Top Resume Turn-offs

November 20, 2018

I talk with lots of job seekers. I speak with lots of hiring managers. And I see lots of resumes. And I see lots of major turn-offs. Your resume, if it is being read by an actual human, is likely to be scanned for a mere six seconds. That means that you have very little time to make a good impression. Apart from the obvious things that could get your C.V. tossed aside — like spelling or grammatical errors – you need to be aware of subtler resume turn-offs. This is my public service announcement to you—you get the benefit of my having reviewed thousands of horrid resumes without having to do so yourself! Are you doing any of the following? If you are, stop immediately!

Snail mail address. No one is going to send you anything via the postal service. Including your physical address not only opens you up to potential identity theft, but it also says that you are out of touch with current norms. In addition, it’s a waste of precious real estate on your resume.

A list of tasks/job duties. No one is interested in your job duties or what you are “responsible for.” In fact, do an audit of your resume and remove that phrase entirely. Your resume should focus on your achievements, not on your daily tasks.

Nothing is quantified. You say you’re awesome. Maybe you are. But how would I know? Show me the results in specific numbers. “Improved CAGR by 6%” is much more powerful than “successfully managed a large portfolio of products.”

It’s too long. The outdated idea that your resume should never exceed 1 page is just that—outdated. But unless you are crafting a formal C.V. for an academic or government position, keep it to 2-3 pages max.

Hotmail or Yahoo. Is someone going to send you an email to 1998?

It reads like a dating profile. Employers do not care what you like and what your aspirations are. They care about their current business problem and are looking for talent to solve that problem. So, don’t include commentary on your hobbies, your health, your family, etc.

It’s a boring read. While you shouldn’t include too many extraneous personal details, you also shouldn’t have a resume that reads like an excerpt of a PhD dissertation. Make it interesting, engaging, and compelling. Tell the reader something unique about you.

You include an objective statement. Is it 1982? Again, hiring managers aren’t interested in your objectives. They’re interested in their pressing business needs. Use your resume to portray yourself as the answer to their problems.

Crazy graphics. This makes it hard to scan. Text only, please.

“Functional” format. All recruiters and hiring managers universally hate this one. It makes it look like you’re trying to hide something, and it makes it impossible to see the progression of your career. Use a chronological format.

“References furnished upon request.” Duh. Of course, they are. Don’t waste space listing or referring to references.

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