Writing a resume is hard. It’s difficult for a lot of us to sell ourselves. But sell ourselves we must. And we desperately want to break through that slushpile, so sometimes we get creative. Well, you have to be careful with that.
Forbes has a list of the top 12 most “outlandish” resume mistakes of 2013. Listed by employers, these include the following:
- “Resume consisted of one sentence: ‘Hire me, I’m awesome.’
- “Resume’s ‘Skills’ section was spelled ‘Skelze.’
- “Resume listed the candidate’s online video gaming experience leading warrior “clans,” suggesting that this passed for leadership experience.
- “Resume included time spent in jail for assaulting a former boss.”
- Then there’s the person who submitted the whole thing in Klingon, and another who created a music video resume.
Personally, I think those last two are awesome ideas, and I assume there are companies out there that would agree. So, maybe in some cases it’s more about knowing your audience.
It’s important to cater both your resume and cover letter to the particular jobs for which you’re applying. The one-size-fits-all approach is only going to work against you, especially when it comes to the software that does the initial sorting before the submissions are seen through human eyes. These spot keywords, so look for the keywords in the job posting and make sure to put them in your application. Then tailor the rest of the package for the job in question.
Some of us are still bound to mess up, as evidenced by the examples of resume mistakes I also gathered myself from hiring managers and career consultants. Some of these were clearly efforts to stand out, others were just stupidity. Whatever the case, read and learn.
“I had a Swedish candidate who was born in the U.S. but has a Swedish college and companies on her C.V., along with a summary at the top that said that she’s a frequent visitor to New York City (implying life-long going back and forth). When she arrived to meet me in midtown Manhattan she announced the reason for being 10 minutes late is she’s never been to NYC.” Shannon Mullen, Mullen Marketing Search.
“This college graduate had used the ampersand instead of the word ‘and’ everywhere, including his cover letter. It might have been original on his part, but I didn’t get past the first two sentences.” Susan Hawkins, a former company recruiter.
A cover letter mistake, which highlights the importance of tailoring to specific jobs: “I have often received cover letters for people applying for a job using an obvious form letter. Unfortunately, they failed to change the name of the new company they were contacting and left the previous company embedded in the letter. The result? ‘So I would love to work for the XYZ company.’ But I am the ABC company. So I respond: ‘I hope that the XYZ takes you up on your offer.'” David Brimm, BrimmComm Inc.
“Their objective was not in-line with the company at all. ‘Seeking opportunities in healthcare to pursue my passion,’ yet the company has nothing to do with healthcare!!” Albert Ko, co-founder, DealGuppy.com
“I’d literally make a separate discard profile for ridiculously unprofessional email addresses. They are free from countless sources, so get one with your name and personal brand professionally represented. FeverChic, GoodTimes27, WhineSeller are a few that come to mind.” Steve Williams, PhishLine.com
“The Quirked Out Personal Statement: Stating a clean career objective is fine, but there is a humbleness that needs to come with searching for new opportunities and personal statements that are self-glorifying or attention seeking also find the discard profile. i.e. “I am overflowing with passion, inspire others daily to be better, love working under the gun, and deadlines excite me!” Steve Williams, PhishLine.com.
“Do not include your picture or headshot! Some people believe that a professional headshot on a resume is akin to a professional biography for public speaking, and will put a name with a face to make you stand out from the crowd, perhaps even endear you to the recruiter. What this picture on a resume inadvertently does is get your resume immediately tossed in the trash to avoid potential legal issues and scrutiny of the recruiter and hiring company for race, age, gender, or ethnicity bias.” Tonya Tiggett, career success strategist and communication consultant.
“‘MacDonalds Restaurant – Drive thru window and cashier.’ The applicant not only misspelled their former employer, but one of the most recognizable brands on Earth.” Parket Condit, hiring manager.
“The worst mistake I’ve seen was on the resume AND in the follow-up. A new graduate applying for an entry-level marketing job seemed ideal for the position, except she had two typos on her resume. I would’ve hired her in a heartbeat except for that – this was a position that demanded attention to detail. I pictured this young woman getting turned down for other positions and not knowing why, so I thought it would be appreciated if I was honest with her. When I called her to explain about the typos, she told me to “go f*** myself” because if I was so nit-picky she’d never want to work for me anyway.” Lisa Fahoury, Fahoury Inc. LLC
Okay, that’s just rude, and clueless. Every employer will be judging you based on typos in your resume. If you can’t turn in an error-free document when you’re trying to be hired, how does that suggest you’ll perform on the job? Before you submit your resume, Proofread it carefully, and have someone else proofread it for you to catch any mistakes you might have missed – or any weirdly inappropriate information that you may have included.