A recruiter rants about rampant resume ridiculousness.
On the days when I'm reading lots of resumes, I can predict I will spend a lot of my time shaking my head and muttering to myself, "What were you thinking?!"
Sometimes, I'll even admit I actually yell it out in exasperation.
Maybe you think I'm a nitpicker, but far too many resumes are impaired by minor mistakes or missteps which really aren't so minor if they are what keep you from making the short list for an interview.
Here are ten of my pet peeves about resumes:
1. Fancy fonts.
No, your name does not look more interesting in that giant blue Old English script. In fact, I can't read it at all, because my computer doesn't have that font, and so it just created a completely unintelligible mess, which of course reflects on you because your resume is all I have to go on.
Just stick to common fonts like Arial, Tahoma, and Times New Roman unless you're a designer, and even then, no more than two fonts in a resume, please.
2. More than two pages.
I know that some of you are thinking "Are you crazy? How could I possibly fit my many years of important experience on just two pages?!" By editing, that's how.
A resume is not a chronicle of your life. It is a summary of pertinent experience. It's a short story, not a novel, and it's your job to figure how to tell that story in the space you have, and that's two pages.
3. No positioning statement or objective.
Am I supposed to just look at your experience and magically know what kind of job you are aiming for? While what you have done is important, what you want to do next is important, too.
The experience section is about your past, but this new job opportunity is about your future, and it's a wasted opportunity if your resume doesn't clearly indicate the kind of job you are aiming for.
4. Missing or hard-to-find contact information.
Don't put your contact information in miniature letters on the bottom of your resume because you think it looks cool. That's not where I'm going to look for it.
Include your phone, email and LinkedIn profile at the top of the page. Make it easy for people to contact you, not hard.
5. Too-much-information email addresses.
I get resumes all the time from people using the email address from their current job, which makes me question their loyalty and judgment. In many companies, your corporate email account is monitored, so it might even get you fired.
And leave the clever emails off, even if you really are a proudgrandpa @email.com or hotdancingqueen @email.com. For your job search, get an email account that uses your name.
6. Corporate gobbledygook.
The definition of gobbledygook is "wordy and generally unintelligible jargon" and that pretty much nails a large percentage of resumes I get. It's as if people are so freaked out by writing their resume that they forget how to speak English.
Don't try to impress me with acronyms and buzzwords, and don't throw in every number you can think of. Just tell the important parts of the story, straight and simple.
7. Typos or grammatical errors.
I know I'll probably get a comment that it's unfair to eliminate a candidate for a little typo, and maybe even pointing out a typo in this blog. Here's the deal: resumes are too important for you not to care that it's perfect, so instead of arguing, spend that time fixing your resume.
A typo on your resume is like showing up to the interview with a hole in your shirt; you might have a perfectly reasonable explanation, but it doesn't make you look good.
8. Third-person. This one continues to haunt me. As I've said before, it creeps me out when I get a resume written in third person. A resume is not a bio, and saying "Mr. Jackson has 20 years of experience" is just weird and off-putting.
You want people to feel a personal connection to you, not more distance. No third person resumes, please.
9. Eye-straining tiny text or paper-wasting giant text.
Some people think the way to fit more words on the page is to shrink the text down and reduce the margins, but that just makes it impossible to read.
On the other end of the spectrum, I got a resume recently that ran eight pages of large type. When I shrunk it down, it actually all fit comfortably on one page. Both of these are ridiculous extremes.
10. Writing "RESUME" at the top and "References on Request" at the bottom.
Don't be silly. We know it's a resume, and we know that if you want the job, you'll have to provide some references when we ask for them, so don't waste your valuable resume real estate stating the obvious.
In general, if people would just use their head when creating their resume, these could all be avoided. And if I've hit anything here that reminds you of your resume, awesome. Make some changes, and you just might find yourself getting called for more interviews, and that's the big payoff.