Expert Tips On Executive Resume Branding Strategies

Worst Resume Mistakes: Career Experts Share Resume Bloopers and More…

resume writing mistakesC’mon, you know you’ve done it. An embarrassing typo…a homophone…a bit too much information…You can tell me. I won’t tell a soul!

You invest hours researching how to craft a dynamic resume, you slave over a few drafts, you attach your final polished draft to a well-written email and you click that button with the cute little envelope icon…Whatchamacallit? Oh. Yes. The Send button. You feel good. You’re hopeful. You can’t wait ’till you hear back because you just know your resume is impressive. Wait a minute… what’s that!? It’s…a MISTAKE on your resume! Well, maybe they won’t notice (you think?).

These guys noticed. Read the following bloopers, advice, pet-peeves, and humorous stories told by professional resume writers and career coaches. The experts share some of the worst mistakes and costly negligence they have seen on resumes (a bit beyond typos). Hopefully, they will save you from the same doom that almost befell their clients.

Blog Author: Rosa E. Vargas, MRW, NCRW, ACRW
Follow me on Twitter

Contributors belong to the National Resume Writers’ Association and Career Directors International

Career Experts Share…

Judy Gillespie, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Career Avenues by Judy

1. Resume blooper: **Amber** had worked for a manufacturing company for several years. She correctly listed her job title as Stripper on her resume. Quite an eye-catcher!”

Maria Hebda, CCMC, CPRW
Career Solutions, LLC

2. Caught using someone else’s resume: “Senior managers/executives have duplicated resumes because the bulk of the information matches their background. The MS Word document “properties” indicates the original document title (usually the person’s name), author, and company name. If the employer or HR personnel reviews the document properties, this **Professional** positions himself/herself as dishonest right from the beginning.”

Sari Neudorf, CPRW, CEIC, CPBA
SDN Consulting

3. Ambiguous and superfluous writing: “Resumes that at first glance look really good. Then, you begin to read the bullets and realize that the writer has pumped up the basic job description as accomplishments, leaving the reader wondering what the bullets really mean!”

Sherry Mirshahi, CEIC
Interview Road Map

4. Long-winded paragraphs:Blocks and blocks of text instead of breaking it up with bullet points for an easier read. Employers usually don’t spend more than 20 seconds on first glance before deciding whether or not to call you in for an interview. Make it easy for them. Consider your audience.”

Tina Kashlak, PHR, Professional Resume Writer
Resume Writers’ Ink

5. Whose resume is it? Inconsistent voice: “1st Person and 3rd Person: Resumes that see-saw between narrative and wrongly include a 3rd person narrative are reason for concern.”

Denise Larkin, CPRW, CARW, CEIP

6. What!? Not proofreading and relying on spell check only: “As a former hiring manager, I received an application with a resume that stated the candidate went to such-and-such PUBIC high school!!! (Yep, you read that correctly.)”

Kim Mohiuddin, NCRW
Movin‘ On Up Résumés

7. Not communicating personal value: “I recently wrote a résumé for someone who used to be in sub-prime loans. In reviewing the draft I sent her she said, I have a real problem with the word ethical.’ What could I do but say ooookayyyyy and take it out.”

Hire Imaging, LLC

8. Irrelevant and unsubstantiated data: “Recently worked with a new graduate who needed some substantial coaching. In his self-written resume were two sections I could not believe! The first was a one-line: AWARDS: Won the cream pie-eating contest at the XYZ County Fair–25 pies in an hour! The second was well-centered at the end for easy reading: References: Mary Smith and John Doe (but I don’t have their contact information). Believe me, this client and I had our work cut out for us!”

August Cohen, CARW, CPRW

9. Unfavorable information: I had a client who had **reason for leaving** under his numerous short term positions, from ‘laid off when the company was bought’ to ‘didn’t get along with manager. He was digging his own hole and I had to grab the shovel from him!”

Dawn Bugni, CPRW
The Write Solution

10. Branding yourself “old as dirt”: “I recently worked with an older gentleman returning to work after **retiring** for a few years. His four-page resume took his work history all the way back to 1966. He immediately branded himself old and most likely knocked himself out of consideration. (Age discrimination exists. Deal with it.) After some coaching, he understood the resume is a sales / marketing document, not a career autobiography. We got rid of dates before the 90’s, focused on the last 10 years and cut the length to one page.  You don’t have to tell all; just enough to pique interest and land an interview.”

Jennifer Anthony, Professional Resume Writer

11. You’re kidding. Right? Submitting duplicated resumes to the same career professional: “A job seeker submitted a resume to me for a free review and quote. Well, I was in for a surprise! It was a copy of a resume I had written about a year ago. It turns out that the clients are married. It’s not too smart to copy someone else’s resume…but it’s particularly reckless when you work in the same industry AND in the same city. Needless to say, I offered to write her a resume of her own more suited to her qualifications.”

Ilona Vanderwoude, MRW, CCMC, CEIP, CJST, CPRW
Career Branches

12. The Jack of All Trades resume: “A very common mistake I see job seekers make is creating a ‘catch-all resume.’ They try to combine their different job interests into one resume, to ‘keep their options open.’ Unfortunately, this has the opposite effect. An unfocused resume confuses hiring people and simply gets tossed aside. Tip: Create several resume versions if you want to pursue different types of positions!”

Gillian Kelly, CERW, Personal Branding
Outplacement Australia

13.  Your references may not like you so much. Bad references: “A client included an unflattering referee and wondered why she kept getting to final interviews but not getting the job! Always ensure you know what your referees are saying about you. Only include referees who you are confident in.”

Carolyn Broomfield, CEO, CARW, CEIC
First Place Resumes

14. Too much personal information: “One of my pet peeves is the amount of personal information that many freely give out on their resumes: Marital Status: Married, three children, Richard (10), Suzie (8) and Charles (5). Nationality: New Zealander. Place of Birth: Auckland. Date of Birth: 18th June, 1967, Health: Excellent. Interests: Shopping, Movies, Reading, Computers, Socializing, Travel (sounds like they will have no time for work). Information such as this is inappropriate on your resume”

Cheryl Minnick, Ed.D.

15. English grammar: “Mistakes on students’ resumes such as Trainee, Walgreen’s; Managed inventory and store shrink (he meant shrinkage).”

Mary Elizabeth Bradford, MCD, CARW
Mary Elizabeth Bradford – The Career Artisan

16. Tsk, tsk. Criticizing your former boss: “One client noted in his cover letter that he was looking for employment because his current employer was incompetent and he needed more $. This same candidate also shared with me in an interview role play that he liked firing people because by the time he was ready to fire them … they sure as well deserved it! Ha!”

Irene Marshall, CPRW, CEIP, CPCC, MBA, PhD
Tools for Transition

17. Edit pets out of resume: “I was working with a very senior executive in Texas. His e-mail address was I asked him who Ginny Belle was. He replied, That’s my dog.’ I said, Well, Ginny Belle needs to stay home. You need another professional e-mail address. You do not want e-mails related to your job search to go into spam.’ I figured he was probably a hunter who loved his dog.”

Hope you enjoyed reading. Thank you to all contributors.  Please know that the order does not represent which I preferred — I listed as they were submitted!

Care to tell us which one is your favorite? Contribute a few of your own!

[Credentials. What do they mean?]

Leave a Reply