Resume Mistakes

9 Resume Mistakes that Recruiters Hate!

Resume Mistakes

Recently I did the calculations of how many resumes I’ve looked at over the years, and having been a recruiter for 15 years, I realized I’ve reviewed over two million resumes. Sound like a lot? It is, and as a result, recruiters get fast at looking at them and finding the good ones. So, how much time do I spend looking at each resume? Well in 2012, The Ladders published a survey of recruiters over a six-week period and they concluded that recruiters spend on average six seconds reviewing a resume, according to the The Ladders Eye Tracking Study, and while that seems unbelievable, when I consider the quantity of resumes I see, compared with the number of positions I’m recruiting for at any given time, I realized I move through them quickly and six seconds may be accurate.

So, to make sure your resume gets a longer look, avoid some commonly made mistakes that recruiters hate. Here’s a list of the most common mistakes.

1. Overcrowded resumes and small print are too boring to bother with.

Formatting is important, include a lot of white space, so your resume is easy to read on a computer. Small print, unusual formatting, and a lot of text lands your resume in the discard pile quickly.

And for corporate, technology and business roles, use a straightforward chronological resume. Creative businesses and professionals prefer a more creative resume and academia prefers a less expressive resume than the business format. Adjust accordingly.

2. Functional resumes don’t hide anything.

Recruiters are seasoned readers of resumes and they know why you’re using a functional resume, because you don’t have recent relevant skills or you have an employment gap, so why do it? It’s a big red flag that you’re hiding something. Instead, use a chronological resume because first, it’s easier and faster to read and second, it will get a longer look right from the start. If your relevant skills aren’t reflected in a recent role, then include relevant skills that you have used recently in your accomplishments at your jobs, even if they weren’t essential to your role. It may not be a perfect solution for the role you want, but these additional skills demonstrate your job may not have been a perfect fit for this job, but you may be. And, if you have employment gaps, be transparent – after all, no one is perfect. But include what you’ve been doing during the gap with volunteer activities, education, or provide an explanation such as ‘personal leave, medical leave, or family leave of absence’.

3. Objective statements are ‘old school’.

Objective statements are challenging to write, and can sometimes hurt your chances of being a contender for a job you want if your objective statement doesn’t match what the company is looking for. I’ve seen individuals include an objective statement that says, ‘Seeking a large stable organization to grow with’, and then sent it to a small start-up that’s in constant change. If I like their background, sometimes the hiring manager kills their chances, just because of the limiting objective statement.

4. Summaries that don’t tell anything about you fall flat.

Summaries should include your strengths, with statements such as ‘takes initiative’ or ‘motivated’ or ‘analytical’. And should also include work strengths, such as ‘agent of change’ or ‘delivers results’. Companies don’t want to know just what you’ve done, but want a glimpse into who you are.

5. Resumes with no bullet points, too many bullet points, or ALL bullet points, are pointless.

Resume Mistakes Use bullet points to highlight your accomplishments, not your job responsibilities. Responsibilities are ‘what’ they hired you for, basically your job description. But what you ‘actually’ did on the job, anything you did that was special or unique, well that’s your accomplishments – from the time you stayed late to insure a project was done well and met a tight deadline, to a period or year where you were the top performer on a sales team. Or maybe you found errors in 13% of the data you reviewed, or saved the company 7% for an idea you implemented. These are the bullet points recruiters and hiring managers want to see. Don’t waste your time and everyone else’s with useless bullet points that just reiterate your job description.

6. Too many jobs and too much information gets boring in less than 6 seconds.

Focus your resume on the roles you’ve had that are relevant, keeping non-relevant positions to a minimum. And don’t include older positions if you’ve worked more than ten years. Your resume is an advertisement of you, not an application, so it doesn’t need to include everything. And no one wants to read your entire career history. If they’re interested in what they see on the resume, they can learn more once they meet you.

7. Resumes that are too broad feel like a waste of time to read.

Individualize your resume by creating three or four that will fit specific jobs. Remember the recruiter is reviewing as many as 500 resumes for the position you want, so if your resume is relevant, you’re more likely to be asked to interview.

8. ‘References are available upon request’…we know that, so skip it.


9. Buzzwords and industry jargon make your resume difficult to read.

Use jargon only when you absolutely must. If you’re in an industry that has specific jargon and have transferable skills to another industry, using industry jargon, moves your resume to the ‘not considered’ pile quickly, when you may be a strong candidate. But rephrasing industry specific statements to more generic statements will inspire interest for the recruiter to read on.

Consider why recruiters read resumes so quickly, they’re working on behalf of the hiring manager and the company, and know what specific skills or traits they are looking for, so the more compelling you can make your resume, the more likely you’ll stand out from the others. And if you took the time to apply for a position, and now want the recruiter and manager to take the time to read your resume, then take the time to draft a resume they want to read.

If your resume doesn’t entice the recruiter to continue to read, then you probably weren’t a fit for the role or the company. A good resume motivates the recruiter and the hiring manager to meet you, so it’s time well spent.


Why Do I Have to Sell Myself in My Resume?

Hiring managers get dozens, if not hundreds of resumes from possible candidates. Strong resumes that grab the reader’s attention quickly and encourage them to read further improve a solid candidate being considered for the roles they want. Most of us don’t like to brag or ‘sell’ ourselves, but today it’s critical to insure you stand out from the crowd. If your resume doesn’t stand out, you may never get the opportunity to be considered further.

So, how do you make your resume stand out?

Successful Resumes

Understanding the fundamentals of how people read and review resumes will give you a head start in creating a strong resume.

Hiring managers and recruiters frequently review dozens of resumes. Because resumes aren’t the most interesting reading, most people want to review them as efficiently as they can to find the best candidate. As a result, if your resume is strong starting in the first half page of your resume, you’ll encourage the reader to read on.

To make your resume compelling right from the start you want to make your resume easy to read, with enough white space on the resume so the reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed as they begin to consider you as a candidate.

When you include a professional summary near the beginning, incorporating information that provides your business strengths, as well as your personal strengths you convey what you’ll be like on the job and as a member of the team. Are you a strategic thinker, a good problem solver, creative? Make sure you include some positive statements about your personal strengths.

In the body of your resume highlight your accomplishments and contributions. Many people feel they did ‘what was expected’ on the job, and don’t realize they made contributions such as a special project they took the lead on or the time they solved a problem implementing a process improvement or practice that improved outcomes. Think hard about even the smallest contributions you’ve made.

Historically resumes included statements that frequently started with…

Successful Resume Writing

Responsible for…

Use more compelling action verbs that catch attention. Start statements with an action verb since it’s easier for the hiring manager to identify what your actual contribution was.

Let’s consider a few accomplishments and contributions and compelling action verbs to highlight them.

Ex: You were the manager of a team. Try using verbs like cultivated, fostered, inspired, mentored, motivated, or aligned to highlight traits that differentiated you as a manager.

Ex: You worked in customer service. Try verbs such as advised, resolved, improved, or informed.

Ex: You met your goals, either revenue or a specific metric. Try adding verbs like surpassed, demonstrated, accomplished, or attained to differentiate your accomplishment.

Ex: You wrote documents or processes. You might want to use verbs like authored, composed, promoted, created, or reviewed.

Ex: You led a project team. Add verbs such as headed, organized, executed, or oversaw to catch the hiring manager’s attention more quickly.

As you’re considering what to include, focus on times when you increased revenue or saved the company time or money. Bottom line, accomplishments focused on savings or increased revenue are more significant.

Your resume and career history will make a bigger impact if you use dynamic action verbs to highlight your contributions and accomplishments. Verbs that are overused and anemic will diminish what you’ve done and may not get you to the next step. Using strong compelling words in your resume can compel the hiring manager to invite you to interview.

A strong resume is the beginning of a successful job search.

For more information about opportunities or next steps, check out our employment opportunities or contact us!


How Do You…A Healthcare Professional, Handle Gaps In Your Resume?

You took time out from your work, now you’re wondering…how do I explain it. Will it hurt my ability to get another job, much less a job I want?

Let’s start with the first question:

How do you explain a gap in your resume?

Foremost, transparency from the start is highly recommended. Be honest. But, don’t pour out your whole story and explanation. That information should only be passed along to close friends and family. If you aren’t prepared and don’t have your elevator story set, you could end up having your absence hurt your chances of getting that job.

Start by preparing, planning what you’ll say, what your story will be and begin with an honest, concise explanation of what happened.


  1. Laid off: You were laid off. If others were laid off at the same employer, include it. If no one else was laid off, you need a plausible explanation why it happened to you. It may be the number of patients were declining, or they needed to reduce everyone’s hours, or they lost funding. But, what if you had difficulty learning something specific? Explain why, and how you’ve overcome the challenge. Don’t expect to avoid it. You’ll need to tackle it head on. If it was due to differences with management, state that, but concisely, and then add information such as the circumstances, the result, and what you’ve learned. Explain how it’s made you a better professional. And be prepared with this information before you start applying for any jobs.
  2. Family illness: Whether it was you, a family member or parent, explain the reason concisely and add what you learned throughout that will benefit you in the future. You don’t need to reveal who was ill, what the illness was, for how long, or what support you provided, and if it was you, you don’t need to tell a future employer. I hate to admit it, but there will always be lingering concerns that you could be at risk for future health issues if you reveal too much.
  3. Raising children: If you took time off to raise a family, everyone will celebrate you, although they may not say it. Your next employer will appreciate your dedication to your family. But you do need to explain it quickly, and explain what you’ve learned while you were not working that would benefit them directly. This could include volunteering at a professional organization (even if you just started recently), any additional learning or training you received, or a skill you learned while at home. A valuable skill may be as simple as ‘I learned how to handle conflict with others, because of an experience I had and what I learned from it.’ If it’s a skill an employer will value, it’s likely a skill that will provide reception of both your time off and your new skill. Lastly, confirm that you’re ready to return to work and have all the reasons you took time off resolved. Be swift and definite with this statement. Then move on. Most employers will too, and they’ll appreciate your family values.
  4. Business venture: You had an opportunity to go after a dream, but it didn’t work out. Explain it briefly, and absolutely guarantee employers you won’t be returning to it, you’re committed to this career now, or if it’s still ongoing, that your participation there is minimal.
  5. Return to school: This is likely the easiest to explain because you just need to say it, and explain what you learned that will benefit your employer in the future. Again, be succinct.

Where do you begin to tell people you’ve had a gap?

Right from the start…on your resume is best. Use a chronological resume and put it on there. We can’t say it enough, transparency, transparency, transparency. You can state it like this on your resume:

Family Leave (2015 to 1/2017)
Took time off support a family member. Or, if it was you, state ‘Personal Reasons’ as your title, then don’t give a reason here, but do take classes or do some volunteering before you start applying for a job.)

  • Continuing education classes you took.
  • Research you did during this period.
  • Volunteering you did during this period.

Whatever the reason there’s a gap, deal with it quickly, be honest and transparent. Your values and ethics are always being considered – and a gap in employment often reveals your character, values and ethics. The life choices we make reveal a person’s substance.

For more information about opportunities or next steps, check out our employment opportunities or contact us!