5 Worst Things to Do on Your Résumé

It’s difficult to write a résumé expertly tailored to the job you want. Even if you select the right accomplishments and skills to highlight, a relatively minor error can still implode your chances of a hiring manager taking you seriously.

In fact, it’s safe to say that writing an effective résumé is one of the hardest parts of the job-hunting process. As you’re crafting yours, here are some key things to avoid:

Self-Praise and Exaggeration

No matter how you feel about Donald Trump, don’t try to imitate his braggadocios prose, especially when you have relatively little space to describe your accomplishments.  Saying that you’re the “best” (or “bigly!”) tells the hiring manager or recruiter absolutely nothing; instead, convey your accomplishments with hard, impersonal data (i.e., “boosted sales by 25 percent…”).

In a similar vein, never exaggerate your accomplishments; it’s easy enough for a hiring manager or recruiter to verify at least some of your claims. Even if they can’t ask your company directly to confirm what’s on your résumé, many of these gatekeepers have extensive networks; they can ask a former colleague or friend if something passes the “smell test.”

Using a Wild Font

Who hasn’t been tempted to use Comic Sans on your résumé? Hiring managers don’t find that sort of thing amusing, though—they want an easily readable font they can scan quickly (and automated résumé software, meanwhile, won’t care what you use).

If you’re at a loss over which fonts to actually use, Helvetica is always a reliable one, as is Garamond, Didot, or Proxima Nova. Or you could really play it safe and go with Times New Roman.

Relying on Overused Buzzwords

Never describe yourself as a “self-starter” or “passionate,” “hard worker” or “hard working” (that should go without saying, just like “experienced” or “motivated”). Definitely don’t refer to yourself as a “rockstar,” “ninja,” or whatever other cute terms are in vogue at the moment. And definitely never, ever use “synergy” or any of the other “corporate speak” terms that pop up way too often in PowerPoint slides. 

Neglecting to Show Your Impact

It’s one thing to list what you’ve learned and where you’ve worked; but many tech pros neglect to mention how they used those skills, or the impact they had on their various workplaces. As mentioned above, make sure that you weave tangible accomplishments into each of your résumé’s employment-related bullet-points, especially if you can sprinkle in some numbers.

For example, writing something like, “Accomplished a lot in my role as manager…” won’t impress a hiring manager very much. But stating something like, “Led my team to increase app-related revenues by 25 percent…” will get their attention.

Neglecting to Copyedit Your Résumé

No joke: Spelling errors will kill your job-hunting momentum absolutely dead. Don’t just rely on spell-check; get someone with a good editorial eye to read your résumé before you submit.

15 Responses to “5 Worst Things to Do on Your Résumé”

  1. Or perhaps something more relevant that “TDS” -> Why am I sent to a profanity laden article about the Comic Sans font? How is that a good idea? Its equivalent to saying “here is a reference that is as good as DICE, the title contains profanity, the article is laden with profanity, so you should to, because we think that is acceptable behavior in the work place.” Dice is a workplace focused organization, correct? Or are they just taking a roll on their reputation?

    • They never hire me anyways, I’ve been all over and over all the expectations of the employers…give us an example of a get the job resume..I’ve been looking for 7 years I’m tired!🤕please help!

  2. Raji Peters

    I am 38 years old and never got hired in the IT field. I graduated with bachelors degree in information systems eight years ago and all I got work experience is working at a gas station. Now i plan to go back to college and go for different career path avoiding anything related to STEM or business, finance, or marketing fields.

    • I’m sorry to hear about this Raji, I recommend you try getting some certificates. The IT industry looks at these certificates on top of a degree. Look at CompTIA routes or email me if you have questions.

  3. Janet Jenkins

    In these times, it doesn’t matter how stellar your resume is, the recruiters find some way to disqualify you or won’t submit you. I think some people have mentioned this above. They want 20-year-olds with 30 years of experience!! Since the recession the IT industry and job market has changed and companies have worked around the recession losses, so now they don’t think they really need anyone. If they do advertise, they want the impossible – every possible thing for thousands of years – and you have to be young and cheap. Plus now they want samples…. WHAT!!!!? Get a clue recruiters, we are not robots. We are not Walmart.

    • Greg Davis

      My company is looking for a 4th data analyst to join our team. We test your ability so don’t lie on the resume. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to interview a great resume just to find out they can’t do anything on it. We want an experienced person (who doesn’t) but will consider a newbie that can program in SQL. Most important thing is that you can think logically. Got healthcare experience, that’s a plus. You can get hired even if you do the test wrong as long as your approach makes sense and you work the problem. We are not the only company looking for data analysts or other IT positions in healthcare. Keep looking, don’t give up.

  4. Wanda Blackledge Foley

    I have been out of work due to a layoff for 6 months. This month alone I have apply for 457 positions. Yes, that’s right 457 applications, I have a MBA 15+ years in Accounting. My resume hits all the To Do items- honest, quantified impacts, performance value….but I am not even getting a first call back, so tell me… where is the “ get the job” resume tips?

    • JohnGalt

      You may need to change your name so that it looks Indian. A second recommendation is to have a Hyderabad address (this is one of two tech hubs in India for which many multinational corporations – via staffing firms – have become entirely dependent for sourcing cheap labor). The challenge for you is that you likely are American. Aside from tech jobs like developers now dominated by Indian labor, your occupation type is now being sourced to where it is cheapest. Since the management structure is almost a majority Indian now, your best bet is to look the part or target an industry that cannot be offshored.

  5. Looking at these comments, it is pretty obvious why people aren’t getting hired. Politics. Complaining about another person posting a political statement and then closing your own with a political hashtag intended to incite. Claiming recruiters look for reasons not to get people hired, when they only get paid through getting people hired….. Complaining about things that are not in your control makes it convenient to ignore what is.