Resume Poision: This Stuff Could Kill Your Career


No No No

Dead application guaranteed

Allow me to pause here for the warnings…In the collected wisdom of contemporary resume writing professionals, there are certain things that should not be found on a resume at the peril of having it immediately sent to resume third circle. In the literature review of the subject, certain things  popped up with Swiss watch regularity:

Misspelled words

Dante's order of Hell

Bad resumes: circle 3

There is still no machine that can best a good human editor (I am assured to always be needed!). As good as they are, spell checkers in word processing programs are not yet capable of determining the appropriate spellings in all cases. Plus, the sentence fragment style of resume writing drives computer grammar programs to drink. Beware.

T.M.I (Too Much personal Information)
My beloved of 28 years is a pre-boomer naturalized American. Adjustments had to be made to Americanize his old-fashioned, European-style resume that included age, date of birth, height, weight, health condition, marital status and people group (that’s race in the USA). Additionally, he was required to submit a passport sized black and white full face photo.

Including any of these things is resume poison in the United States in 2011. In passing, there is a move in Europe to standardize and modernize the resume. Take a look at a conversation going on in Linked In now comparing the European resume and the American resume should there be readers toying with the idea of working in the UK.

A bit of history: In the pre-Civil Rights Movement era, submitting a photo with the application was common practice. In those times blacks were forbidden to hold certain kinds of jobs and employers would simply choose not to pull a “colored-looking” face from the app stack to interview when they pleased.  Pictures submitted with apps was banned, but other methods of excluding people cropped up to take its place. It is like slicing off one of Hydra’s heads to only have it replaced by two more.Now, sneaky potential employers analyze given names and check the locations associated with certain addresses. For that and security reasons, some applicants now leave off  specific street number addresses in favor noting the state and city  of residence only. No pictures on resumes, brothers and sisters–especially not the sexy glam or vacation snaps.

More “arsenic articles” – Foggy, self-serving  objective

Foggy objectives scream, “I want to keep my options open”. In other words, “I don’t really know what I want” to potential employers. Put a job title on the line where the objective used to live followed by a two sentence flash (think, elevator pitch) about the benefits a company can expect by hiring you. A headline stating the job title sought leaves no room for doubt about exactly what job an applicant is seeking and sends a clear message to networking partners walking your resume in, applicant parsing software, HR people (some of them may be gnomes and imps) and recruiters. Since it is now possible to tailor headlines to match the job applied for, using that power is not a transgression. No smear on integrity.

It is better to have two focused resumes than one foggy one. This is true especially for job gypsies (like yours truly) and renaissance people. Believe me, if Leonardo Divinci, the “father of the resume”, had to write one today, he would not have just one.

old fashioned cough medicine

home-made cough elixir

100% Pure “Functional” Resume Recruiters hate this one with a passion. Functional resumes leave a bad taste in their mouths because they want to know in no uncertain terms “what you did and when you did it and for how long“. Once again, job gypsies and renaissance people would be better off using a carefully crafted “blended” or “hybrid” resume instead. Recruiters are suspicious of this one too, but are slowly getting used to this flavor.

Other Poisonous Substances in Resumes

Three weird sisters meet with McDuff

"Beware the poisionous resume"!

  • Leaving Off  Dates
  • Resume too long
  • Funky and/or Old Fashioned fonts
  • No accomplishments; plenty of duties
  • Unprofessional email address

More Resume Top No No’s  Lists On The Web (and some comedic relief)

Career Builder’s Top Ten Resume Killers

HR Confidential’s Top Five Resume Killers

Sooper Articles’ Top Ten Resume Killers

Job Mob’s Funniest Resume Mistakes

Advertisements