16 Things You Don’t Want to Hear About Your Resume

As the hiring season heats up along with the economy, we’re making a commitment to expand our blog to provide insight, advice and anecdotes useful to job seekers. Today, we look at several pitfalls that can affect your resume – and how to fix them.

16. “We can’t pay you this much.”
You hear this when your resume includes salary history. Except for federal resumes, which are governed by strict compensation scales, your resume should NEVER list salary history. If the job listing says that resumes with salary history will not be considered, you may want to reconsider that company – odds are they are looking to hire as cheaply as possible.

15. “I don’t see any support for these skills.”
You REALLY don’t want to hear this one. If your resume doesn’t demonstrate real world application of claimed skills, it is almost assured that you will be passed over. Hiring managers see boastful claims every day and have a strong preference for those resumes that back up claims with results and achievements.

14. “Why is there so much information on your resume?”
Long story short – your resume is too long or too dense. If you have five years of experience or less, your resume should be one page; five to ten years supports one or two pages, and more than ten years of experience usually demands two pages. Remember, hiring managers have a lot of resumes to evaluate and generally give each one 10-30 seconds depending on the individual. Taking as few words to accurately convey your impact is vital.

13. “Where did you go to school?”
Also known as “your resume is so indecipherable I couldn’t get the information I wanted from it.” Whitespace, section headers and visual separation between elements will easily fix this problem.

12. “We don’t feel your qualifications match the job.”
Hearing this isn’t necessarily a failure of your resume, and more likely represents a failure in choosing the opportunity to pursue.  Be realistic about your chances. It’s very hard to be objective, but you will save yourself a lot of heartache and wasted time by picking appropriate jobs.

11. “You’re clearly overqualified for this position.”
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about this one. ‘Dumbing down’ your resume is an acceptable strategy, but usually unravels under closer scrutiny in the interview and verification phases.

10. “What were you doing during this these years?”
Gaps in employment are troublesome and difficult to overcome. In our years of experience as professional resume writers, we’ve found that a hybrid format works best: Detailing your skills and then listing your career history in summary form. In this way, you emphasize your expertise while minimizing your career timeline.

9. “Did someone else write this resume for you?”
In the resume writing business, we strive to match our clients attitude and tone. There is certainly nothing wrong with hiring a resume writer (and we recommend it, for obvious reasons), but it is something best left between you and you your writer.

8. “I’ve never seen a resume quite like this before.”
And not in a good way. There are some resumes that defy logic, whether they list kindergarten education (personally witnessed), children’s names and ages (personally witnessed) admissions of embezzlement (personally witnessed) or anything else that common sense dictates keeping off a resume. It should go without saying that you really don’t want your resume in this pile.

7. “Domestic Engineer? What’s that?”
Because we offer job seekers a free review of their resume, we see a lot of resumes each day. Recently, one woman (who later became a customer) listed a job title of Domestic Engineer and that she “Sustained life for 3 separate individuals, while molding them into physically and mentally healthy teens.” The attempt was admirable, but ultimately will result in your resume being tossed and more than a few snickers shared.

6. “The formatting looks screwed up.”
A lot of job seekers like to send their resumes in Microsoft Word. The problem is that unless the recipient has exactly the same fonts as the ones you’ve used in your resume, Words font replacement system will destroy a carefully crafted document and turn it into a monstrosity. We always send clients a matching version of the resume as a PDF because it will look the same on all computers (and tablets, etc.). Bullzip makes a free PDF printer that will allow you to print from Word into a PDF.

5. “What was your biggest accomplishment?”
If your resume doesn’t clearly spell out your biggest accomplishments, then its not doing its job. Your job descriptions should tell the story of what you did and how your work impacted your employer. Accomplishments always boil down to one of three things: making money, saving money, or improving the perception of the company.

4. “You think very highly of yourself.”
While a hiring manager will likely not say this, many of them think it. If your resume is packed with over the top boasts that aren’t backed up, the chances of being taken seriously are next to nil. Sales professionals are especially guilty of this; stating that you are a top ranked sales rep and not listing any hard figures is a sure fire way to be passed over.

3. “Your resume just doesn’t stand out.”
In this day and age where there can be hundreds of applicants for the same job, you might hear this one a lot. If you use a Microsoft Office template or your own formatting, its very easy for a resume to appear flat and uninspired. Try some interesting fonts (Garamond, Gothic S and Palatino are some of our favorites), ample white space, mixing narrative with bullet points and horizontal lines to separate elements. Little touches go a long way.

2. “I couldn’t open your resume file.”
If you send your resume in a format other than PDF or Word Document, chances are that it may not get read at all. As per above, we recommend sending your file in PDF, as its near universal adoption and consistent appearance makes it a safe choice. 

1. Nothing at all
Pretty self explanatory. No comments, no feedback, nothing to use to improve your resume.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *