The Most Ridiculous Resume Mistakes That Make Employers Cringe (and Keep You from Getting Hired)

Here’s a tip, eager job seekers: A detailed history of all the times you’ve been arrested is not the kind of background information employers want to see on your resume. But that’s exactly what one misguided job hunter included when he applied for a job, according to CareerBuilder.

The worst resume gaffes

Businessman Reading Resume On Office Desk

Man looking over a resume. | AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images

The career search website asked 1,138 HR managers about the strangest things they’ve seen on candidates’ resumes. These individuals stood out for all the wrong reasons. Among the head-scratchers:

  • The one-sentence resume. (We’ve heard the advice to keep your resume short, but this seems extreme.)
  • A resume that used a different font type for each sentence.
  • The applicant who included a note on their resume that they didn’t like babies or puppies.
  • A person who said they had “as many marriages as jobs.”
  • The person who listed 40 jobs in one year.
  • The 22-year-old who claimed to have three different degrees. (Unless you’re Doogie Howser, this seems unlikely.)
  • The person who mistakenly sent a credit application for an apartment rather than their resume.

Those gaffes are some of the more extreme resume errors that hiring managers have seen. But even small mistakes can send your application to the trash. Here’s the percent of HR pros who said they’d wouldn’t hire a candidate if they received a resume with the following:

  • Typos or poor grammar: 77%
  • Unprofessional email address: 35%
  • No evidence of quantifiable results: 34%
  • Long paragraphs of text: 25%
  • Generic resume: 18%
  • More than two pages: 17%
  • No attached cover letter: 10%

Other resume deal breakers? Using annoying buzzwords, forgetting to include contact information, an overly elaborate design, and including a headshot, according to a survey of hiring managers and human resources executives conducted earlier in 2018 by TopResume. Including irrelevant information, like your hobbies, age, or marital status, is also a no-no.

The worst resume mistake you can make

Seventy-five percent of HR managers CareerBuilder surveyed also said they’d caught an applicant lying on a resume.

“The problem with lying on your resume is that the odds of getting caught are high,” Michael Erwin, a senior career advisor for CareerBuilder, said. “It’s human nature to be tempted to exaggerate a little on your resume and suggest that you have more skills or greater experience than you really do. However, the short-term gains you might make in landing the job through deception can have long-term consequences that may do serious damage to your career.”

It’s not just your resume that you need to worry about, either. A separate CareerBuilder survey found that 70% of employers are checking up on potential employees on social media, and more than half of them have found information that caused them not to hire a person. Among the red flags:

  • Inappropriate photographs, including pictures of the applicant drinking or using drugs
  • Racist or sexist comments
  • Signs of criminal activity
  • Bad-mouthing a former employer or sharing confidential information
  • Lying about being absent from work
  • An unprofessional screen name
  • Posting too often

Fortunately, resume mistakes are easy to avoid with a little common sense. Aside from proofreading your resume (enlist a detail-oriented friend to help) and tailoring it to a specific job, make sure to focus on accomplishments and quantifiable results, not a boring list of job duties.

“Your resume should be focused on accomplishments and not everyday tasks you were paid to do. No hiring manager is looking to hire someone because they did what they were supposed to do,” the career experts at Zipjob told The Cheat Sheet in 2017. “Quantifying and using strong action verbs can make even a basic responsibility look like an achievement.”

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