12 Totally Ridiculous Resume Mistakes


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Is your resume clever or dumb? Find out what 2,300 hiring managers think of common resume tactics.

More than 12.5 million Americans are looking for work, according to the latest government jobs report. For many of them, the difference between being a statistic and being employed is a good resume.

We’re not even talking about a lot of work experience, although that’s part of it. A new CareerBuilder survey of almost 2,300 hiring managers nationwide asked what would make them automatically dismiss a candidate. Among the top responses were typos (61 percent), an inappropriate email address (35 percent), not listing skills (30 percent), and sending in a resume more than two pages long (22 percent).

That’s not all. The survey also asked hiring managers to describe their most memorably terrible applications. Here are the hilarious ones…

  1. Candidate called himself a genius and invited the hiring manager to interview him at his apartment.
  2. Candidate’s cover letter talked about her family being in the mob.
  3. Candidate applying for a management job listed “gator hunting” as a skill.
  4. Candidate’s resume included phishing as a hobby.
  5. Candidate specified that her resume was set up to be sung to the tune of “The Brady Bunch.”
  6. Candidate highlighted the fact that he was “Homecoming Prom Prince” in 1984.
  7. Candidate claimed to be able to speak “Antartican” when applying for a job to work in Antarctica.
  8. Candidate’s resume had a photo of the applicant reclining in a hammock under the headline “Hi, I’m _____ and I’m looking for a job.”
  9. Candidate’s resume was decorated with pink rabbits.
  10. Candidate listed “to make dough” as the objective on the resume.
  11. Candidate applying for an accounting job said he was “deetail-oriented” and spelled the company’s name incorrectly.
  12. Candidate’s cover letter contained “LOL.”

Sometimes there’s a fine line between obnoxious and genius – managers also shared their most creative applications, and some of these don’t sound that different from the Brady Bunch sing-along resume. All  got hired…

  1. Candidate sent his resume in the form of an oversized Rubik’s Cube, where you had to push the tiles around to align the resume.
  2. Candidate who had been a stay-at-home mom listed her skills as nursing, housekeeping, chef, teacher, bio-hazard cleanup, fight referee, taxi driver, secretary, tailor, personal shopping assistant, and therapist.
  3. Candidate created a marketing brochure promoting herself as the best candidate.
  4. Candidate listed accomplishments and lessons learned from each position. He gave examples of good customer service he provided as well as situations he wished he would have handled differently.
  5. Candidate applying for a food and beverage management position sent a resume in the form of a fine-dining menu.

Hiring managers spend an average of just six seconds looking at your resume – obviously you do need something to stand out. But that doesn’t mean you have to use some kind of gimmick. The weird ways people find jobs make for interesting stories, but those people are a lucky minority. Sometimes simple is best, so here are a few quick tips…

1. Include only relevant experience and accomplishments

The employer doesn’t care how interesting your life is – only if you’re a good fit for the job. If you can’t make past experience sound useful to the new role, leave it off.

2. Leave enough space to keep it readable

Nobody wants to strain their eyes looking at a dense block of text, least of all hiring managers who have to look at hundreds of those blocks. Leaving some white space makes your resume stand out – and it requires you to trim wordy descriptions and make judgment calls about the best stuff to leave in.

3. Instead of a vague objective, provide a quick summary of your experience

While “to gain valuable experience and help the company succeed” is a smarter objective than “to make dough,” it’s still a no-brainer waste of space. Make that objective useful by explaining what you’ve done, what you’re good at, and how you can fit into the company.

4. Proofread multiple times for mistakes

You probably already do this just after updating it. But wait a few hours or until the next day and do it again, so you look at it from a fresh perspective. Even better: Ask the English major among your friends and family to take a look.

Stacy Johnson

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