I have a BA in history and creative writing and an MA in history. I enjoy politics, movies, television, poker, video games, and trivia.
How Not to Get Hired
There are so many books on writing resumes that if you stacked them up, end to end, they would reach into outer space. There are many ways to write a resume and although a good resume won't necessarily get you hired, it's certain a bad resume will remove any chance you have to get a foot in the employment door. Here are a few no-no's when it comes to writing resumes. Commit these resume screw-ups and you'll never get an interview.
You Write Your Resume By Hand
Resumes in the 21st century are typed. Actually, resumes in the 20th century were typed too. Actually, I don't think there was ever a time in the history of the resume when they weren't typed, so if you're writing your resume by hand, you're basically telling your potential employer that you're a Luddite of the highest order who will probably come to work on a horse, ask weird questions about the indoor plumbing, and generally weird everyone out.
You Send a Resume That Has Stains
I can't think of anything on paper that's made better by having a stain on it. From a practical perspective this means that if you're taking your resume in to drop it off by hand to make a good impression and you stop by the coffee shop and you spill your Frappucino on the resume you don't consider, even for a second, dropping that particular copy of the resume off. Yes, you must go back home and print another unless you were smart enough to bring a second copy with you. This is why sending a resume by email is great. You can't spill anything on an email.
Your Fill Your Resume With Bad Spelling and Bad Grammar
If you want to destroy any chance you have to get a particular job, go ahead and riddle your resume with spelling mistakes and bad grammar. There's just no excuse in this age of spell-checkers and grammar-checkers to have either.
It's Filled With Emoticons
I don't care where you're applying for a job, emoticons are not funny, little resume enhancements. Even if you're applying for a job as an emoticon creator, you should probably avoid them.
It Contains a Photo of Your Dog
Maybe you think you're funny. But trust me. No potential employer will think seeing a photo of your dog improves your chances. You know, sometimes a dog photo can work on a dating site. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work on employers. You're supposed to try being professional. Submitting a resume that includes a picture of your dog is anything but.
Unnecessary Design Flourishes
For good or bad, resumes are plain. While there are definitely things you can do with creative formatting and font design, there's a line that one should never cross and that's when a resume crosses the line from professional to artistic. Squiggly lines, drawings... basically anything that isn't a letter or a line is off limits.
You Supply the Phone Number to a Strip Joint
Most responses to a resume occur via email. However, if an employer is actually impressed, they will likely call. If your phone number goes to the local strip club, that's not going to be good. Even if that's where you spend most of your time, it's still a bad idea. Sure, you'll get the call, unless your prospective employer just hangs up. Invest in a cell phone. That way, you can hang out at the strip club and still take the call. Just make sure the background noise isn't too loud.
Your Resume is in All Caps
Hey, why not just scream your qualifications from the nearest roof top? Your odds of landing a job will be about the same.
It's Five Pages Long
Look, nobody wants to read your resume in the first place, so the shorter it is, the better. But like some people just run at the mouth and don't know when to shut up, the bad resume writer doesn't know when to quit. Probably 95% of all submitted resumes do not need to be more than one page. It's a very rare resume that needs - and I emphasize the word "needs" - to be two pages.
Your Experience and Education Are All Lies
So, you graduated with a B.A. in English. However, your resume says you're a lawyer who was part of the National Honor Society. And though you've only worked at McDonald's, your resume says you are a Supreme Court Justice.
Basically, you know what I mean. Your resume better reflect your actual experience and education. If anything isn't true, your employer will find out sooner or later.
Your Resume Reads Like a Novel
The resume is not the place to unburden your prosaic self. In fact, sentences in the resume may not even resemble real sentences. The point of a resume is to keep your points short and your sentences shorter. Think of it metaphorically as beating a nail with a hammer. If you can swing hard enough to get that nail in with two swings instead of three, that's probably the way to go.
You Don't Let Somebody Else Review It First
Find somebody you trust, somebody who knows you, and somebody who knows business or jobs or resume writing, and let them read your resume. Ask for as much constructive criticism as humanly possible. A resume is not a secret document. If you somehow fear that your feelings will be hurt if somebody tells you that your resume sucks, then you're doing something wrong. Don't be afraid to ask for help from somebody who might know something about it.
Your References Hate You
If you don't have any good references, don't include them. Look, if everyone you ever worked with hates you, that's not good. It's going to be pretty damn difficult to get a job. However, if you include references because you have to, pick some friends. If you include people who you aren't sure will give you a good recommendation, leave them out. You can be pretty sure you're not getting hired if one of your references says you're a giant a-hole.
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Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 28, 2012:
Great Hub with helpful tips for bad resumes
Allen Donald (author) from Colorado on August 14, 2012:
Thanks for the comments. One of the most important skills in almost any job is communication and a resume is a form of communication. When you submit one, it's your first demonstration of your communication skills, which should be clear and concise.
harrist from on the Net on August 13, 2012:
nice info :) but as far i know company only cares with our skills :) IMHO
Phoebe Pike on August 13, 2012:
Awesome advice for what to avoid. Some of these are pretty funny.