As the leaves start to change and the days become shorter, we are seeing the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte (aka PSL), rainboots, plaid shirts and copious obligatory pumpkin patch pictures filling up social media. These seasonal habits are all frequently referred to as “basic” fall behavior, meaning that they are expected and unoriginal. Yet year after year, large quantities of people unwittingly fall into these typical social habits (myself included).

If you engage in these “basic” behaviors, have you stopped to consider if other areas of your life could be considered “basic”? Have you fallen into expected patterns in your professional life as well? Are you blending in when you need to stand out in order to succeed, such as on your resume?

Let’s take a look at some basic resume habits that we should fall out of this fall.


Basic Habit 1: Highlighting duties

Instead of filling your resume with past job duties, highlight what you have actually accomplished. Most managers are aware of the job duties that correspond with a variety of job titles, making listing every single job duty and function unnecessary and basic. Instead, focus your resume around what you did while you held that job title. Did you take on leadership roles? Did you participate in successful projects? Did you make a meaningful change in the company? Did you leave your mark? Were you an active participant on the team? What opportunities did you take advantage of?

Basic Habit 2: Generalizing

Generalizing and creating a one size fits all resume may save you time, but will simply not stand out in a stack of applications. Make an impression by tailoring your resume to not only the industry or position that you are applying for, but also for the company. Yes, this requires more time and effort; however, researching a company and writing your resume to showcase the areas of your work history that align with their company values will set you apart.

Basic Habit 3: Copying and pasting

While there is a plethora of websites that allow you to enter your information into the correct spaces and will spit out a basic resume, refuse the urge to copy and paste. Not only are these resumes often littered with mistakes, but you are giving potential employers the impression that you would rather take shortcuts than put the time into producing a quality product.

Basic Habit 4: Using different fonts and layouts to attract attention

A habit that some candidates fall into is using different layouts and fancy fonts to attract attention rather than relying on the content of their resume to earn them an interview. Like that perfect picture of someone wearing plaid while drinking a PSL at the pumpkin patch, employers will recognize this as a basic maneuver to distract from the fact that the content itself does not set you apart from other applicants. Rather than relying on fonts and layouts to attract attention, focus on the content and what makes you a unique and valuable candidate. Just like your friends scrolling past the “basic” fall pictures, without substance in your resume, hiring managers will quickly move on.


If you read through this list and recognized a basic habit or two that you have fallen into in the past, take this opportunity to revisit and revise your resume to make it anything but basic!