Resume Mistakes: Recruiter Insights

Whether you believe studies that show that a recruiter spends on average six seconds reviewing an individual resume or that a resume is initially screened for reasons to reject a candidate, you don’t want to make obvious mistakes that will negatively bias your resume.  Mistakes happen – we’re only human – but mistakes on your resume should not.  We asked our team at The CFO Suite for some of the biggest ones they’ve seen so you could learn what not to do:

Careless Errors

Brittany Burke, Consultative and Interim Staffing Recruiting Manager, shared, “A candidate once sent me his resume with track changes and comments still turned on. Thankfully, it was sent to me, so I was able to correct the mistake. But if the candidate had sent that version directly to the hiring manager, he would’ve immediately been filed into the NO pile.”

Brittany highlighted another blatant example for us. “A candidate sent her references along with her resume and she was listed on her OWN reference list! Again, thank goodness she sent it to me first. You just can’t make those kinds of mistakes.”

Lack of customization

Gary Bumgarner, Executive Search Recruiting Manager, sees far too many one-size-fits-all resumes. Here’s Gary: “At the executive level, you have to customize your resume for your specific audience. And not just your resume; your cover letter should be targeted too. If they’re not, hiring managers will assume it’s just one of 50 resumes you sent out that day. It’s one of the biggest mistakes I see and it’s one of the biggest missed opportunities.”

Formatting

Sarah Collins, Executive Search Recruiting Manager, shared a deal breaker for her: “I’m a stickler for professional formatting. Your resume shouldn’t be pink or yellow or “pretty” in any way (unless you’re applying for a design role). Forget the fancy fonts and the busy templates. You’re an executive and your resume should reflect that.”

Resume Length and Detail

Kristy Boles, Executive Search Recruiting Director, constantly sees resumes that are too long. “No resume should be 5+ pages long, and no resume should list your experience dating back to high school. We want to learn about roles that are relevant to your current career path. That does not include your job as a pizza delivery guy.  Also, job seekers get too bogged down in the details of their past roles. Don’t write out your job description – tell me what you accomplished in that role.”

Inconsistency with Social Media Platforms

Gary is also disappointed when he sees that a candidate’s resume and LinkedIn profiles don’t align. “Which narrative are we supposed to follow? Employers will think you either have something to hide or didn’t care enough to get it right. Both assumptions are bad for you.”

Overly-Personal Details

Jaime Chisolm, Consultative and Interim Staffing Recruiting Manager, tells us, “I see a lot of odd details that really stand out like a sore thumb. I don’t need to know that you enjoy barbecuing or consider yourself a “foodie”. If it’s not relevant to the position, the hiring manager certainly won’t care.”

Cindy Frisch, Executive Search Recruiting Manager, agrees. She’s also happy to see fewer candidates include their personal address and information on their resumes. “It still happens more often than it should,” Cindy told us. “Not only should this be confidential personal information but hiring managers may write you off if they think you live too far away from the office.  Don’t give them a reason to reject you when it might not even be valid.”

It’s the Little Things

Finally, Jaime also told us “I see overlapping dates of employment all the time! People need to pay attention to the details. Employers look at the dates on your resume to understand the story of your career. If they can’t easily put the pieces together, they will move on.”

That’s quite a list, but it’s important to note that every one of our recruiters had multiple accounts about the #1 Mistake: Careless Errors. Approximately 70% of employers say that certain resume mistakes would make them reject a candidate before they’ve even finished reading the first page.  Don’t let this happen to you!