Forty-three percent of hiring managers spend less than a minute reviewing a candidate’s resume, the survey found. When they spot a big, eye-catching gaffe, such as clearly fabricated work experience or major typos, it’s virtually guaranteed the applicant won’t move on in the hiring process.
“Your resume is the very first impression that an employer will have of you, and it’s usually the determining factor in whether you move forward to an interview or get rejected on the spot,” HR expert Alison Green wrote in an article for U.S. News & World Report. “That means that it’s crucial to put real energy into getting it right.”
Too-long resumes, vague or overly detailed job descriptions, and missing dates are among the biggest resume mistakes Green said she sees job seekers make. The 2,153 HR pros CareerBuilder surveyed said they wanted to see resumes that were customized to the job the person was applying for, highlighted the applicant’s skill sets, and included a link to a candidate’s website, online portfolio, or blog.
Of course, the world’s best online portfolio is useless if a typo means the hiring manager can’t find the site. Proofreading errors are a common resume error, but they’re hardly the only dumb mistake job seekers make. Some of those screw-ups are particularly memorable. These are 10 of the worst resume mistakes hiring managers said they’d seen, according to the CareerBuilder survey.
1. Attention-grabbing typos
Job applicants often brag about their attention to detail in a resume or cover letter. If you’re going to do so, make sure you’re actually detail-oriented. One HR pro recalled getting a resume from someone who claimed to have great attention to detail. The only problem? The word attention was misspelled.
2. Awful autocorrect
Career experts tell you to go over your resume with a fine-toothed comb before sending it to any employers, and here’s why. One survey respondent said they’d received a resume where autocorrect had changed a candidate’s last name from “Flin” to “Flintstone.” The candidate’s first name was Freddie. Unfortunately, the job wasn’t for a brontosaurus crane operator.
3. Making the best of a bad situation
People who’ve spent time in prison often find it difficult to find jobs even after they’ve been released. So, you can hardly blame the applicant who decided to put a positive spin on the time he spent incarcerated by saying he’d worked at a federal prison. A background check revealed he’d actually been incarcerated at the prison during the time he said he’d been employed there.
4. A very unique job history
Eager (or desperate) job hunters may sometimes embellish their resume in order to make their experience sound more impressive. But most try to make sure their job history at least sounds plausible. Not so the candidate whose resume mentioned they’d been a prince in another life. No word on whether they included a reference for the past position.
5. Skills better suited to a dating profile
The ability to lead, work as part of a team, communicate clearly, and solve problems are among the skills employers most want to see in applicants, according to a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey. Not on the list of must-have talents? “Taking long walks,” a skill one candidate thought appropriate to include on their resume.
6. Misplaced movie quotes
A creative resume can help a job seeker catch a hiring manager’s eye, or it can send their application straight to the bottom of the pile. It’s not clear whether the candidate who borrowed quotes from Star Wars for their CV was trying to be clever or if they thought plagiarizing one of the most popular films of all time would go unnoticed. Either way, the strategy bombed, according to the HR manager who submitted this blooper to CareerBuilder.
7. The too-truthful candidate
Applicants and HR managers both tend to dance around the salary question during the hiring process. Usually, neither side wants to reveal too much, lest they give up some of their negotiating power. But then there’s the candidate who decided to cut right to the chase, making it clear on his resume that he’d work harder if he was paid more. While it’s true higher wages can encourage people to work harder in certain situations, mentioning money as a motivator right off the bat is unlikely to leave a favorable impression on your would-be employer.
8. The ghostwritten resume
Hiring someone to help write your resume isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Professional resume writers can work with you to better describe your experience and showcase your talents so you’re more likely to get the job you want. If you’ve gotten help crafting the perfect resume, however, there’s no reason to draw attention to it. And you definitely don’t want to be like the candidate who included the following note at the end of their resume: “I didn’t really fill this out, someone did it for me.”
9. Weird templates
Formatting a resume is a pain in the you-know-what, so applicants can certainly be forgiven for turning to ready-made templates for a little help. But if you must rely on a template, make sure it’s a professional one. One HR manager CareerBuilder surveyed had been contacted by someone who’d used a resume template with cats in the corners. Unless you’re applying for a job at the animal shelter (and probably not even then), it’s best to opt for a resume free of whimsical feline illustrations.
10. Unhealthy hobbies
Career experts disagree on whether you should include your hobbies on your resume or leave them off. If you do decide to mention your extracurricular activities, make sure they’re actually hobbies, not addictions. One candidate included “smoking” under the hobbies section of their resume. Not only is such information irrelevant, it could cost you the job. In 21 states, it’s legal for employers to refuse to hire you just because you smoke, according to Workplace Fairness.