There are certain types of information that is better left off of a resume, yet there are people out there who are committing self sabotage by including it on their resume. Here is my list of 7 deadly sins to resume writing:

1. Photograph
Discrimination in hiring still exists today, by adding a photograph; one reveals information about themselves that falls into protected classes which could lead to employment discrimination (age, gender, race, origin, etc…). In addition to the discrimination argument, adding a photograph to a resume (I have seen it done a number of ways, never good) looks obnoxious.

2. Personal Information
This rule also most definitely applies to cover letters along with resumes. Personal information such as age, date of birth, social security numbers, marital status, national origin, or anything else that is self identifying have no business on a resume. Not only does personal information open doors to potential hiring discrimination, it is irrelevant to searching for a job.

3. Irrelevant Job Experience
It is important to limit irrelevant job experience on a resume. If listing experience to fill gaps of employment on a resume, limit details to a couple of sentences or highlight details that are relevant to the new job search. For people fresh out of college searching for the first job in a new career, it is okay to list some college work experience, it can even look good. Make sure to keep details to a minimum and focus on details such as results of school projects, internships, etc… The goal is to make the prospective employer focus on relevant job experience. Also, make sure to add any quantitative metrics of performance, such as a good GPA (3.8 and above).

4. Over Embellishment of Qualifications
Making a resume read well is one thing, but flat out lying is another. Lying will only hurt candidates in the long run. Candidates should write resumes in a way that is positive and reflective to their skills and abilities.

5. Hobbies
Personal hobbies should always be avoided; no one cares what a candidate does in his/her free time. Hobbies that are highly relevant to the job search are okay if mentioned properly. For instance, an IT candidate might develop open source projects in his/her free time. Open source development experience for an IT candidate looking for a software engineering job would look great on a resume.

6. Rants about former employers or places of work
Explaining why one left a previous position should be explained in a positive light. For those candidates who have bad things to say about a previous employer, congratulations for not working there anymore! Furthermore, congratulations on taking the next step to finding a more positive or better job! Prospective candidates should never rant about a former employer to a prospective employer. This rule applies to resumes, cover letters, job interviews, and even in the workplace at a new job.

7. Bad grammar and spelling errors.
Resumes should ALWAYS be triple checked to ensure everything reads properly, all words are spelled correctly (nothing worse than reading collage vs. college), and all punctuation is where it needs to be.

Don’t kill your job search by violating your resume with any of the above mentioned resume “sins”. There are many ways to write a bad resume, and many great resources online to writing a great one.

Check out more great content at my Minneapolis Recruiter blog

Views: 2434

Comment by Darryl Dioso on April 2, 2012 at 9:37am

Thanks for posting.

I've always wondered about #1. I agree that pics can lead to discrimination charges thus they are a no-no here in North America but more accepted in Europe. But what about Video Resumes? Doesn't that open a whole can of potential problems?

Comment by Simon Topps on April 2, 2012 at 10:15am

Good article on the whole but disagree with point 5. The majority of my clients (who range from insurance to gaming to consultancy to finance to public sector and most inbetween) all want to see what hobbies and interests a candidate has outside of work.

I'm sure there are a few hiring managers/HR partners out there who may shy away from a candidate if they list their hobbies but on the whole most like to see it (in England at least) as it gives them a rough idea of their personality. As with anything it's within reason and I’d never suggest someone write 'At weekends I like to see my friends, hit a bar and get totally hammered'! but I see no problem with someone putting 'At weekends I enjoy catching up and socialising with my wide circle of friends'

Obviously there are differences from continent to continent but that’s the view from here anyway!

Comment by Kyle Schafroth on April 2, 2012 at 10:19am

Great post Ryan - sad to say but there are still an abundance of these errors making their way across recruiters' desks and ATS databases each day.

Personally I've seen few of the 'personal information' issues for domestic jobs, but when we have positions that may be for or draw candidates from outside the US I almost need someone to black-line the cv before I read it!

Darryl - that is an interesting question on the video resumes. While I can't speak from experience as I've always avoided them I wonder if some companies perhaps ask for a paper copy of the resume for the first review and maybe treat the video as an informational interview instead of first impression? Not sure as it still means they need a really buttoned up process and team to be 100% that decisions are being made on set criteria and not something in the video but a possible solution.

I'd be interested to hear from some folks who maybe have actually used video resumes and I'm just speculating.

Comment by Ryan McCormick on April 3, 2012 at 9:57am

Darryl - you raise a good question about video resumes, they certainly could open up a big-ole can of problems. I have never received a video resume, so I can't speak from experience how I would handle them. I would probably avoid them and request a paper resume as per what Kyle would do. Simon, it is always interesting learning about practices and methods outside of the US. I had to add hobbies to my list as a deal breaker as I have seen some really irrelevant hobbies that border on "Too much information".

I am new to the recruitingblogs community, I really appreciate all of your feedback!


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