English Majors: Avoid Making These 3 Common Mistakes on Your Resume

For most people I know, there is a great deal of dread and anxiety around creating or updating a resume. What should I include? How long should it be? What should it look like? And really, it’s not an easy answer—there is no clear-cut way to create a resume. In my experience, they’re all a little different.

But in going over hundreds of English majors’ resumes —whether it’s for Dear English Major or my writing business—I’ve noticed a few mistakes that are made over and over again.

Here are the 3 most common mistakes English majors make on resumes:

Mistake #1: Errors and inconsistent formatting.

Errors and inconsistent formatting are perhaps the most important aspects of a resume for English majors to avoid. When I’m searching for an English major to hire for a freelance writing gig, finding silly spelling or punctuation errors (especially more than one) or formatting inconsistencies (such as misaligned bullet points, extra spaces and unnecessary gaps in text) is a red flag.

I’m always looking for writers who can offer both a quality and close attention to detail, and it’s important that their resumes reflect the ability to do this. I recommend asking a few detail-oriented friends to look over your resume, or even hiring a professional editor (yes, even English majors need editors!). When a single piece of paper stands between you and a potential job, it’s definitely worth it!

Mistake #2: Simply too much text.

Let’s face it: English majors are known for being a bit wordy on paper! We can’t help it; it’s in our nature. We love words! But when it comes to a resume, this can be a negative thing.

When a resume is PACKED with long sentences or too many bullet points, it can be daunting to even begin reading. White space is your friend! There’s no need to use complete sentences; do your best to be succinct and to narrow in on a few key details. The ability to pare down your writing is a skill in and of itself!

Mistake #3: Poor design.

Simplicity and consistency are your friends when it comes to the design of your resume. Whether you choose to hire a graphic designer, buy a pre-made resume template or just do it yourself, you need to have a design that’s easy on the eyes (not too much text!), a font that’s easy to read, and clearly delineated sections.

Need some help getting started on your resume? Learn exactly how to craft a job-winning resume (and how to tailor it, too!) from From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days: A Guide for English Majors, and download a free PDF on how to tailor your resume HERE.


Alyssa W. Christensen is the creator and managing editor of DearEnglishMajor.com. She lives in Seattle, WA and provides professional writing and marketing services to a variety of clients. Alyssa is also the Managing Editor of Home Scribe Creative, a professional writing service for real estate agents. Alyssa enjoys hanging out with her husband, spoiling her dog, playing guitar and violin, painting, writing poetry, and travel. She is also the author of the book From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days: A Guide for English Majors.