Entries from the Job Hunter's Journal

Recruiters’ Top 10 Resume Pet Peeves

I  was just looking through a listing of Recruiters’ Top 10 Resume Pet Peeves by Norma Mushkat, from a Monster.com posting that I had downloaded from the Internet several years ago.   Since I was one of the 2,500 recruiters who contributed to the ResumeDoctor.com survey, I received a copy.  The original list had 20 items and is listed at www.iscworld.com/Top20.htm.   Norma Mushkat shortened the list and added some recruiter comments.  I will list everything verbatim and just wanted to make a note that the number 6 pet peeve is functional resumes.  I was going to devote a blog to writing functional resumes but since I really dislike them, and I don’t seem to be alone, I decided to provide this listing instead. 

Recruiters’ Top 10 Resume Pet Peeves:

10.  Personal Information Unrelated to the Job

With the limited time recruiters spend on your resume, you don’t want to distract them with your age, height, weight and interests unless they’re directly related to the work you want to do. 

 9.  Unqualified Candidates

You may want a job, but if you don’t have the skills and experience needed, recruiters will feel you’re wasting their time.  Look at the job description.  Be sure to highlight the skills the are looking for with a bulleted list of your related qualifications at the top of the document.

7.  Long Resumes and 8.  Paragraphs – Long Paragraphs instead of Bullet-points.

“I simply don’t have the time to read them,” says Bob Moore of Computer Recruiters, Inc.  Focus on the skills and accomplishments that directly apply to the job you’re trying to get.  Every word counts so don’t dwell on the specifics of each job, but rate the highlights specific to you.

6.  Functional Resumes

Whenever possible, recruiters advise you go with chronological resume and focus on the skills and accomplishments that pertain to the job you’re seeking.  If you are concerned about a layoff, be assured that “nowadays, unemployment is quite prevalent, and recruiters regard it differently,” says Jeanne Pace of Pace Search Services.  “Most people do something to keep their work (skills) going.”  Use that information to fill in the gaps.

5.  Poor Formatting

Different typefaces and boxes may look nice on paper, but if the resume needs to be scanned, they can cause confusion.  Recruiters suggest keeping your resume in plain text.

4.  Inaccurate or Missing Contact Information

“You create a resume for one reason:  To get a phone call,” says Kim Fowler of Fowler Placement Service Inc.  How can someone contact you if the phone number is  missing a digit or your email address is incorrect?  Be sure every resume you send has you correct contact information, including name, phone number, email address and street address.  Recruiter will not look you up; they’ll move on to the next candidate.

3.  Inaccurate Dates or None at All

Recruiters need to know when you worked where to get a better understanding of your work history and to use the dates for background checks.  According to Kathi Bradley of Bradley Resources, “Missing dates, especially for long periods of time, could send up a red flag, and the resume may be discarded as a result.”

Include specific ranges in months and years of  for every position.  If you have gaps, explain them either in your cover letter of introduction, but not you resume.  “It always helps to continue your education and training and to list any volunteer work during a slow period,” says Bradley.  “listing these under education or volunteer work should explain some of the gaps.”

2.  Too Duty-Oriented

“If you’re using your company’s job description, you’re missing the point of your resume,” says Paul Schmitz of Hufford Associates.  Recruiters already know what the job is; your resume should highlight your accomplishments in that position.  Schmitz advises you show what you’ve really done by outlining the process, outcomes and results that are specific to you.

1.  Spelling Errors, Typos and Poor Grammar

According to Bruce Noehren of J. Douglas Scott & Associates, this directly reflects your reputation.  “You don’t gain anything by getting it right,” he says.  “This is credibility you should already possess.”

Many Job Seekers are Still “Not Getting It”!

I am a third party recruiter who receives over 100 resumes per week.  Most of those resumes are responding to postings I have place on several thousand job boards, or on my own web site.  When I post a job opening, I carefully spell out the job requirements.  Job seekers responding to my posting often have very few, or none, of the job skill and experience requirements in their resumes.  When I respond to the candidate via e-mail, or call them, and inform them that they don’t fit the job requirements, the job seeker often responds by telling me that they have the requisite skills but they failed to include the information in the resume.

A Resume is not just a formality, it is the key to unlocking the company’s hiring door.  If the information on the resume does not include the  information the hiring company wants, no amount of cajoling by the recruiter will get the hiring company to interview the candidate.  With the easy access to word processing software these days, there is no excuse for not tailoring a resume to fit the job description unless the job seeker does not have the requisite job skills and experience.  If a job seeker does not have the experience and job skills the company wants, they should not be responding to the positing by a third party recruiter for that particular position anyway.  If the job seeker is responding to the posting in order to get help from the third party recruiter with their job search, that should be clearly stated somewhere in the response.

I know many candidates believe that third party recruiters should “think outside the box” and present them to the hiring company anyway but that is not what companies are paying us to do.  Companies provide lists of qualifications they want met and that is that.  Companies are not looking for creativity when they hire a third party recruiter, they are looking to have their hiring needs met period.


The perfect resume probably has not been written but a resume does not have to be perfect, it merely has to be good enough to get you a job interview.  The following 13 items should help in your efforts to write an effective, if not perfect, resume.

  1. Never, never lie on your resume.  Even stating that you are still working for a company when you are merely collecting some type of unemployment compensation from the company is a lie.  Intentionally misleading people into believing you have a degree when you do not is a lie.  Leaving a job off the resume that you worked at for six months can be construed as a lie.  Leaving positions off the resume that are so old as to be irrelevant for the position you are applying for is usually a good idea, because; it makes the resume easier to read and, if you think you might become a victim of age discrimination, leaving old positions off the resume makes it more difficult to guess your age.
  2. Make sure all contact information is correct.  I once had an executive, making over $250,000 a year, get very angry with me because my client company would not send him his interview expense check.  When I checked into it, I found out the check had been returned to the company several times.  The candidate had an incorrect address on the resume.  I have seen many resumes with incorrect telephone numbers.  This is not as important in the email era, unless your email address is wrong also, and that is not a good thing.
  3. Make sure you have NO spelling errors on the resume.  Virtually everyone has access to word processing program with a spell checker.  If you do not, invest in a word processing program and use the spell checker.  Spelling errors send everyone who reads the resume a message that you don’t really care or you are sloppy.  I once had a candidate who after interviewing with a company felt compelled to write a thank you letter, which is normally a good thing.  Unfortunately, the thank you note was hand written and full of spelling errors.  The company’s offer letter and the candidate’s thank you note passed each other in the mail.  After receiving the thank you note, the company withdrew the offer.
  4. Talk about your accomplishment’s not the team’s accomplishments.  The team (in most cases) is not trying to get the job, you are.
  5. List accomplishments, not your job description.  The hiring company wants to know what you did to make your company more successful, not that you watered the plants every morning.  This can be very important.  I rewrote an executive candidate’s resume (for a fee) that had been out of work for six months.  The main thing I changed was his to list his accomplishments and eliminated his duties.  A few weeks later I received a letter from him stating he had 6 interviews and was deciding between 3 offers.   He also sent me an additional check.
  6. Minimize or eliminate the use of  fancy graphics.  My computer reads most of the resumes sent to me before I do and it gets very upset if it has to sift through cute winking happy faces.  Also, more and more hiring companies are reading resumes directly into data bases and bullet points and graphics make this a slow process.
  7. Do not use tables.   Tables present a whole host of problems if the recruiter has to make a change to the resume or if the company is trying to feed the resume directly into their data base.
  8. Try to keep the resume to two pages.  One page is usually too short but more that 2 page resumes often get ignored because no one has time to read more than two pages.
  9. Focus on what your can do for the company not what the company can do for you.  Remember, the company has a problem that has to be addressed or they would not be using their limited resources to make you happy.  Hopefully, the hiring process will be a win-win for both of you but remember the golden rule “he who has the gold rules”.
  10. Do not list references on your resume.  There are so many reasons not to do this that I do not want to list them here.  One of the biggest reasons not to list references is that the person you have listed as a reference may quickly become your strongest competitor for the job after the recruiter talks to him or her.
  11. Do not put your Social Security Number on your resume.   This seems obvious in this era of identity theft but I still see resumes with Social Security numbers.
  12. Do not list personal items such as hobbies, number of children, church affiliations, etc.  These can only hurt you because most Human Resource Managers are amature Psychiatrists and if they see you like to read, they automatically assume your are introverted and this could be bad if you are interviewing for the Plant Manager or sales position.  Also, deep down most companies believe you should not have a life outside the company.  If you have time for hobbies that means you could be working longer hours developing that perfect report no one is going to read.
  13. Objective statements are passé.  You have submitted your resume to the company so, obviously, you are looking for a job you can be happy performing.  Do not waste valuable resume space and the recruiter’s or Human Resources Manager’s valuable time.

Reason For Leaving

As a Third Party Recruiter, recruiting for the plastics industry, one of the least pleasant things I have to ask a job seeker is “why did you leave your last employer?”.   This question must be asked because, it is one of the first questions the company’s hiring manager or human resources representative asks us, and if the candidate has had several recent job changes, they want to know the reason for all of the recent job changes. 

I am writing this blog to suggest to unemployed job seekers, as many unemployed job seekers are now doing, to place a brief reason for each recent job change on their resume.   Reasons for being unemployed include; downsized along with 1/3 of the plant production employees, plant is closing, operations are being relocated to Asia, company has ceased doing R&D, etc.   Stating the reason for being unemployed on the resume can be a big help for the job seeker because some potential employers feel that anyone who is out of work is because of poor job performance.  The hiring manager may pass on a candidate simply because they are not currently employed, if the reason for unemployment is not included on their resume.

Obviously, some companies have used the economy as an excuse to shed poor performers but  the majority of  unemployed job seekers are unemployed because companies have to make deep cuts (sometimes deeper than they probably should have).   If you were terminated from a company for performance reasons, you might not want to include that on you resume, but if you were merely downsized, I see no reason not to include an explanation on the resume. 

There has been a great deal of upheaval in the plastics industry over the past couple of years and being unemployed in the plastics industry should no longer have the stigma attached it once did.


I am a Third Party Recruiter (Headhunter) specializing in finding employees for the Plastics Industry.  In today’s buyer (employer) driven market, well written resumes are even more important than ever.  Unfortunately, I continue to see many poorly written resumes.  In order to … Continued

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