Anyone who’s been in a position to recruit staff will know resumés vary wildly in style and content. But there are certain alarm bells that will make any employer throw the application straight into the bin.
Sometimes those warning signs are avoidable, whereas others are just part of the applicant’s history.
Anand Sanwal, co-founder and chief executive of industry research firm CB Insights, revealed in an email to his subscribers what puts him off when reading resumes.
“Of course, there are exceptions to these, but when reviewing hundreds or thousands of resumés, you need to rely on some heuristics that make reviewing simpler,” he said.
These are the 11 mistakes to avoid if you don’t want your resumé thrown in the bin:
1. No upward career progression at a single firm
If there’s been no promotions within the same company, employers are likely to be suspicious about the quality of the job applicant.
2. Too many lateral moves across companies
This is related to the “no upward career progression” bullet point. If the candidate is seen shifting to many different roles within the same organisation, the potential employer can interpret this as not being disciplined enough to stick with, and succeed, in a given role.
This is Sanwal’s biggest alarm bell when reading resumés.
“I know folks believe this is a sign of the times or that people’s careers now progress in dog years or whatever, but as far as I can tell, that is all nonsense,” he said.
“Mastery of a craft takes time, and having lots of 1-year or 18-month gigs doesn’t suggest mastery or the ability to stick with challenges long enough to see them through.”
4. Multiple concurrent roles
This is when the applicant has a history of having one main job plus “lots of side hustles”. It can indicate a lack of focus, and can worry potential employers that the person’s mind may not be fully focused on that particular job.
5. Lists Microsoft Office suite as a skill
If you are forced to write in Microsoft Office as a skill in this day and age, it indicates a lack of genuine computer skills.
6 and 7. baD f0rmatting and spellng misteaks
These types of errors indicate a lack of attention to detail, ignorance, or both. Not good for any job candidate.
8. Inflated claims of accomplishment not commensurate with role/title/team size
Blatant overcooking of achievements will put off any potential employer, especially when there are other candidates that have genuinely achieved such claims. Why bother investigating a liar?
9. Lots of discussion of mentoring startups
Actual work at startups is more impressive than mentoring others.
10. Solo consulting company dressed up as something bigger
Self-employment and freelancing is a big part of the workforce in the modern world, but exaggerating the magnitude of this accomplishment doesn’t do the job candidate any favours.
11. Use of terms like “visionary”, “keynote speaker” or “thought leader”
Meaningless words that anyone can claim. In the bin!
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