Are you making these mistakes on your resume?

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10) Using a cutesy email account to send the CV

Any email arriving from snookums12 or bigboy69 that gets through the spam filter will get caught by the human filter before being dumped in the trash filter. Email from billgates1 is probably not going to help at Microsoft either.

9) Mentioning low grades or test scores

If you had problems in a course, why mention it at all? You're too honest. Emphasize the positive and achievements you can be proud of.

8) Forgetting ineffective information on your CV

…only to have it surprise you in the subsequent interviews, such as alternative musical tastes (which I have), esoteric hobbies (I would get asked about mixology too much) or even a past job experience unrelated for the position at hand. Every detail you leave on your CV should have a purpose or not be there.

7) Avoid sending your CV as an email attachment

Don't do this unless requested specifically in a job posting. Instead, put the CV text directly into the email itself. In this age of spam and viruses, many emails are wrongly flagged as dangerous and are quarantined from their destination, taking your hard work and hopes with them. Besides, the recipient can always ask you for a different format after the fact, and will. Some people think otherwise.

6) Using friends as references

This is especially funny when your friends do it also and everyone applies to the same company. You're better off keeping your references in a separate document anyway.

5) Saying why you left

“Don't include reasons why you are leaving your current employer or why you may have already left,” says Tracy P. Miller of TearTaylor's Career Corner. However, be prepared for the question if it comes up in the interview and ‘the pay was too low' is not a good answer even if it may be true.

4) Using non-traditional fonts or symbols

This is especially relevant when applying internationally. The resume recipient's computer may not be equipped to handle these symbols, and you're overly optimistic if you think that person is going to understand why your CV looks like garbage on their screen. They'll reject you as quickly as they can confirm a file deletion (guess which). Another reason is that resume-search or -scanning software may also have a hard time deciphering this special text, rendering your CV a waste of space in a company's candidate database.

20D orange cone on white background3) Writing with expressions that only made sense at a past job

Only a handful of people are going to understand when I say that I could be counted on to quickly knock out hotfixes from Racine while the site was gone fishin', and unless you're applying for an internal promotion, your own cultural siblings are unlikely to be on your upcoming list of interviewers. Employers are making efforts to speak simply, and so should you.

2) Breaking the law

Seriously. For example, in Canada it's illegal for an interviewer to ask about marital status, sexual orientation, race or age so save precious page space by keeping that information to yourself.

1) Lying

This is so obviously a bad idea, it boggles the mind that people continue to lie on their resumes all the time. Admittedly, in my experience few companies do their homework and verify final candidates' claims on their CVs with even a single phone call to a past employer, which is perhaps the reason people keep trying. Just don't do it.

Bonus Mistake

0) Leaving text for video

This pseudo-cool Web2.0 trend of performing your CV on camera continues to annoy recruiters. Would you want to hire someone that you feel has wasted your time before they even walked in the door? Keep the video camera for family events and catching people doing dumb things.

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If you liked this article, you might also want to read about Job Search Mistakes I’ve Made.

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. josh

    Good list.
    In Israel, thankfully (IMO), most people use the same bland CV template. I think that human resources also likes the simple standard version since it saves time fishing for details.
    But a disadavantage is that many people seem to think that part of this template is the need to have personal info like: age, identity card number, marital status, date of aliya (unless relevant), etc…

    You might be proud of your two kids, or that you do miluim, but it takes up valuable space, and risks having a prejudiced recruiter reject the CV without even reading it.

  2. JacobShare

    In theory a standard CV template makes like easier for everyone; candidates have less CV writing to do and the recruiters can more easily compare CVs visually or via CV-scanning software.

    However you make a good point, josh. If the standard template is flawed, some of those benefits fall to the wayside. Also, a standard CV makes it much harder for candidates to stand out without resorting to extreme measures like neon-colored paper.

  3. Todd Porter

    Resumes are more like Art than Science. One person will tell you to change something, and the next person will suggest you change it back. Having said that there are basics that are hard to argue with and you’ve hit 10 here.

    I suggest to individuals that they, put themselves in the shoes of the person looking at your resume.

    That person normally takes no more than 5 to 10 seconds, to read/scan the information. They are looking for something that catches their eye or some reason to throw it out.

    If it passes that filter, they then might give it the 30 – 60 second, once over. If it makes that cut, it goes in the pile of ‘maybe’.

    So, the trick is like fishing, put the bait on the hook that will get their attention.

    Rule 1 – Important info up front

    Rule 2 – Put the information in the resume that the will ‘really’ be interested in.

    Rule 3 – Put the information that is relevant. (something that seems important to you, might not be to the next guy)

    Rule 4 – Craft the resume for the position / opportunity, if at all possible. (no blasting the resume)

    Rule 4.1 – Post reluctantly to Job Boards, you lose control of your resume and I believe it shrinks your value. It is the easiest way to get your resume out but when was the last time the easy way was the best?

    Rule 5 – Remember 99% (my calculation) of people reviewing resumes have developed ADD (attention deficit disorder) and have a hard time focusing.

    Hope this helps,
    Todd Porter
    H.T. PROF Executive Search
    (770) 420-7440

  4. JacobShare

    Hi Todd,
    Thanks for this succinct insider’s view of the process, it’s very helpful.

    I believe you on Rule 5; it’s easy to imagine that seeing so many resumes day in and day out can be mind-numbing and that’s usually after they’ve been filtered, I know. At the same time, it takes perseverance for job seekers to find the right balance in spending time customizing each CV they send out versus getting a return on that effort.

    I think that your Rule 4 is sort of an example of Mistake 3, no? Does ‘blasting the resume’ mean sending the same version to many companies i.e. fire-and-forget?

    Good point about the job boards. They’re also mind-numbing to go through, not updated often and filled with spam. A waste of time apart from a few rare exceptions.

  5. Todd Porter

    “blasting the resume” is indeed sending the same resume to everyone.

    Todd Porter

  6. Moshe

    I have to disagree with Todd on the email blasting issue.
    I would use caution and not just post it everywhere, but there are a few places where it is useful: sites where you can do a search based on a position you are looking for and send directly (usually to a recipient who’s name and/or email address is screened from you) from within the site. It is a real waste of time to restructure or rewrite your CV every time you send it out. It also doesn’t hurt for your CV to be on file with headhunters, even when you have a job, because this is how you get better job offers and bargaining chips to better your current position when negotiating time comes around.

  7. Jacob Share

    Moshe, I think Todd means ‘indiscriminate’ email blasting. I certainly wouldn’t recommend rewriting a CV from scratch every time. However, when applying directly to a company and not via a headhunter or recruiter, it is a good idea to customize the CV to tie-in closer to the company’s job listing.

    You make an excellent point about “allowing” companies to keep your CV on file. I’ve known companies to call candidates years after the fact, and that can easily turn into a very pleasant surprise.

  8. Todd Porter

    Amazing how some of these posts have life long after they were originally posted.

    Jacob is correct in saying “indiscriminate” email blasting. (note: we’re seeing more and more emails where we are blind copied. These resumes are dumped into our huge database, without being looked at. I would also assume few recruiters have time to look at them.)

    Todd Porter

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  11. The New Shmoo

    Why can’t anyone post this kind of goes-without-saying advice without wanking themselves off while they type?

    There are people out there to whom the CV faux-pas don’t readily occur – but that’s no reason at all to come off like a smug wanker.

    Try being helpful without imposing your irritating personality on teh reader.


    1. Jacob Share

      The New Shmoo- you know what? After rereading this article for the first time in a few years, it does seem a bit obnoxious. So I updated it.

  12. josh

    A troll looking for a job?

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