These resume mistakes will make you laugh… so long as you haven’t made them yourself.
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Your resume can be the key that unlocks the door to a new job. Or, it can be the blast of cold wind that slams the door shut before you ever get close to an interview.
We asked some employers to tell us about the biggest resume blunders they’ve experienced—and they had plenty to share.
So, while you’re busy unifying your fonts and running spell check, don’t lose site of the big picture. Here are five resume mega-blunders to avoid at all costs:
1. Dude is a Lady?
The CEO of Lexion Capital Management gets plenty of “dear sir …” cover letters from job seekers. Problem is, Elle Kaplan is decidedly a woman, and Lexion is one of the only 100 percent women-owned and operated investment firms in the U.S.
Applicants, she said, have “been assuming that I am a male! Huge mistake.”
Moral of the story: Don’t make assumptions! Do some research and figure out to whom you are sending your resume. Failing that, be gender neutral. And, no, we’re not talking about “dear sir or madame”—unless, of course, you’re applying for a job in 1974.
2. Template Troubles
A resume template can be great…as long as you don’t forget to fill the thing out. Elaine Simon of DeBebians.com received a resume from an applicant who obviously used a template.
“Seeing the telltale ‘ABC School – Sometown, NY’ on a resume definitely sends that candidate directly into the trash,” Simon said.
Moral of the story: Pay attention to the details. Proofread your resume, then have your mom, local grocer or stranger on a bus give it a look before you fire it off into cyberspace.
3. Artificial Accolade
Consultant Barry Maher received a resume that boasted that the applicant had won something called the “Executive Merit Award.” The problem was, no one at the guy’s former company had heard of the award.
“He simply replied that it was probably because after he’d won it three years in a row, the company retired the reward in his honor,” Maher said.
Moral of the story: Real accomplishments are impressive; fake ones, not so much. So don’t lie on your resume. It seldom turns out well. Oh, and an embellishment is just a lie by another name.
4. Unfortunate Upload
Vanessa Hojda, a York psychology student in Canada, thought she was sending her resume to a prospective employer via email. What she really sent was a photo of a wild-eyed Nic Cage, causing her job search to go viral.
Moral of the story: Again, pay attention to the details so you only send what you intend to send. When you save your resume, give it a name that’s easy to identify.
5. You Know Too Much
There was a time when we would have said you could never do too much research for a prospective job. That was before we talked to Steve Jones, VP of programing for Newcap Radio.
“[A job candidate] knew my wife’s maiden name, and the names of my kids,” Jones said. “He referenced not only things that I had accomplished in my career, but family events that he should have no knowledge of. Using social media, he had gone deep and done his research.”
Moral of the story: Research is good, but stalking is not. Focus more on the industry, the company and its competition than on the actual hiring manager’s personal life. (That means no rummaging through his trash cans.)
Have you made any resume blunders that you can (finally) laugh about?
Luke Roney is the content guy at CareerBliss, an online community dedicated to helping people find happiness at every stage of their careers.