6 Reasons Why Your Resume Gets Trashed

Job seekers are products. And their resumes much showcase all of the great qualities and benefits that the product has to offer a potential employer. So, that resume is actually a piece of marketing.

But that piece marketing content will not be even be read, if it does not even get to a recruiter’s eyes and then engage that recruiter within 6 seconds. Here are 6 reasons why your resume may end up in a trash can, either digital or physical.

It Did Not Pass the Digital Screening Process

Gone are the days of a recruiter or hiring manager opening up every resume that arrives in their inbox. Long before resumes get to an inbox, they are screened digitally. Only about 25% make it through that screening process. The 75% that are trashed do not have the keywords and keyword phrases that the screening software is looking for. The way to get into that 25% is to do two things:

  • Read the job posting very carefully and look for those key terms – they will be found in the title of the posting as well as throughout the job description. Pull out the job title and all of the skills, hard and soft, that are mentioned in the posting. Be certain that those terms appear in your resume, and get what you think are the important ones as close to the top as possible, as well as further down in the body of the resume.

  • If you know the company for which the posting has been published, get on its website. Read its mission statement, and navigate around to see terms that might be used to describe people who are in your niche area. This is another source for keywords you may want to incorporate into your resume.

From Screening to a Human Review

A resume has about 6-8 seconds to engage the human reader. This means it must be scannable. If you have a lot of bunched up text describing your work experience, you will not survive even 6 seconds. Job titles, keywords, and figures that show successes must be in bold print, and accomplishments must be written in phrases and separated by bullet points. Recruiters are looking for certain words and phrases. If they cannot find them in a sea of text, goodbye resume.

Grammar Errors and Typos

Resumes with these types of mistakes tell a recruiter you are lazy. No one wants a lazy employee who rushes through his/her work and doesn’t pay attention to detail. Don’t rely on spell and grammar checks of your word processing program – they are not foolproof. Use those first, but then find someone who is really good at English to review it. Another person will find mistakes that you glossed over because you are “too close” to the product.

It's Too Long

If you are getting to the end of a 2nd page and still have more to tell, you have too much information included. Go back through the resume and take out those tasks and responsibilities that do not relate to the position for which you are applying. If you have to make choices about eliminations, keep the professional associations and awards and ditch the outside hobbies and interests, if they don’t relate. You can always get these into an interview conversation.

Focus on What You Want Rather Than What the Employer Wants

This is a frequent mistake when job-seekers put a career goal or objective at the beginning of their resumes. Too often, these are focused on the job-seeker rather than the potential employer. When in doubt, leave out the “career objective.” It’s not really important to a recruiter. S/he wants to see what value you can bring to the organization, not where you want to be 5 years from now. Again, that is better addressed during an interview.


There is much more flexibility today in regards to resume formats. But a progressive format that shows you can think outside of the box won’t work for a traditional, conservative organization. On the other hand, startups and organizations that are known to be “progressive” may appreciate a bit of a “twist” that shows your creativity of design. Mistakes in tailoring format to the “culture” of the company are not a good thing.

It’s still a competitive job market out there for most career fields. No matter how skilled and qualified you are, if you do not sell yourself correctly, you never get that interview. Take the time to craft a unique resume and cover letter for every position. And if you avoid these six errors, you just may be in those few who make the final cut for an interview.

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