Ten ways to ruin your resume

Chris Lema

ruin-your-resumeWhenever you spend a day reviewing resumes, you know it’s going to be a tough one. Some people even consider it a failure to have to look at resumes at all. But in the case where you’re hiring new and young staff, resumes are the only thing they have (with limited experience). So you end up looking – or at least I did – all day, at over 30 of them.

My goal was to find 5-10 that were worth following up with.

The reality was that it was kind of difficult and I was worried. Why? Because of the challenges found on so many of today’s resumes. Here’s my list of resume mistakes – make sure you don’t make them.

Here are 10 ways to ruin your resume

If you disobey this list, you’ll ruin your resume. Follow it, and you’ll be good. In other words, this is an “opposite” list.

  1. Remember your objective – If you want me to follow up with you, make sure I can find your email. Seriously!
  2. Stand out – If you don’t have an amazing objective, do me a favor, toss it. Everyone wants an opportunity where they can grow and apply their skills, right? So stand out or skip it, but don’t bore me.
  3. Filter yourself – If you’re applying for a software development job, show me that experience (even internships) but I don’t need babysitting or sandwich making experience.
  4. Prioritize – If you have any experience, push the education section down below the experience. That’s what I want to see.
  5. Focus – Tailor your resume to the position I’m looking for. Telling me about your educational background and credentials in teaching, for a dev position, is a mismatch. I can tell that you didn’t create a tailored resume for this job.
  6. Go it alone – I love that you worked on a team. I love that the team had results. Tell me what part you specifically played in those results. I want to know about you, not your team.
  7. Tighten it up – Unless you’ve published tons of articles, written tons of books, created tons of patents, or have an incredible history, I don’t need more than 1 (or maybe) 2 pages. Seriously.
  8. Correlate – If you’re going to tell me you have 50 technical skills, they better show up in other parts of your resume as part of real accomplishments. I won’t believe your skill list just because you write some acronyms down.
  9. Research – If you’re just sending me a direct resume, look up our corporate background. If we’re a .NET, Microsoft, SQL Server shop, don’t open with 6 years of Java and Oracle – unless you highlight how easily you’re able to transition.
  10. Make the connections – I’m looking at tons of resumes at once. If I see one that is out of left field, it’s your job to help me see the connection to the role I’m hiring for. If not, I’ll just assume that your resume got in the wrong pile.

Probably the biggest challenge today was that I was looking at generic resumes that could have been applying to any position from a developer to a data entry clerk, to an admin assistant.

That doesn’t work for me.

If you want a position with my organization, one where we don’t hire lazy people, show me that you can at least put in the extra work to tailor a resume to the position I’m looking for – so that I don’t have to do the hard work to get past my own cognitive dissonance.

Do that, and trust me, you won’t ruin your resume. Instead, you’ll move to the top of the pile.

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  1. All of the points are great advice. I’d add another one: Don’t lie. Highlight your accomplishments and skills all you want, but respect yourself and me and don’t lie about who you are or what you’ve done.

  2. People still write objectives on their resumes?! I thought they went the way of the dinosaur! Most people I talk to these days say an objective is outdated and unnecessary.

  3. Those are some great advices. I should recommend your post to some of my friends so they will know what not to do when writing a resume. You made it pretty clear.

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