Repetition on Your Resume: The Good and the Bad
Repetition on Your Resume: The Good and the Bad
Repetition on your resume is good when it involves keywords, skills, accomplishments, and education that applicant tracking systems, recruiters and hiring managers are using to identify what they want most in a new hire. But repetition is not good when:
  • Repetition takes up valuable space you could use for new information.
  • You repeat duties or tasks you mastered long ago without showing any progress. However, if a job announcement requires those tasks or duties as part of your experience, you may want to consider repeating them, if you can show how you accomplished something for each organization where you worked.
  • You start every accomplishment with the same verb (“led,” “handled”).
Repetition pushes out new information. Even if you have held only two jobs in your life, they varied in some way. Was one organization bigger? Did you work with more or fewer people? Were the industries, products or services different in each company? Did the jobs involve contact with different people?

Repetition gets in the way of showing progress. From job to job, you learn something, if only how to work more efficiently or get along better with your peers. Maybe your title never changed at the small company where you work, but you did contribute over the years to its continuing success. What did you contribute this year that you did not contribute the year you were hired?

Repetition also indicates lazy thinking about your accomplishments. If you “led” a team, what did that team achieve? The achievement should lead the bullet point. For example, instead of repeating “Trained sales team” for the fifth time, one training manager wrote “Increased sales team’s understanding of product through training and certifications.”

While some repetition is bound to occur, a resume that is filled with repetitive statements is failing to differentiate you from the competition. Sometimes that failure is due to a lack of perspective: you begin to think that your job was easy because it was easy for you; or you forget how inept and clueless you were on that first day; or you set yourself to an impossibly high standard.