Dirty Dozen Biggest Resume Mistakes: Separating the Bad Resumes from the Good

(As Featured in the Upcoming Book Resumes from Heaven)

12. Using Distracting Fonts, Formatting, Or Graphics
The only time art should be included on a resume is if you are applying for a position that involves art or graphics. In all other cases, these trimmings distract, create overly large file sizes, and/or appear on the hiring manager's computer screen in a way that you did not intend.

See Chapter 28, “Graphics from Hell”

11. Taking An Overly Informal, Conversational Tone
The world of email and internet blogs has created an overly conversational tone in the world's correspondence. When writing to your prospective employer - whether it's in email, the cover letter, or the resume itself - never let your guard down and take an overly conversational tone. Remain professional at all times - all interactions, every time. You can let your hair down after you get the job.

See Chapter 5, “Problematic Public Personas”
See Chapter 15, “Sounding Off: Voice Mails from Hell”
See Chapter 14, “Informal Banter”

10. Including Your Salary Requirements And/Or History
It gives the impression that you are more interested in money than the job itself. You could exclude yourself from consideration by offering salary information that is too high - or too low.

See Chapter 8, “Blown Away By My Own Abilities”

9. Dissing Your Past Or Present Employers Or Colleagues
This is a surprisingly common mistake. When you bash others, it only makes you look bad, and that you're either difficult to work with and/or manage.

See Chapter 4, “Questionable References”
See Chapter 11, “Disgruntled Creators”
See Chapter 19, “Warriors and Alpha Dogs”

8. Submitting A Resume That Is More Than Three Pages Long
It is a very rare instance that a resume more than three pages is acceptable. Customize your resume to the job you're applying for, and eliminate older, irrelevant work experience. You want to excite the hiring manager, not put her to sleep.

See Chapter 12, “Let Me Be A Little More Specific”

7. Including Hobbies And Personal Interests Of Any Sort
Unless they are directly related to the job you are applying for, or demonstrate a skill that the prospective employer may find interesting, leave hobbies and personal interests off your resume. They may give the hiring manager the impression that you have tastes that are too exotic (or even dangerous!), put you in direct opposition to the values of the hiring manager (if, for example, you spend your weekends protesting at family planning clinics), or give the impression that you would rather be doing something other than getting your work done at the office.

See Chapter 1, “Hobbies and Other Strange Pursuits”
See Chapter 2, “TMI (Too Much Information)”

6. Listing Reasons For Leaving Your Current And Past Jobs
This is a topic best left for the job interview, if asked. You want to prepare your answer to this question, not bad-mouthing anybody. Use your answer as an opportunity to put yourself in a positive light, for example, by articulating career goals that you can’t meet at your current company.

See Chapter 4, “Questionable References”

5. Dropping Names
Don't mention celebrities, politicians, or business moguls unless you reported directly to them, or they were a direct collaborator on a project. And please, don't mention your mother, or use her as a reference.

See Chapter 27, “Let Me Impress You With My Little Black Book”

4. Failing To Catch Typos
Do not rely on spell-check to do this important task for you! For example, spell check will not catch "Extra-Circular Activities" and "Manger, Customer Service." Needless to say, typos are a distraction, and call into question your attention to detail.

See Chapter 13, “Language Gaffes”

3. Lying
We are continually amazed by how frequently we learn about resume lies, and how often we are asked by job seekers if they should lie on their resumes. This is a huge, career-risking mistake. Don't do it. Karma's a mother.

2. Failing To Attach A Cover Letter To Your Resume
A cover letter is your opportunity to introduce yourself, demonstrate your knowledge of the company at which you are applying, and establish cohesiveness to your career development. Missing this opportunity altogether, or attaching a generic cover letter, looks lazy.

See Chapter 10, “Cover Letters: Generally Bad, Weird”

1. Failing To Customize Your Resume To The Position You Are Applying For
While we never recommend embellishing your resume, we do recommend customizing it to the exact job requirements. Read the job description and match your skills to each element. If you don’t take the extra effort to do this, remember that your job search competitors will!

Editor’s Note: The chapter references cited in this piece refer to chapters from Resumes from Hell. Purchase Resumes from Hell here.