5 Things You Should Absolutely Never Put on a Resume

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Corporate recruiters spend four to five minutes carefully scrutinizing every resume that hits their desk — at least, that’s what they say. But when jobs site TheLadders set up eye-tracking software to record recruiters’ behavior, they found that headhunters spend a stunning six seconds on their initial evaluation of a resume. Here are mistakes to avoid in order to make those seconds count. 

Your whole life story. “All they’re looking at in the beginning is a couple of primary things,” says John Challenger, CEO of executive search firm Challenger Gray & Christmas. A hiring manager wants to know what your last couple of jobs were, when you worked there and if the skills you acquired fit with the position they’re trying to fill, so that’s what you need your resume to communicate — not your life story. Challenger also suggests having a second, more detailed resumé you can hand a hiring manager that gets more into the nitty-gritty once you land the interview. 

(MORE: Three Little Words to Never Say in an Interview)

A data dump. Dense blocks of text are the kiss of death. “The layout of the content is just as important as the actual content,” says TheLadders’ job search expert Amanda Augustine. “White space does rule.” In the eye-tracking experiment, TheLadders found that recruiters look more intently at uncluttered, well-organized resumes and online profiles. Use a bold font to delineate different parts of your resume, and use bullet points sparingly. “It’s not a laundry list — it’s a a piece of marketing material,” she says.

Pictures. If your resume or profile on a site like LinkedIn has your photo, a recruiter isn’t going to spend any longer looking at it. Instead, they’ll just spend valuable seconds — 19% of those six seconds, TheLadders found — looking at the picture instead of reading what they need to find out about you. “And no crazy fonts, colors, anything that’s going to distract them from the content,” Augustine says.

(MORE: 5 Reasons Your Job Is Making You Miserable)

Disorganized information. TheLadders found that when recruiters look at a  badly organized resume, their gaze hops all over the place rather than focusing on the important parts. “Recruiters are expecting a clear visual hierarchy,” Augustine says. She advises putting your work experience towards the top, above your education, in reverse chronological order, with your most recent or current position first. It’s up to you if you want to include the months or just the years of your employment, she says. Emphasize the past five or 10 years; beyond that, you’re getting into ancient history. Save that kind of detail for the interview.

Bland language. Recruiters want to know if you’re going to be a good fit for the job. The shorthand they use for this is by looking for keywords in your resume that match their job description. “An individual resume’s detail and explanatory copy became filler and had little to no impact on the initial decision making,” TheLadders report says. So make sure those keywords are in there — use the original job posting for reference to see what terminology they use, Challenger suggests.

15 comments
NehaShergil
NehaShergil

I agree with this post, but I don't think one should avoid photograph in resume, A professional photograph at the top corner looks good. It is in an impressive effort to make a resume remarkable and noticeable.

Resume Writing

randallmckay
randallmckay

Pictures are absolutely necessary to a good resume. You should always do what you can to capture the reader's attention and hold it. There are no rules. 

ClaireAnneGyürkikiss
ClaireAnneGyürkikiss

The only time someone should have a photo included with a resume is for an acting/modeling job. 

MichaelGooch
MichaelGooch

just proves once again that job recruiters, HR departments, hiring managers, etc. don't really have the time to do their due diligence and actually read these things for content, they're often more interested in filling the position with any qualified candidate than being fair and selecting the truly best one.

AngelaJShirley
AngelaJShirley

I am not sure if I misread what you said about a LinkedIn picture. Are you saying that we should not include one on our profile? If yes, I disagree. I hate to see LinkedIn profiles with no picture, makes it appear the person is hiding something. Now this may just be me and I may have misread what the article said about LinkedIn.

I agree with having a "detailed" resume as a lot of online applications demand "details" that we are encouraged not to include in our 1 page resumes. For example - supervisor's name, phone number and so on on. I have always had a "detailed" resume and add information as I change jobs. Beats trying to remember information from the past and helps me to be honest about this information. With companies now getting very picky and actually doing background checks, it pays to keep track of all details. Career Counseling

Bullsgt
Bullsgt

A large percentage of resumes go through an Applicant Tracking System Software. The system scans for set criteria and rejects those that don't fit. Couple that with on-line applications set with narrow parameters for education, salary, job history and keywords. In other words the majority of resumes are never seen by a human. 

SebSampros
SebSampros

This is all very reasonable and well documented - that is just how humans work. However, it also explains the poor choices and the superficial job-to-employee matching going on... No wonder companies complain about a lack of motivation and creativity of new recruits. All they do is looking for the same keywords over and over again, ignoring personalities and all the "life story" inbetween the standardized phrases and facts that differentiate a person from a cloned working drone.

DavidRam
DavidRam

In America with tons of unemployment I wonder where the recrutiers are? I think they don´t have a lot job, do have?

popebenefictDLXVII
popebenefictDLXVII

@MichaelGooch Selecting the “truly best one” isn't about being fair; it's about profit maximization, as everything is. If you hire an inferior worker and pay them the same amount you would pay the best worker, the company's income won't be as high as it could be and you will lose out.

JungleBoiTee
JungleBoiTee

@AngelaJShirley No, the picture servers utterly no business purpose - unless you're hiring a model.   You read the article correctly.

Akatu_Ikwue
Akatu_Ikwue

@AngelaJShirley  The article is referring to a physical or email resume used when applying for a job, not LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a profile.

hedy1234
hedy1234

@Bullsgt Absolutely correct. Therefore......... network to get noticed rather than sitting at a keyboard............

JungleBoiTee
JungleBoiTee

@Akatu_Ikwue @AngelaJShirley  Incorrect; "....If your resume or profile on a site like LinkedIn has your photo, a recruiter isn’t going to spend any longer looking at it."