I recently petitioned hiring managers to share their stories of terrible things candidates have done during the hiring process that tanked their chances of getting the job. And they shared some great examples. Most of those examples involved things the candidates did during the job interview – these included pulling cheque cons, speaking in the third person, and patting the interviewer on the bum. One person, however, sent me a couple of resume samples, which I decided to save for a separate article, and which I will now share.

Tony Palm, President of Military Professionals, LLC, an organization that helps veterans transition into the workforce, said:

    “I’ve seen some interesting things during interviews, but nothing can beat some of the ridiculous resumes I’ve received over the course of my 10-year staffing career. For about 6 years, I’ve been putting some of the most outrageous samples in a folder I’ve dubbed, Dumb Stuff Candidates Do: A Compendium of Fails, Faux Pas, and FUBARs.

    “I’ve attached two of my favorites, their identities have been removed due to privacy concerns. Enjoy.”

I’ve pulled some highlights from these resumes and rewritten large chunks to even further obscure the identities of the candidates, then added commentary below, to explain what makes the highlighted areas so bad – if it wasn’t already obvious.

Here is the excerpt from the first, which Palm called, the “second worst resume ever.” (Click to enlarge)

    1. WHAT? That doesn’t even make sense.
    2. No, you don’t. Liar. Nobody does “anything.” Anyway, employers are only interested in how your skills and abilities pertain directly to their requirements. They don’t want you to do “anything.”
    3. No, you’re not.
    4. Now you just sound totally bonkers. If you were so smart you’d know that.
    5. For good reason. BECAUSE EMPLOYERS WANT TO KNOW YOUR WORK HISTORY. Also,you mean “education” history, not “educational.
    6. You should have talked about your qualifications in your resume.
    7. No, thank you.

There is so much wrong there. It’s not that you can’t have an unconventional resume. They can be fantastic. But, whatever resume format you choose, you must demonstrate your value by showing what you have achieved and will achieve for the company with which you’re applying, not talk random nonsense about your high opinion of yourself and your weird collection of interests.

But wait, there’s more.

That example was followed by what Palm dubbed the “worst resume ever.” That resume was a four-page long list of trade positions lasting between one month and several months spanning about two decades. Don’t do that. If you worked a variety of short contracts over twenty years, sum it up in one listing. The candidate also claimed to have worked as an air traffic controller for 15 years before being “terminated from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).” The candidate also listed the reasons for the termination.

Two notes about that:

1. It’s mildly disconcerting that this person was an air traffic controller.
2. Don’t put that you were fired in your resume!

Here’s the worst part:

OK, don’t list your marriage history on your resume. And DON’T LIST A RAPE CHARGE.

I assume this candidate figured he might as well come clean about everything since it would probably come out anyway. But, here’s an important piece of advice: even if you have something in your past of which you are ashamed – and I hope it’s not a rape charge, but in the real world there are people who have been to prison and need to find jobs – don’t list it on your resume. It’s hard to say when this sort of thing might come up during the hiring process – and it might – you will potentially have to address it at some point, like before a background check – but don’t put it in your resume.

I hope you would never have made any of these errors, but at least now you know better.

This post was originally published on October 21, 2014