What Recruiters Are Saying About Resumes
By J. Michael Worthington, Jr.

Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Job Seeking Realities:

A resume is not intended to land you a job, but to get a prospective employer interested enough to contact you. Your resume is the primary marketing tool that advertises who you are and what you can do. If you have not received much response, the reason may be that your resume is inadequate as a marketing tool.

The age of Internet Recruiting has altered the fundamental nature of the job search. The widespread popularity of Internet Job Boards inundates HR Professionals with hundreds of relevant and irrelevant resumes for each job posting. This mismatched pool of resumes must be paired down to a manageable number that closely matches the job requirements. Commonly, the individual screening these resumes has little knowledge of your industry or background, so it is imperative that your resume effectively communicates your skills.

Recently ResumeDoctor undertook the immense project of interviewing several hundred recruiters/headhunters to find out what they are saying about resumes. These recruiters stemmed from varied specialties and industries throughout the US and Canada, (Engineering, Information Technology, Sales and Marketing, Executive, Biotech, Healthcare, Administrative, Finance, etc.). ResumeDoctor sought to find out what are the recruiter's likes and dislikes in a resume they receive and what is going to get a resume read by them. Some of the "Pet Peeves" shared will be obvious, while others might surprise a job seeker.

# 20 - Burying or Not Including Important Information in the Resume
# 19 - Gaps in Employment
# 18 - Resumes Written in the 1st or 3rd Person
# 17 - No Easy to Follow Summary
# 16 - Pictures, Graphics or URL Links
# 15 - Resumes not sent as a WORD Attachment
# 14 - Poor Font Choice
# 13 Objectives or Meaningless Introductions
# 12 - Lying or Misleading Information
# 11 - Employer or Industry Information Not Included
# 10 - Personal Info Not Relevant to the Job
# 9 - Candidates Who Apply to Positions They are Unqualified
# 8 - Long Paragraphs
# 7 - Long Resumes
# 6 - Functional Resumes
# 5 - Poor Formatting
# 4 - Incomplete Contact Info
# 3 - Dates Not Included or Inaccurate Dates
# 2 - Too Duty Oriented
# 1 - Spelling Errors, Typos and Poor Grammar

# 20 - Burying or Not Including Important Information in the Resume

Many recruiters shared that candidates often leave off very important and critical experience/information that is pertinent to the job they are seeking. Just as bad is to include this important info, (i.e. holding a Security Clearance or being bi-lingual in Spanish, when it is a requirement of the position), but burying it so deep into the resume the recruiter will not see it. No recruiter has the time to play Sherlock Holmes or guessing games to figure out a candidate's background. Jobseekers must be aware that recruiters receive literally hundreds of resumes a day and spend only about 10 seconds "skimming" through each resume. This is why it is imperative that if a job seeker possesses the requirements of the position, that they GRAB the recruiter's attention IMMEDIATELY with these skills/experience. If not, it reduces the chances that a recruiter will call considerably. The best scenario is to customize each and every resume that is sent out and tailor it to the "hot buttons" that will catch the employer/recruiters attention within 5-10 seconds.

# 19 - Gaps in Employment

Employers are probably going to be a bit more understanding than in the past regarding gaps of employment because of all of the corporate layoffs, reductions, etc. However, holes or gaps in dates in a resume will solicit questions from employers and recruiters alike, so be prepared to answer. Even if you took a sabbatical for personal reasons, it is a good idea to state such.

# 18 - Resumes Written in the 1st or 3rd Person

A resume should not be written in the first person. A resume is a marketing piece and business correspondence. No recruiter or future employer wants to read a resume full of "I did this and I did that..." Furthermore, writing a resume in the first person often leads to it becoming too verbose.

Writing a resume in the third person was also slated a major "pet peeve" among many recruiters. There is no absolutely no reason for such. Once again, a resume is simply a quick marketing piece about the job seeker's background and how it matches the requirements of the position. It is not a biography for a book jacket cover. For example: "Mr. Smith is an excellent recruiter, who has placed many Architects..." Recruiter Trey Cameron of the Cameron Craig Group shared the following comment, "At least make it sound like you actually wrote the resume yourself. I don't care how experienced or senior level you are."

# 17 - No Easy to Follow Summary

Candidates have to realize that recruiters receive literally hundreds and hundreds of resumes per week. A resume has to GRAB the reader from the get go. Recruiters told us that if a resume does not convey a match within 10 seconds, they move to the next candidate. An effective summary section will help the recruiter identify if the job seeker is a viable candidate for the position quicker. This summary section can be customized to the position you are applying.
For candidates of a technical nature, it is imperative that a Technical Summary is also compiled. Make sure that these technical skills are clearly laid out and current. When creating this tech summary, be careful not to create a long list of "alphabet soup" no one will ever read or understand.

# 16 - Pictures, Graphics or URL Links

Unless you are a super model or are applying to a position such as an actor or television personality that might require a "headshot," there is absolutely no need to include your picture. A candidate should be judged based on their skills, education and work history, not race, sex, age, etc. Providing a picture only opens up problems. Secondly, pictures are next to impossible to download into recruiter and HRIS systems. In addition, sending a picture only increases the file size and download time of your resume. Remember, a candidate only has about 10 seconds to grab the recruiter, don't waste these precious seconds for a picture to download.

Much the same goes for graphics and endless URL links. Including graphics only causes download time to increase and often makes a resume more difficult to read on a computer screen. Furthermore, because of the fear of computer viruses, many recruiting departments are set up not to accept graphics, pictures, downloadable files, etc. Your resume in that case will just be deleted before it is even opened. In the case of URL links, they just clutter up your resume and no recruiter will ever spend time "clicking" on these links. Give the recruiter the facts. Like what was mentioned in Pet Peeve # 20 last week, no recruiter has the time to play Sherlock Holmes or guessing games to figure out a candidate's background.

# 15 - Resumes not sent as a WORD Attachment

Unless specifically requested otherwise, your resume should be sent as a Word Attachment. Word is the standard in business correspondence. Do not send your resume as a PDF, Mac file, etc. As mentioned in previous weeks, candidates have to be aware that recruiters receive literally hundreds upon hundreds of resumes per week. A recruiter simply does do not have time to download and convert special files. PDF files require a much longer download time and special software. In addition, do not send your resume in a ZIP file. Not only does a recruiter not want to deal with going through the extra step of opening a resume, but also ZIP files are designed for long documents. No resume should be 60 pages long period. Furthermore, ZIP files can contain viruses that cannot be detected in the email body message. Savvy recruiters will often just delete the email message as to not risk contaminating their system.

Unless you are a graphic designer or multi-media developer, no recruiter will spend time going to your "homepage" to download your resume. Even if you are a graphic designer, you still need a Word attachment resume. So if you are an accountant, engineer, etc. do not try to be fancy, because no recruiter has the time or desire to call up homepage.

Another top reason for avoiding formats other than Word or a plain text file is that it becomes increasingly more difficult to download into many HR and recruiting systems. Often a recruiter will not have a job for you today. If they cannot enter your resume into their recruiting system, they will be unable to match your resume with any positions that do become available. This also goes for mailed and faxed resumes. Unless specifically requested otherwise, recruiters are looking for easy to open Word Attachments.

Recruiter TIP ... many recruiters shared with us that it is always a good idea to name your Word Attachment "Smith, John Resume". Recruiters have no time to "guess" the author of the attachment. Many recruiters are still organizing resumes sent to them in one folder, so already providing the recruiter with your resume with an easy to follow document name will make your resume easier to find.

# 14 - Poor Font Choice

When creating your Word Attachment resume, keep your font simple and easy to read on a computer screen. Be kind to your reader. Do not use italics or extremely difficult to read fonts like Edwardian Script. Font size is just as important as style. 8-point fonts are too small to read, even for Superman.

Microsoft seems to have settled on 10 point Arial as their default font in most of their applications. People are accustomed to reading such on their computer screen. For headings, recruiters shared that 12-point bolded is the best choice.

Recruiters told us that that second best choice is Times Roman as every newspaper and magazine is printing with such. Once again, people's eyes are accustomed to reading text in this font. However, 10-point Times Roman, (unlike Arial), is too small for a computer screen. It is recommended if you choose Times Roman, use 11 or 12 point. If a resume is difficult to read, a recruiter will simply move onto the next one.

# 13 Objectives or Meaningless Introductions

According to recruiter Gayla Moore of Taylor Recruiting in Austin, TX, "A general objective is a good way to have your resume tossed out immediately. A candidate who states they want to be with a great company who values its employees... well, guess what? Everyone wants that!!"
Instead of an Objective that can pigeonhole your focus too narrowly or an introduction that adds nothing to your background, use this top piece of real estate to really SELL yourself, by creating a HEADLINE. Don't be shy. Tell them who you are and what you do immediately. Come up with one powerful sentence or phrase to "grab" your reader. Think of this like a headline to a major front-page news story ... PATS UPSET RAMS IN SUPERBOWL. What is going to grab that reader to want to read further? For instance:

Senior-Level Health and Safety Manager with Extensive Experience Working with FDA Regulations in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Arena.

Recruiter Tip: This headline can be customized to match the job description and "hot-buttons" of the employer or recruiter.

# 12 - Lying or Misleading Information

We all know the temptation is there to beef up your background by stretching the truth here and there to land that job. BEWARE! It is becoming more commonplace for companies to do extensive background and reference checks on a candidate's background prior to hiring. Also, companies are demanding that their vendor recruiters do more extensive background checks. The chances of being caught are forever increasing.

Recruiters stated the most common misleading information being put on resumes is:

  • Inflated titles
  • Inaccurate dates to cover up job hopping or gaps of employment
  • 1/2 finished degrees, inflated education or "purchased" degrees that do not mean anything
  • Inflated salaries
  • Inflated accomplishments
  • Out and out lies in regards to specific roles and duties

Connecticut recruiter, Tom Mahon shared this story, "One bonehead forgot we had worked together a few years earlier (I still had his old resume) and sent me a new resume where every title was upgraded. His former Employers apparently promoted him because he was doing such a great job at his current Employer."

If you are in sales, don't be surprised if an employer will ask to see your W2's to verify your sales income before being hired. So in a nutshell, recruiters are "hip" to what is going on. Present your resume accordingly, be TRUTHFUL.

# 11 - Employer or Industry Information Not Included

According to executive search recruiter Terry Cantrell of Panama City, Florida, "People often try to write a resume so generic that a reader has no idea what industry the candidate comes from. Did they manufacture fertilizer, package cow chips, cook and distribute potato chips or assemble computer chips? Often I have no idea what 'Acme' sells, services, imports or manufactures. I cannot take the time to filter through a thousand resumes to see what and where their real network is. I am usually looking for a reason to exclude resumes, not a reason to include them."

Kelly Persichetti of the Persichetti Group adds, "I always tell candidates to think about WHO the initial receiving audience is of your resume. With this in mind, many times one has to be more explicit with their resume. Believe it or not, many recipients wouldn't even know if the resume they were looking at was even in their own industry!"

It is suggested that your resume specifically state the type of industry, revenues, public or private in the body of the resume in or beneath the specific company. This will help the reader determine if it's a direct industry OR an ancillary industry.

Recruiter Tip: Another idea is to bullet-point in your summary the specific industry experience the recruiter or hiring manager is seeking. For instance:

· Extensive Internal Audit Experience in the Healthcare industry.

# 10 - Personal Info Not Relevant to the Job

Not only is including personal info that is unrelated to the job a waste of space, but it can actually hurt you. You never want to include information that could be viewed in the wrong way or open up even the slightest temptation for prejudice or misinterpretation. Recruiters do not need to know your age, height, weight, martial status, sexual orientation, religious or political affiliations, or even about your hobbies. They are trying to fill an open job requisition, not match you for a blind date.

There are times when there will be exceptions. For example: If you were applying for a position as a computer programmer at Burton Snowboards, and your hobby happens to be snowboarding, then definitely include this related information. Your hobby in this case offers value to the potential employer and will work as a benefit to you. Your familiarity with the snowboarding lifestyle and industry could help to open the door for that all-important first interview.

One recruiter shared with us that he recently received a resume from a candidate who included their shoe size. Another recruiter also sent us a story about a candidate who included his dead daughter's bio on his resume. Needless to say, this info has no place on a resume. Your resume is your personal selling tool and should be clear of any and all non-related information.

# 9 - Candidates Who Apply to Positions They are Unqualified

In order to gain experience in an area, you need to start out somewhere, and recruiters understand this. However, recruiters are buried up to their eyeballs in resumes. Recruiters do not have time to sort through hundreds of resumes that are in no way a match for the requirements they are trying to fill. Steve Kendall of Management Recruiters of Atlanta West shares the following comment, "When someone submits an obviously unqualified resume, the person receiving it resents them wasting their time. It also delays the consideration of other applicants who ARE qualified. This resentment doesn't help start a good relationship with that recruiter." Make sure to read the job description. If the requirements are, "must have US citizenship and ability to obtain top security clearance," do not submit your resume to this position if you require H1 sponsorship.

Steve further adds, "All recruiters receive unsolicited resumes. If you are from the same profession or industry as a job posting, and do not fit that particular job, your background may fit other current or future jobs that will be worked on by that recruiter. Sending your information to them makes sense, however, don't try to pretend that you are qualified for a job when you are not."

Jennifer Baker of Inter*Link Technology Solutions in Daytona Beach, FL added, "Candidates who may not have direct experience in a particular area may still be a good match, however, it is this group of candidates who need to go the extra mile when presenting their resumes. Tell the recruiter in specific terms why your background makes you a good fit for this job. Otherwise, the recruiter is going to be puzzled as to why you have sent your resume."

Recruiter Tip: Phil Dubois of Pride in Personnel in Markaham, Ontario offered this advice, "My initial reaction, (receiving resumes from unqualified candidates), is negative. The easiest remedy is to provide a simple introductory statement 'while my qualifications do not match your requirements, please accept the attached for your files in anticipation of future, suitable opportunities'".

# 8 - Long Paragraphs

Recruiters want a résumé's details to be short, concise and to the point. No recruiter has the time to read long paragraphs, which look like a narrative out of War and Peace. Mark King of MRI Atlanta made this statement, "In today's world, recruiters and hiring managers want/need bullets, quick access to information and experience, not drawn out sentences to describe job responsibilities."

ResumeDoctor historically has preached that a candidate only has 20 seconds to grab a recruiter's attention. However, in the process of interviewing the many hundreds of recruiters for this forum, it appears the consensus is more likely less than 10 seconds.

Make sure you quickly get to the "meat" of what you are trying to communicate about yourself. Your resume should be easy for the reader to "scan" your text for your skills and accomplishments. Consider using the following formatting techniques:

  • Use blunt, paraphrased bullet-points
  • Use appropriate amounts of "white space" to help guide your reader
Recruiter Tip: Think of a resume as "ad copy." Take a look at the Sunday circulars in the paper. Notice how the ad copy is easy to read and is spread out using key bullet-points to emphasize the criteria consumers are using to make a buying decision. For example, cubic feet of storage space, ice maker, water dispenser, color, side by side doors, price etc. Understand that a resume is only to get you in the door. If you get a call on your resume, it has done its job!! It is now up to you to "connect" with the person you are interviewing with.

# 7 - Long Resumes

A resume should never be more than 2 pages. James Cox, Managing Director at MES Search Company in Smyrna, Georgia told us, "I hate long resumes, meaning any resume over 2 pages long. If a candidate cannot adequately communicate the information in 2 pages or less, there is a problem. Situations that usually contribute to long resumes are; too many jobs; a career that is not focused, an inability to be concise, written communication problems, or something similar. All of which make for an 'UNPLACEABLE' candidate."

No matter how tempting it is to go into detail about the first job you had 25 years ago, don't! Instead, let your resume showcase your most recent accomplishments. Recruiters, (for the most part), are only reviewing the last 5-8 years of your career, 10 tops. A recruiter is not gauging whether you are a viable candidate for that CFO position at a $200M manufacturing firm based on your first accounts payable position out of school 25 years ago.

If you are a recent graduate with limited professional work experience, your resume should be only one page. If you are from academia, but are seeking a position in industry, do not include every publication or journal paper you have ever presented. My record as a recruiter was a 62-page resume/CV, (it got a few laughs here in the office and then went right in the trash). Yes, the general rule in academia is "publish or perish," but recruiters do not care nor understand your paper on "Rab proteins in sphingolipid storage disease cell types." They want to see how your experience can directly fit into the industry and the position they are trying to fill. You can opt to list a few RELEVANT papers at the end of your resume, but it is suggested that you prepare an addendum, which can be presented in the interview stage.

Remember, a resume is a simply just a marketing piece, it must be short, concise and hit the "hot buttons" of the employer.

Recruiter Tip: For employment beyond 10 years ago, create a "Previous Employment" section. You can quickly list your older assignments by simply including title, company and dates. However, if you are applying to a position where a much older assignment is relevant and this experience is not covered by a more recent position, you can opt to elaborate further. You can also opt to include a quick bullet or two about this experience in your general summary so that the reader can see immediately this experience.

# 6 - Functional Resumes

Many recruiters shared with us that a very good way to NOT get your resume read is by sending them what is called a "functional resume" as opposed to a "chronological resume." Denver recruiter Lura Pittman of Fletcher Frost says, "My number one pet peeve is the functional resume. They are worthless and always raise a red flag."

Andrew Roach of Suvaalso Staffing Solutions in Toronto states, "I do not like functional resumes. Why do I have to guess in which roles you acquired these skills? How much actual experience do you have with the listed skills? Is it 3 months or 10 years? I prefer a chronological resume with a list of accomplishments for each position. Show what you did to add value to the company...everyone in the same role should have the same job description. I care what you did that was over and above your required duties."

James Cox adds, "Functional resumes often do not provide the facts -- "when, where, and with what effect." I would estimate that 30-40% of all the resumes that I review, I can not determine what the candidate's responsibilities were, with what company the candidate has worked, over what length of time (meaning month and year), and with what effect (meaning factual, number oriented outcomes that can be easily understood by anyone who knows anything about the candidate's field of work)."

So in a nutshell, stay away from functional resumes at all costs.

Recruiter Tip: At the top of your resume, always include an easy to follow general/functional summary. Use bullet-points that can be easily customized to match what the employer is seeking. Hand your reader what they are looking for on a silver platter. Find out what are the "hot buttons" of the employer and make every one hit a home run. Immediately following your summary, provide your reader with an easy to follow chronological history of where you worked and when. It is here you need to detail your accomplishments.

# 5 - Poor Formatting

"A resume is the first impression an employer (or recruiter) will receive about you and your qualifications. If the presentation is not cleaned up in a professional manner, (formatting), it is immediately thrown in file 13, (the trash can)," Mark King, MRI Atlanta.

It is paramount that your resume is clean, clear and not full of major formatting errors. Paul Philbin of Technisource in Phoenix, Arizona says, "Poor formatting is a huge frustration of mine. Making sure that the resume is in a clearly readable format can make a huge difference. My job is to provide hiring managers with resumes that don't waste their time. If the manager has to scale the resume to get to what he/she is looking for, then that manager will not be interested."

Clean formatting goes much beyond making a resume look pretty. Most candidates are unaware that many formatting features will not view well on a computer screen, and more importantly, will not download properly into many HRIS recruiting systems or job boards. Recruiters are reading your resume on the computer screen. BE WARNED! Just because a resume looks well when presented on the printed page, does not necessary mean it will read well on a computer screen.

Keep in mind there are inherent problems when viewing a resume on the computer screen. The biggest problem being that only 1/3 of the page is displayed at any one given time. It is extra important that a recruiter have the ability to easily hold down the scroll bar and skim down your resume.

Formatting issues to be aware of:

  • Red and Green Squiggly Lines - These are distracting and say to the reader, "I don't know how to use Word!"
  • Poor Alignment of Bullets and Tab Stops - Bullets should be aligned cleanly on the page and not indented all over the place. Not only does this make for tough reading, it will also cause huge problems when your resume is downloaded onto a job board or HRIS recruiting system. This also goes for copious amounts of tab stops. There is no reason to have more than 3 or 4 tab stops in your resume.
  • Headers and Footers - Many candidates use this MS Word feature to present their address and contact info. Well guess what? This is one of the worst things you can do! The chances that your contact info will be converted are slim to none. You could be the perfect candidate for the position, but your saved resume offers no way for you to be contacted!
  • Boxes, Graphical Lines and Columns - Once again, none of these fancy formatting features will be saved in any recruiting system and will simply cause major formatting problems later.
  • Templates and Tables - No recruiter likes a resume chock full of templates or tables. A candidate's resume could wind up looking like scrambled eggs when posted on the job boards or into a recruiters database system. Recruiters will often cut and paste a candidate's resume to their company letterhead when they submit the candidate to their client. Cutting and pasting a template resume is next to impossible and requires EXTENSIVE re-formatting. Someone please tell Mr. Gates at Microsoft, eliminate the Resume Template feature Word, it only causes huge problems.
  • Margins Too Wide - Many candidates push their margins to the far reaches of the earth in order to get that resume down to 2 pages. These candidates are not fooling anyone and are most likely making the resume very difficult to read on a computer screen. Anytime a recruiter must use the horizontal scroll bar to read a resume, you have lost him/her! Furthermore, "word wrap" is very likely to occur when moving to text format, posting to job boards, or to recruiting systems.

In closing, Bob Lee of Management Recruiters in Jacksonville, FL shares, "Without a doubt, the largest problem we have is formatting of resumes. With the new recruiting software on the market, importing resumes is a snap, however, when a resume is over formatted with multiple type fonts, heavy graphic trickery, "ghost" backgrounds, etc., it raises hell with the input process. When we receive a good candidate with a poorly formatted resume, we immediately fire off an email requesting a simple WORD document in (.doc) or (.rtf) format. All others that come in who we are not interested in re-formatting, get canned on the spot. We can't take the time to 'un-format'!"

Recruiter Tip: To see what your WORD document resume will look like as a text file, (as it will most likely appear on the major job boards), take your Word document resume and paste it into NOTEPAD. The major job boards generally do not retain font changes and complex MS WORD formatting functions. You can then make any minor formatting changes as necessary within NOTEPAD. Another idea before uploading your resume to a job board such as NET-TEMPS, is to "save-as file type" MS-DOS Text. This too will give you a general idea as to what your resume will look like when a recruiter views your resume on the job board in his/her search.

# 4 - Incomplete Contact Info

Jennifer Baker of Inter*Link Technology Solutions in Daytona Beach, FL shares, "I think that candidates often don't think about what might happen to their resumes once it hits a recruiter. Many of the resumes I get now are electronic in form, so the resume does not stay attached to the candidate's e-mail for long. Any candidates who are seriously seeking a position should make it as easy as possible for a recruiter to contact them regarding their credentials. That means providing as many ways to contact the candidate as possible."

It is imperative that your complete contact info be easy to read and at the top of the page. This includes, your full name, phone numbers, (home, cell and a daytime number), home and email addresses. Noah Rahm of ResumeDoctor.com explains, "At least 1 out of 7 resumes that are submitted to us for assistance do not have an email address on them. In this day and age, it is like not including a phone number. I recently had a candidate not include any contact info on his resume. When asked about such, his response was that it was on his cover letter. Who is to say that the cover letter will make it from Contact A to Contact B and all the way to the hiring manager?"

Speaking of email addresses, your address should be professional. Recruiters shared with us that they do receive the occasional resume with an email address such as hot-sexy-kitten@yahoo, son-of-satan@hotmail, beer-guzzler@hotmail, etc. Remember, a resume will be the first impression an employer or recruiter will have of you, so make it a good one!
As discussed in last week's article, do not use the headers and footers feature in Word to include your contact info. This requires recruiters and hiring managers to manually put this information into their database. As also discussed, many job seekers use the standard Word template format.

Not only do most candidates often pick a very small font size for their contact info, which requires the reader to set his/her screen display to the 150% setting, but also your contact info will most likely be lost when it is entered into a HR recruiting system. Furthermore, do not shade your contact info in gray, use fancy hard to read fonts or graphical lines around such. If your resume is more than one page, it is often a good idea to include your name, phone number and email address on page 2.

In closing, whenever your contact info changes, make sure any and all recruiters you are working with or have in the past, are updated. If anything, it offers a great excuse to touch base again. You never know what new requisition just came across their desk. Being on the top of their mind can never hurt.

Recruiter Tip: With the many ISP's changing hands everyday or going out of business, create a permanent email address. There are plenty of free services out there such as Yahoo or Hotmail. Many candidates opt to use a work email address. It is often not a good idea to do so, for two major reasons. One, what if you leave that position? How will a recruiter be able to email you a new posting? Two, many employers monitor their employee's email boxes. This could compromise your current position.

# 3 - Dates Not Included or Inaccurate Dates

Recruiter Trey Cameron of Cameron Crag Group states, "Recruiters must have employment dates. When I see a resume that doesn't even have dates within it, I just move on to the next one. For those that have jumped around a lot, it doesn't work. And for those who just think they don't need them, you are mistaken!"

Many recruiters shared with us that a resume that does not include dates sends up "red flags" about a candidate's background and are immediately tossed out. The immediate assumption is that the candidate is trying to hide something.

Furthermore, be honest about your dates of employment. As previously discussed, lying on resumes is another area that recruiters and hiring managers alike despise! Inaccurate dates of employment were cited as one of the most common lies or misleading info stated in resumes. In today's employment atmosphere, it is becoming more and more commonplace for companies to do extensive background and reference checks prior to hiring. Also, companies are demanding that their vendor recruiters do more extensive background checks. The chances of being caught are forever increasing.

Recruiter Tip: When providing dates, work history should be in reverse chronological order, (most recent employment first). The general consensus among recruiters is to place the employer info, title and location to the left hand side of the screen. Your employment dates should be aligned to the right so that your reader can easily "skim" down the page. Make it easy on your reader! And if you have a proven track record of staying with a job for a while, absolutely make sure that your employment dates JUMP out at your reader. This is a real selling point about you as a candidate. Make sure you use it to your advantage.

# 2 - Too Duty Oriented

"I like to see accomplishments, what did you do for the company," says Texas Recruiter Jan Nielsen of Career Consulting Group.

The second most common complaint among recruiters was reading a resume that is "too duty oriented." Resumes need to describe more than just job duties. A good resume must also detail your accomplishments. Mention the business benefits and results attributable to your direct effort, involvement or leadership. Steve Kendall of Management Recruiters of Atlanta explains, "Duties and responsibilities are generic to the position, and the same words could have been used by the person's predecessor or successor. Accomplishments are personal and show what difference you made while holding that position. This is what excites a prospective employer."

Also, do not just rely on long lists of buzzwords to describe work or accomplishments. Not only are you risking "burying" the important details from your reader, but also doing so often makes a resume appear too generic. Bob Lee of Management Recruiters in Jacksonville, FL adds, "Job duties and long lists of buzzwords are meaningless. For example, we know that a sales manager is responsible for sales. Instead, how much he increased sales is what we really want to know to pass on to our clients! Furthermore, identify your area of expertise, product or service. We must know how you are connected with the industry our client represents. Those resumes that say 'I am a manager' and can manage anything, anybody, anywhere are fruitless."

Jennifer Baker of Inter*Link Technology Solutions in Daytona Beach shares, "The old belief that you should leave a recruiter guessing a bit as to your experience to keep them interested in you is a major myth that too many candidates have fallen for. When looking at resumes, it is easier for a recruiter to determine that a candidate is a good fit if he/she indicates what they have done in their career. Sell yourself!"

Recruiter Tip: Melissa Hope Chaplin of H.E.A.T. Resources shares this tip: "Do not separate your skills and accomplishments from each position. Your resume should be easy to read. Someone should be able to look at it and know what you did at each job, and how long you were there." Make sure to provide specific examples of how the company benefited from your performance. Accomplishments should be quantified in dollars or percentages, for example, (Increased productivity of department). From what to what...1%, 10%, 90%? When developing your achievements, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did you perform the job better than others would have?
  • What were the problems or challenges that you or the organization faced?
  • What did you do to overcome the problems?
  • What were the results of your efforts?
  • How did the company benefit from your performance?
  • Did you receive any awards, special recognition or promotions as a result of your performance?

# 1 - Spelling Errors, Typos and Poor Grammar

Hands down, without a doubt, the NUMBER ONE complaint is Spelling Errors, Typos and Poor Grammar.

Lucille Abate, Recruitment Director at Abane & Associates in Newmarket, Ontario states, "Spelling Errors drive us insane. In the world of technology and 'Spell Check', you would be amazed at how many resumes come through with errors! Candidates need to remember that their resume represents them! If there are careless errors, it directly reflects on the candidate. Our policy is, if they haven't taken the time to proof read their resume and correct spelling errors, delete!"

Brian Correia of Management Search, Inc. in Providence, RI shares, "It is surprising to me how many resumes I receive for $50K + positions that have misspellings, incorrectly used words (their vs. there) and poor grammar. If an individual sends me a document meant to represent his/her acumen and skill, and does not take the time to insure that it is correct, then I am left to interpret this to mean poor attention to detail and lack of sincere interest. Unfortunately for them, I will never refer them to a client, if that is their best effort. Proof reading seems to be a lost art in the technology age."

The general consensus among recruiters is that your resume will more often than not be your one opportunity to make a first impression. You need to make it a positive one! Simply put by Glen Thompson of Archer Resource Solutions in Mississauga, Ontario, "If your resume has a mistake, that is reason enough not to get the job. This is a document that you have hopefully worked on for a long time and had several people go over. If this document has mistakes what does that say about the rest of the work that you do?"

Boston recruiter David Carpe of Clew adds, "By far, the biggest complaint I have is related specifically to grammar. Resumes are supposed to not only reflect the experiences of professionals, but additionally they serve as examples of communication style. Run on sentences, poor spelling, mixed verb tenses, all of these things and more are a serious reflection on the individual!"

In closing, if you want your resume to work for you, the whole list of 20 can be easily summarized into 3 major areas:

  1. A resume is a marketing piece. A resume full of spelling errors, hard to read paragraphs or fonts, poor contact info or formatting etc., does not make for an effective marketing piece about your skills. You must sell yourself.

  2. It is paramount that your resume be presented in a way that is easy to read in today's Internet age. This means having an easy to open Word attachment and a resume that is easy to read on a computer screen. In addition your resume must post well to the job boards and into HRIS system, etc in order to be considered a viable candidate. As a candidate you MUST have this understanding.

  3. A job seeker must customize his/her resume for each and every job he/she is seeking. This means do not bury important details. Provide your reader with an effective summary tailored to each position, etc. What might be a hot button to one employer concerning your background may not be the most important skill to another.
For more detailed actual recruiter quotes or to sign-up for our innovative service, visit www.resumedoctor.com.

Best of Luck in your Job Search,

J. Michael Worthington, Jr.