Seven Deadly Resume Sins

Posted on 23 June 2009


Too often, an initial review of your resume by a prospective employer is more about uncovering liabilities and eliminating you from consideration than it is about identifying why you might be a highly qualified candidate for the particular opening.


For that reason, your resume should be constructed in a way that eliminates mention (if possible), camouflages, or mitigates the impact of such liabilities.  Let us consider some of the major liabilities of prospective job candidates and what might be done to minimize their effects.




If you are a seasoned employee, references to your age, including graduation dates and an employment history that extends beyond fifteen to twenty years, allow the individual reviewing your resume to establish a clear sense of your age (at least to the extent of calculating a minimum age).  While age discrimination is illegal, most employers view more youthful applicants as being more desirable for a variety of reasons.  Don’t give the prospective employer the opportunity to use your age against you.   Provide only enough information about yourself in your resume to interest the prospective employer in you and your qualifications.  Leave the remainder for discussion at the interview.


Current Unemployment


Current unemployment, no matter what the duration, is almost always viewed negatively by a prospective employer – the longer the period of unemployment, the greater the liability to the job candidate.  If you have been unemployed for more than a brief period of time, the potential employer can view your marketability as suspect, making the assumption that companies are unwilling to hire you for whatever reason.  Since most people (employers included) are influenced by the thinking of others, a job candidate unemployed for a prolonged period of time is viewed the same way as a house that has been on the market for an extended period – “there must be a problem.”  Avoid, if possible, putting a terminal date on your most recent employment, or prepare an alternative style resume that does not display so prominently your dates of employment.


Gaps in Employment


If your resume displays significant gaps between previous jobs, then your marketability and potential value come into question.  Either you are taking extended vacations between jobs or are having difficulties in finding new opportunities.  Neither of these scenarios enhances your image as a job candidate.  If you are displaying month and year dates on your resume, you may want to consider eliminating the months and using only the year dates.


Lack of Educational Credentials, Certifications, or Licenses


Depending upon the field you are targeting, you may be required to hold certain credentials.   If you do not possess these qualifications, you prospects for securing an interview for an available opening will be severely hampered.  If, nonetheless, you have done the job before or believe that you are in some other way qualified for the position, prepare a resume in a style that accentuates your experiences and qualifications.  If the issue is lack of a degree, a listing of professional development courses, seminars, and programs that you have completed may bolster your educational credentials.


Lack of Career Progression


Longevity within a company, highlighted by attainment of positions of increasing responsibility, is indicative of focus and drive on the part of the job candidate. Conversely, prolonged existence in a particular position depicts you as non-ambitious and/or ill qualified for promotion.  Often, candidates who have been with an organization for an extended period have, indeed, taken on more responsibility with no corresponding change in job title.  If that is the case, the increases in responsibility need to be incorporated into the resume to provide the prospective employer a more accurate picture of the candidate.


Too Many Employers


Although it is certainly possible that one might have valid reasons for changing jobs rapidly (employers going out of business, etc.), listing a number of employers within a short span of time on your resume is another reason why someone reviewing your resume might discard it, rather than contacting you to setup an interview.  Many employers perceive job-hoppers as individuals lacking the skills or emotional and psychological stability necessary to maintain employment.  If your resume lists a number of short-term employments, consider eliminating some of them.  Even if some gaps remain, the overall impression created by your resume will be more positive.


Incorrect Spelling, Grammar, and/or Punctuation


A single word misspelled on your resume can signify disaster for you.  We once had a client who, in rushing to prepare his own resume, intended to type the word “warehouse.”  The copy he handed to the potential employer actually read “whorehouse!”     Similarly, infractions of grammatical rules and improper punctuation, including capitalization and run-on sentences, can mean the difference between job interviews and a phone that does not ring.  Of all the potential liabilities, this is the easiest to correct.  Make sure you carefully review your resume and any other documents you send to employers.  A perfect resume dramatically enhances your potential for job-hunting success.

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12 Responses to “Seven Deadly Resume Sins”

  1. Wila K. says:

    Thank you. These are very good tips for people who have found themselves laid off from their jobs and competing with so many others for the few jobs available.

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  3. Liana Rufus says:

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  5. Valentin Beyers says:

    I like the post on resume writing. It was very good. Thank you!

  6. Gargiullo says:

    Nice post.

  7. Albu says:

    thanks for the points~~

  8. Golden Sampilo says:

    Hey, ­my very first comment on your site. I have been reading your blog for a while and thought I would just pop in and drop a friendly note… It is great stuff indeed – particularly for job hunters.

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  10. fcw says:

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