10 Ways You Know Your Resume is Bad

Now with audio! Stay tuned towards the end for bonus tips on working with resume writers.

Hello! I’m Chris Fields, MLHR, Resume Writer and owner of the ResumeCrusade.com. I’ve been a previous guest on Chris Russell’s CareerCloud Radio (you can listen to the podcast here) and like him, I love to build better job seekers. 

I see a lot of resumes and as you can imagine some are good but most are not. Most people don’t realize how bad their resume truly is. Remember this; recruiters get on average 86 resumes per open position. You only get about 10 seconds to make a positive impact – so don’t waste their time. In order to make the cut, your resume needs to be attractive yet professional and the content needs to be on point. 

With that said, here are 10 ways to determine if your resume is bad. (In no particular order)

10. Functional style resumes are bad, they are the least effective. Functional style resumes lists your skills and duties toward the top of the resume and then the employers underneath. Usually they are used to hide gaps in employment or career setbacks but the reverse effect is it raises the reader’s suspicions.

9. If you use the word “I”. For instance “I led a team…” or “I was promoted…” or “I worked as…” never do that. Save the word “I” for your cover letter.

8. Egregious spelling and grammar errors. I don’t think one spelling error is as bad as it used to be. Thanks to autocorrect we now know that most of us can’t spell. However, I do think egregious spelling and grammatical errors are counted against you, for instance “know” and “no”, “they’re”, “their”, and “there” or using the proper verb tense when speaking of past versus present duties and accomplishments.

7. You have more than 2 pages…definitely if it’s more than 3 pages. Why? Well, you only need 10-12 years of stable work history on your resume and for every 10 years of experience you should have a page. Using that as a rule then 1.5 pages is the average. You are not supposed to have jobs from the 1970’s, 1980’s or even early 1990’s on your resume – brevity!

6. If you have the word “Objective” on your resume it’s bad. I don’t care if you put “Executive” or “Professional” in front of it. No more generic objective statements please – they tell the recruiter or hiring manager nothing.

5. It’s bad if you don’t put a phone number on your resume.  I’ve seen it. People are so afraid of spam calls, identify theft and random text messages so they only put the physical address or email address on the resume. Mistake! Inbox messages on LinkedIn are popular and so are text messages and phone calls. It’s best to put a phone number on your resume.

4. If you have the phrases “Results-Driven” or “Goals Oriented” on your resume, what you are saying basically is that you love old workplace clichés. Every manager and director on planet earth is “Results-Driven”. It’s plain and adds no flavor at all to your resume. Recruiters and hiring managers have seen it a million times. The English language is broad, use other words.

3. No dates of employment or company names. True story, I had a client with no dates of employment on their resume. They were trying to conceal their age but it looked more suspicious than that. I had another client that had no company names or dates of employment. Both were not getting calls for interviews and both had been given bad advice. Use common sense, no matter what advice you get. If it doesn’t make sense to you, don’t do it.

2. If the overall resume design is bad – like, a bunch of colors on it, your contact information going vertically down the side of the resume instead of the top, the margins are stretched out to maximize the entire page, and too much bold texting.

1. And the number one way to determine if your resume is bad….if you wrote it yourself. 

There you have it and if you need help, check out the ResumeCrusade.com

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