Resume Tip Tuesday: The Top 5 Worst Resumes Recruiters Have Ever Seen

Posted November 15, 2016

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The Top 5 Worst Resumes Recruiters Have Ever Seen

Here at CareerBliss, we take your career very seriously. We hope you're enjoying our weekly 'Resume Tip Tuesday' series, where we post a weekly tip to guide you through the process of creating and optimizing your resume and cover letter.

However, one topic we haven't yet touched on is what not to do in your resume. Just for fun, we spoke to a number of recruiters at several different recruitment agencies* and asked them each one question: what is the absolute worst resume you have ever received?

Sit back and get ready to learn from the mistakes of other how NOT to write a resume.

*Names have been changed for privacy purposes.

My Worst Resume #5: The Cut-and-Paste Resume

"I understand the fact that many candidates reuse the same resume, with some minor tweaking, to apply for a whole range of positions," says Siedah, an Assistant Recruiter at a small PR firm. "But I do expect people to proofread their work to make sure they haven't made a mistake when cut-and-pasting. I got one resume last week that really took the cake. Not only did the applicant put the wrong company name in his cover letter, but in his 'Skills' section, he pasted in wholesale what looked like an example of 'good skills' from some freebie website - including as his last 'skill' the 'lorem ipsum' example text that is traditionally used as dummy text in free resume samples. His job description didn't include proofreading, but that oversight lost him the job anyway."

My Worst Resume #4: The Technophobe

Says Ben, an Internal Hiring Coordinator, "I see over a thousand nearly-identical resumes per week in my position. I sometimes have to remind myself that not everyone is techno-literate. One charming older gentleman once sent me a scanned resume for an engineering position that you had to see to believe. Do you remember dot-matrix printers? Evidently, he had printed out his resume once in 1991 and then photocopied it every time he revised it. It was so faded it was barely readable, and all jobs he had held after 2001 were hand-written in blue fountain pen on an additional page. His writing was super neat, but the fact that every other page was flipped upside down on the scanner made it very awkward to read on my monitor. He actually had an excellent background, and I wound up giving him the position - and once he was hired, I discretely referred him to a resume doctoring service."

My Worst Resume #3: "Dear Diary..."

"I will never forget the day I downloaded a resume from a woman I still refer to as Ms. Dear Diary," smiles Sasha, a Recruiter from a large consulting firm. "Her resume was written in essay format - one solid block of text - and spanned nearly nine pages, with no paragraph breaks or formatting. In her essay, Ms. Diary had detailed every personal experience she had ever had, from birth to present, that made her ideally suited to the job we were advertising. No mention of her prior work experience whatsoever. I still wonder if she had ever been employed before. She filled one whole page with a first-person account of the time she helped her neighbors save their cat from a tree, which she said had taught her 'the meaning of collaboration with forward-thinking people to achieve a positive result.' Needless to say, she did not get the position."

My Worst Resume #2: Mister (or Ms.) Inappropriate

"I can think of a hundred examples of candidates who included inappropriate information in their resumes," says Ira, who has worked as a Technical Recruiter for over a decade. "These days, there is a whole section in the Recruiter Handbook about things you legally can't ask, such as if a candidate is married, whether they plan to have children in the future, and so on, in case we get accused of hiring bias. The same rule means that we cannot accept resumes with a photo attached. On my first day in this job, I received a resume from a very highly qualified female candidate who sent me an amazing resume for a Senior Manager position. Unfortunately, at the top of the resume she inserted a sexy picture of herself in a very short skirt - it would have been a great shot on a dating website, but including such a shot on a resume was highly inappropriate. I wondered if she had make a mistake adding that particular photo, so I double checked her online LinkedIn profile, and - yup - there it was again. I had to sift through resumes for three days to find a candidate who matched her list of qualifications."

My Worst Resume #1: The Entitled Job Candidate

Samson has been an Executive Recruiter for nine years, but he has a long memory for candidates who really go out of their way to lose themselves the position. "I'm always willing to work with new graduates who are fresh out of college and may not have a huge work history," he explains. "I like to think I'm a nice guy who looks past the resume to discover who the persona really is at the other end. However, if there's one thing that really turns me off, it's a sense of entitlement. I received 'Mr. X's' resume a few days after his graduation - and I know that because he told me so in his cover letter, along with telling me his GPA and a long list of the wins he'd had on his basketball team. This applicant had gone to one of the top schools in the country, but that was it. No side-jobs, nothing. That wouldn't have been so much of a problem for an entry-level position, but Mr. X applied for our top-paid position, the VP of Marketing job. He helpfully provided a bullet-pointed list of reasons why he deserved this position. After I sent him a kind note rejecting his application, he wrote me an expletive-filled reply which I was very pleased to save and attach to his resume, which we'll typically archive in our systems in case another suitable job comes up."


Tune in next Tuesday for more great resume, cover letter and interview tips! Same time, same place!

photo of The CareerBliss Team

The CareerBliss Team

CareerBliss cares about your career happiness. That's why we offer a variety of great tools and resources to help you make better-informed career decisions. We believe that if you're happier at work, you'll be happier in life! Check out company reviews, salary information, career advice and, of course, millions of jobs on CareerBliss and choose happy today!

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