Did Someone Really Write That?

Resumes are frequently used to make a first impression on hiring managers. Yet many job seekers are making mistakes on their resumes that are leading to a flat first impression. Here are some examples of resume content that falls flat, confuses, or amuses the reader -- all at the expense of the candidate.

Too flat

Objective: I am seeking a challenging entry-level position that allows me to contribute my customer service skills, computer repair experience, and technical background.

Hiring managers don't care what type of position you are seeking and this objective offers very little information on how you will help the company solve their problems. Generally objectives are a waste of space and tell the reader nothing of value. Focus instead on explaining your competencies along with proof of how you help solve real business problems.

Too confusing

Objective: I love to learn and interact with people. I am very motivated and want to make a difference in the lives of the people in their community.

This applicant was an accountant. The objective doesn't fit the roles she will be targeting. Her accounting experience and skills aren't even mentioned in this objective statement. Don't confuse your reader. Craft a targeted opening that explains to the employer why you are a good fit for their open position.

Too cliche

Energetic, accomplished professional with over 20 years of office, administrative, and finance experience. Reputation for effective team management, strong organizational techniques. Pay critical attention to detail and excellent written/oral communication skills. Outstanding analytical skills with demonstrated ability to interpret and summarize information. Exceptional multi-tasking capabilities with effective time management techniques.

I can't tell you how many times I have read a similar profile at the top of a resume. Everyone claims to be a great team player and communicator but almost no one supplements these claims with any proof of these personal attributes. This type of profile is overused and it makes the candidate look lazy. Stop using the words that everyone uses on their resume and use the words that are relevant to you and your experience. If you are a great communicator, prove it to me; if attention to detail is critical to your job, give me an example where you used this competency to make money, save money, or save time for an employer.

Too revealing

While I advocate for disclosing dates of employment and education on a resume, despite the candidate's age, I don't recommend that older candidates make their age a focal part of the resume.

High School, 1976

This candidate placed this information in the top half of her resume even though she had other educational experiences from the 1990s that were more relevant. She also reported her education in chronological order (from earliest to most recent experience) rather than reverse chronological order (from most recent to earliest experience) calling more attention to her age.

Engineering professional with over 40 years of experience

This gentleman called attention to the number of years' experience he had in the opening sentence of his profile. A better strategy would be to focus on some specific aspect of his engineering career, where he had accomplished something noteworthy, in the past 10 years. For example, he might say he has 10 years' engineering experience with a focus on power generator installations. This information would probably be more relevant to his reader and it would call less attention to his age.

Too silly

I frequently receive resumes with e-mail addresses that are far from professional. This makes me question the candidate's judgment before I even read their resume. Some recent examples include:

  • thirstylady@...
  • lilstudnmd@...
  • uglypubs@...
  • bunnyhugcarroll@...
  • badgears@...
  • coolauntj@...
  • alady4agntlmn@...

Create an e-mail address that is some combination of your first and last name. Now's not the time to be cute or clever

Next:Resume Rescue: The No. 1 Resume Mistake and How to Fix It

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