Brutally Honest Resume Advice from a Career Recruiter

Brutally Honest Resume Advice from a Career Recruiter

Lets Face It

Let’s face it, you have a bad resume. It’s okay; you threw it together one evening after too many drinks with little to no training on how writing a resume. The hiring managers and recruiters rarely contact you back, and you don’t know why.

Your resume sucks, that is why you are not getting any love from the hiring manager—just being honest. Worse off, it sucks so bad that no one has the heart to tell you, which puts you at a disadvantage. As a human resources professional, with over ten years of experience recruiting for over a dozen industries both public and private, I have seen some badly written resumes.

Oh How It Sucks

An example includes one epic twelve-page cover letter that detailed every sordid detail of one applicant’s whole life story. It was riveting to read, but he didn’t get the job. I did, however, let him know gently that he was not what we were looking for, but that he should pursue a career in writing. If you want to know why you are not getting any calls back, I am about to set you straight on resume etiquette and give some resume advice.

  1. We have contact! Yeah, you have all the qualifications and skills I am looking for–except for the fact that you haven’t checked that email address since you looked good in a bathing suit and your mom won’t return my calls. I don’t know if you forgot to update your contact information or if you are just screwing with me. Please update your resume contact info for me so that I am not tempted to hire a private investigator to find you.


  1. I can spellll (see what I did there?) real good! No, you can’t and you’re not fooling me or my spell checker. If you can’t spell the title of the job you are applying for, you are not going to get the job. Your new employer thinks it is really important that you can master the written English language. No one’s perfect, but your resume writing skills better be perfect.


  1. Grammar is not a sweet cracker. If you can spell but don’t know the difference between a verb and a noun and can’t construct a sentence, then your new employer is not going to give you a platform to express yourself with their money. Hire an editor to check your resume before you send it out or visit one of the many websites offering free resume reviews.


  1. Formatting is your friend. If you are not besties with resume formatting you might need to hire a professional. There is nothing worse than reading 100 resumes in a day and trying to figure out if your skill set matches my opportunity while filtering thru your ten fonts, irregular columns, and miss matching bullets. Keep your resume readable and organized please.


  1. A picture is worth a thousand words. So, stop killing your chances of being hired by putting your photo on your resume. No lie, I have received duck-faced resumes from young professionals looking for a job. I even received one with a picture of the applicant with his cat. I like cats but something about that photo haunts me to this day. It was really scary! This is a resume trend that I hope goes out of style really quick.


  1. Keep it simple stupid. My dear sweet granny used to say that to me and it applies to your resume. I understand that you are super qualified for my position, but you can list out all twenty of your previous jobs in bullet form with dates. Your resume doesn’t need to be over two pages long. I am sure the trees with thank me!


  1. I gots SKILLZ! Uh, no you don’t because I can’t find them on your resume after reading really bad resumes all day. I am ready to give up for the day and move on and I can’t figure out if you have what skill set I need. Please for the love of baby Jesus, put your skill bank in bullet form towards the top of the page in two or three neat columns so I can find them before I go drink myself into a stupor. Okay, thanks!


  1. Paging Andy Warhol. I am a creative, so, this may only apply to me, but if your job is creative in any capacity show me that on your resume. If you are a graphic designer or a decorator make your resume a portfolio of your work. I once received a resume that had a cartoon sketch of the applicant down the left side of the page and she aligned the resume on the right side. It was a knockout resume; I hired her on the spot!


  1. Cover girl! More like a trashy centerfold. You need to decide now, do you use a cover letter or not? I don’t care if you do or don’t but if you do, I want to talk to you. No one really reads them, because when we do it makes us not want to read your resume. I don’t want to know your life story! All I want is to know is if you qualify for my job or not. If you do use a cover letter tell me: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and sometimes How. If you can’t do that in a short paragraph then don’t bother. I’m not taking off any points for not seeing a cover letter.

Seriously Though

Seriously, no one is perfect, but it breaks my heart to see so many qualified people stumbling around in the dark wondering why no one calls them back. I am only one recruiter, but I have seen enough resumes to scare me straight. It is hard out there for a recruiter; make our job finding you a little easier by following some of these simple pieces of resume advice. If all else fails, hire a professional to review your resume. A pro can take a resume to the next level in less than an hour. You would be amazed at how little it costs and how much it pays!

For in depth training on how to optimize your resume for virtual work please see our powerful Resume For Virtual Work lesson.

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