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What is the number one thing you hate to see on a resume?

I know that this is a basic question, but it matters to me in my future job search. Obviously, spelling and grammar are things to watch for, but there has to be something else that employers can't stand. I want to avoid mistakes that I just may not know about yet. #business #job-search #resume

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Kim’s Answer


I can list only one thing? That's impossible.

  1. formatting inconsistencies. Pick one font and stick with it. You can vary the size, use a conservative amount of bold, italics, or underlining, center, etc, but keep one font!
  2. "responsible for. . . " I counted this 27 times on one resume. Please, just say you did it: Responsible for creating employee work schedules." "Created employee work schedules."
  3. Tense inconsistencies. Talking about past jobs in the present tense, and then slipping into past tense.
  4. Bullet issues. Bullets should be the same size, properly aligned. Sometimes this can be tricky. Don't give up!
  5. the words "e-mail" and "phone" preceding this information in the header. Everyone knows that's what they are! Also, forgetting to include an e-mail address!
  6. Using the official company job description rather than telling me what you really did, in your own words. "May be assigned to work at remote locations." May? were you or weren't you?
  7. Not knowing how to right margin justify. If you put the city/state, or dates of employment, on the right side, line them all up. The easiest way is to create a 2x2 table, then remove the borders.
  8. Taking full credit for running the company single-handedly. "Set up equipment, manufactured widgets, packaged products, stored in warehouse, loaded trucks, and transported products." If you were successful, it is only because you had a good team. Give them credit!
  9. Forgetting to showcase your people skills. I see this on management resumes. The ability to recognize and develop talent is important -not everyone can do it.
  10. Trying to use big fancy words that aren't in your vocabulary, and not using them correctly.
  11. Having someone else write the resume! The thought that goes into the resume will prepare you for the interview. There are no shortcuts!
  12. Not cleaning it up. You want to convey a lot of information with a few words. It needs to be "tight." I've seen really wordy resumes that say nothing. And really short resumes that also say nothing. Your challenge is to say a lot with a few words. This takes work, and a mastery of the language.

I imagine I left something out, but this is a good start!


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Nicole’s Answer

Typos. There is no reason for any typos on a resume, it shows a lack of attention to detail. Tailor the CV to the position, but pay attention to the changes you make for mistakes.

A related topic: always follow-up an interview with a thank you letter right away.

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Linda Ann’s Answer

Hi Lauren,

I Like the first response to your question, from Kim. I too have issues with inconsistent formatting AND limiting our answers to “the number one thing” on resumes. So, here’s my response that includes multiple issues.

Why formatting can be problematic: The inconsistent formatting suggests to the recruiter that you weren’t paying attention when you put that resume together, failed to proofread it on a printed-out copy (how it looks on the screen v. how it looks on paper) and are generally a careless person. When hundreds of resumes are received for an advertised position, careless resumes will immediately go in the cemetery of discarded ones!

A photograph: a common practice outside of the USA. Don’t do it for jobs in America. It’s not normative. Why is it a problem: ageism, sexism, racism; that is, laws prohibiting discrimination in hiring. A photo could lend itself to unconscious factors in hiring!

GPA: unless asked for in the position’s description, do not include it for high school, college major, or overall upon graduation. If an employer is interested beyond the round of interviews, that information is readily obtained on an official transcript!

A resume from a previously unemployed person e.g., new college graduate who never had a part time job that is too long (2-3 pages) filled with lots of extraneous details that are irrelevant to the job’s requirements. Example: you played trombone in the high school and college band for a total of 8 years. Great, bravo for your service to your community. However, how would that ‘community service’ be relevant to an accounting position??? A resume from a new college graduate should generally be no more than one page long, 1 inch margins all around!

Failure to use verbs/accomplishments to express what you actually did when you ‘interned’ at Smith-Barney during the summer of 2016. I want to know, concisely, how that internship qualifies you for the position you have applied for at my company.

So, you will need to tailor a resume for each of the positions to which you apply!! I suggest that you have a friend or colleague OR knowledgeable academic advisor (or someone in the Career Counseling Office at your college) review a generic draft of a resume. That generic draft will then be ‘tweaked’ (customized) for specific job applications).

Good luck!!

Names & contact information of references. It looks like ‘filler’ on a resume (again, unless you were asked to provide “3 references”); omit it. On the last line say something like “References available on request.”

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Shiqi’s Answer

Formatting and typos. This shows that you did not spend a lot of time and effort to get yourself a job. As someone who sees the resume I wouldn't assume you care about this application that much.

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Katy’s Answer

Long resumes that don't pertain to the position I'm hiring for along with information I cannot understand. Acronyms are great but specific to job/industry. If I can't tell what you are doing, I don't know if you are a good fit.

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Sreekanth’s Answer

Detailed resumes with information that is not relevant for the position that you are applying for.