Marketing Certification
  • Skills
  • Expert in SEO/SEM strategies and tools
  • Proficient in Google Analytics, Google Ads, and other digital marketing software
  • Strong understanding of content management systems (CMS)
  • Excellent analytical skills and data-driven decision-making
  • Creative content creation and strategy development
  • Knowledgeable in the latest digital marketing trends and technologies
  • Effective communicator and collaborator across teams

Professional Memberships

  • Member, American Marketing Association (AMA)
  • Member, Digital Marketing Institute (DMI)

Why This Résumé Is Effective:

  1. Clear and aligned professional summary.
  2. Experience directly relates to the job, with specific responsibilities and achievements.
  3. Quantifiable achievements include metrics such as increases in traffic, ROI, and conversion rates.
  4. The education section is tailored to the job, showing a relevant degree and specific certifications.
  5. The skills listed are specific to digital marketing and include both technical and soft skills.
  6. Professional memberships demonstrate commitment.

Looking Forward

Recurring themes in this article are:

  • Tailoring each résumé to the specific job description,
  • Make all information relevant and specific to the job’s goals.
  • Use of keywords and ATS-friendly formatting.
  • No typos, grammatical errors, or spelling mistakes.
  • Keep a consistent and professional tone.

Whether you are applying for one, a few, or many jobs, it becomes difficult and tedious to consider all these recommendations.

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