5 signs your resume is screaming ‘unprofessional’
Don’t let one of these mistakes sink your chances before a hiring manager has even read your name.
We know you’re the real deal. Skills? Check. Experience? Plenty. Oh, and you’re a people person too? Incredible! You’re a true professional—one whom many hiring managers would probably love to meet in person and eventually employ.
So why aren’t you getting those calls to come in for interviews?
It could be that your resume is doing you in before you even get a chance to impress with your winning personality. Sad fact: Some of the smallest things can downgrade your resume from a “yes” to a “maybe” to an… “are you serious?”
Fortunately, most of the pitfalls of resume writing are easily avoided.
Monster talked to recruiters and career coaches to find out what makes them discount a candidate at first glance. The next time you’re updating your resume, make sure you keep an eye out for these no no’s.. We want to make sure those hiring managers take you seriously as we do...
Sketchy-looking email addresses
If you’re still going by Coolguy87 or Megadeth_rulez75, it’s time to change things up—at least when it comes to job application materials and other professional communications. (Go ahead and use your goofy handles on Reddit all you like.)
While you may be a free spirit in your personal life, stick with conventional here: The email you use in your job search should only consist of your first and last name, and a couple of numbers if necessary.
“When I see an email address such as surferman86 or jacksmom12, I cringe,” Rahul D. Yodh, a partner with Link Legal Search Group, has previously told Monster. “My assumption is that you are just too lazy to care about your professional image. . And laziness is not a quality I look for in prospective candidates.”
Typos—any and all of them
Speaking of things that’ll make you look lazy to a recruiter…how about misspelling out “work” as “wrok” in a 15-point font at the top of the page?
A typo can sink an otherwise solid resume, which is a shame—since 60 seconds worth of spell check could have prevented that fate. Better yet, after you spell check and before you send it off, have someone you trust look over your resume as well. Remember: Punctuation and grammatical errors count too.
“With competition for jobs so tight, a typo or two unfortunately can knock a candidate out of consideration because at that point in the process, that is all the person hiring has to go by,” career coach Maria Katrien Heslin has told Monster. “Typos can give the impression of a lack of attention to detail, sloppiness and an uncaring attitude.”
Weird attempts at uniqueness
Think you’d like to bake your resume inside a chocolate cake—or whatever this is? Think again. Such feats to make yourself stand out are generally not advised. “We tell job seekers to be unique. To be authentic. To ‘keep it real,’” Lawternatives founder Cheryl Rich Heisler has told Monster. “But then we tell them to keep their style within industry norms, don't stick out, don't make an employer wonder about your ability to fit in.”
Standing out is all well and good, but you want to do it in a way that fits the mold of your target employer’s industry. If you’re not sure what that means, you’re best off keeping your resume’s “unique” points limited to an eye-catching (but readable) layout or use of color. In other words, no Comic Sans, please. No picture-based resume (unless you’re in a design-related field). No unusual structure.
A lack of substance
The whole point of your resume is that it gives a hiring manager a quick—but still detailed—look into who you are and what you have to offer. That means going beyond the obvious “I worked here, I did this.” You want to show results (employers love numbers) and accomplishments, particularly those that resonate with the role you’re applying for.
“Employers want folks who can manage execution and get things done,” Kelly Braden, senior project manager at web design resource Alphabetix, has told Monster. “Show us some examples of getting stuff done.”
A wall of text
No, your resume doesn’t have to look like some super-slick smartphone interface—and we’ve already told you not to design it like a brochure. But your C.V. should be clean, readable and visually appealing.
The most important tip on the topic: Let your copy breathe. You don’t want to create a forbidding brick wall of text that gives your reader a headache before they’ve made it through the first few lines.
“Left-to-right, top-to-bottom; these resumes are one word after another, yet seemingly say nothing,” former recruiter Colin McIntosh, now VP of Partnerships at safety wearables startup Revolar has told Monster. He added that you want to make your resume clean, concise, and relevant to the job.
In other words, build in line breaks between thoughts and definitely between positions. And don’t try to cram everything in by using a teensy 9-point font. Keep this motto in mind: Abridged and read beats unabridged and unread any day.