Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live the life of a recruiter? Well maybe not. But I’m sure most of us have wondered what a recruiter will think of our resume. After all, the resume is often our ticket through the gate to employment. The resume can make or break us when it comes to getting to the next step. Finding a job can be an overwhelming, daunting experience – where to look, how to apply, what to avoid, and how exactly to write that darn resume! Trust me, I feel for you. I have written hundreds of resumes for friends, family and various individuals needing guidance on the art of the resume. Unless you’ve lived the life of a recruiter or hiring manager, knowing how to write a resume is not common knowledge.
I’ve written posts about what to include in your resume, which you can read here. However, you can include all the great formatting and content you want, but if you include something that drives a recruiter bananas, all that hard work may go down the drain – right alongside your hopes of employment.
No fears! I’m here to help. I’ve asked several of our top recruiters to provide some of their personal pet peeves they see in resumes so I could share it all with you.
Here are the top ten resume pet peeves recruiters want you to avoid.
- Spelling and grammatical errors. I listed this one first because this is one of my top pet peeves as well. I am a self-proclaimed grammar police. This title doesn’t gain me any friends – sometimes probably does the opposite. But I can’t help it. It’s ingrained in me as much as my need to wipe my kids’ runny noses. If it’s running, it will get wiped. Same goes with grammar – if I see grammatical errors, I will make a mental note of it. And if at all possible, I will point it out so that it gets corrected. Same goes for recruiters. They will hone in on spelling and grammatical errors faster than they will your Employee of the Year Award. There is just absolutely no excuse for errors on a resume or cover letter. And if you’re not a self-proclaimed grammar police like me, have a friend or family member review it for you – the more eyes, the better to catch any potential issues.
- Long, wordy resumes. In contrast to what you may think, recruiters don’t have a lot of time to read through your entire life history. In fact, according to a study done by The Ladders, recruiters spend approximately six seconds scanning a resume. And about 80% of their time is spent on a person’s name, current and previous titles/companies, current and previous start and end dates, and education. Recruiters want to know pretty quickly if you’re a fit for what they’re looking for – so don’t make them work for it. If they have to spend time finding out if you’re the perfect candidate, then you’re not; they won’t spend the time to figure it out. Include the pertinent information for the particular job you’re applying to, and don’t include unnecessary information recruiters don’t need to know.
- Confusing or complicated formatting. Again, don’t make a recruiter work to find what you have to offer. Let’s assume you are perfect for this job; your resume needs to showcase to the recruiter in an easy to read and aesthetically pleasing format you are exactly that. You should have consistent fonts throughout, use bullets to pull out pertinent information that matches the job description, and keep it as simple as possible. Pretend you’re a recruiter for a moment – can you glance at your resume and find out what you need to know within six seconds? If not, spend some time on reformatting it so that it’s clean and easy to read.
- Wrong or disconnected phone numbers. I mean, this may seem like an unnecessary thing to point out. It’s not like recruiters want to have to mention that this is a pet peeve, but unfortunately, it is. I couldn’t begin to speculate why this happens – and why it happens often enough for it to become something that riles recruiters up. Maybe it’s a typo (see pet peeve #1 to remedy that), maybe they forgot to update their resume with their new number, or maybe they just simply forgot to pay their bill. Whatever the reason, you can throw away your chances of getting a job with that cell phone bill you didn’t pay.
- Cover letter or summary is written for an entirely different job. Again, here we go with the obvious. When this happens, I can only assume it’s done in complete error. Obviously, no one would intentionally submit a cover letter or resume for another job on purpose, right? Whatever the reason, it most likely cost you a job. You may have a forgiving recruiter who can look past it, but chances aren’t in your favor. Even if it was in error, it’s indicative of someone who seemingly doesn’t place importance on making sure everything is in order to impress a potential employer.
- Too much personal information. It used to be more acceptable to include more personal information on resumes than it is today. A big reason for this is identity theft, but it’s also partly due to technology being what it is. Recruiters need very little personal information in order to contact you. I recommend only listing your name, phone #, email and LinkedIn URL. And to be honest, recruiters are very resourceful; they’ll track you down with only a name. You don’t want to include hobbies, photos – and most importantly – never list your social security number.
- Inconsistent employment dates listed on your resume, job application and LinkedIn profile. Recruiters pay attention to employment dates. Your employment dates are indicative of your work history pattern and how long you stay at each employer. It’s essential that your dates be accurate and consistent anywhere they’re listed. If the dates you list on your resume don’t match what you have on your LinkedIn profile, it immediately sends red flags to recruiters. Plus, if an employer wants to make you an offer, they will most likely confirm your dates of employment with your previous employers, so you want to make sure what you list matches with what will be confirmed.
- Listing jobs without employment dates. Along the same lines as above, if a recruiter receives a resume without dates of employment, it sends major red flags – more than if the dates are inconsistent. The immediate thought is that the candidate is hiding something: short stints at each employer, possibly lying about working somewhere, or not taking the time (lazy) to find out their dates so they don’t list them. Whatever the reason, you can almost guarantee they won’t move forward with that candidate.
- Resumes not sent as a Word or PDF file. If you’re job searching, you need to have your resume in a format that is widely accepted. The two most common formats are Microsoft Word (.doc) and Adobe Acrobat (.pdf). If you have another word processing program, you’ll need to make the investment and purchase one of these programs. Imagine being the perfect candidate with the perfectly written resume with no grammatical or spelling errors, and when the recruiter goes to open your resume they instead receive an error message stating their computer does not support the format they are attempting to open. Bye, bye perfect candidate.
- Resume is too general. This one is probably one of the biggest, right up there with grammatical and spelling errors. Too many job seekers think resumes are one size fits all. This is absolutely a detrimental assumption to make when applying for jobs. As I touched on above, cover letters and resumes need to be tailored to every job you apply to. If you’re applying for a very specific position, the variations will be minimal. However, each job description written had a lot of thought put into it. Employers list specific details in the job description for a reason – especially in the required and desired requirements. Your resume should mirror as much as possible what they are listing in the job description. Don’t let a recruiter assume you have a certain skill set or background – tell them! If you take the time to tailor your resume each time, you will be starting your first day on the job in no time.
Again, I know how stressful it can be writing an interview-worthy resume. Hopefully reading some of these pet peeves will help you avoid some of the resume writing pitfalls recruiters see. You’re just one beautifully formatted resume away from your next dream job!
Good luck job hunting.
Thank you to Trish Koester and her ROD team recruiters for sharing their resume pet peeves.