4 Resume Mistakes That Turn Off Hiring Managers

466065709Like most staffing companies, we’ve seen a lot of resumes and received valuable feedback from hiring managers on a good portion of them. As someone who isn’t a stellar resume writer, allow me to share an area of expertise: understanding what hiring managers don’t want to see (or are tired of seeing). Here’s the breakdown of feedback that we’ve received (cumulatively) at Michael Greg Search Group.

1. It’s complicated. Candidates seem to think a career objective, or job description, that is overly complicated and verbose is appealing to hiring managers. Let’s use this simple rule of thumb: If it takes two to three times to read over a line before understanding it, it’s distracting! I’d like to point out that “overly verbose” and “industry jargon” fall into two different categories. It is possible for the use the of the latter not to fall into the former.

Here’s an example of an “overly verbose” bullet point from a Business Development professional’s resume:

An established media services business development leader with skills in creating and representing a wide range of value propositions relevant to various situational opportunities

So, basically, you’re saying you can identify and structure a good deal? Not being sure of the exact meaning of that line can cause hiring managers to have to read it twice, hence, confirming my definition of “overly verbose.”

Here’s a Java Developer’s skills as an example bullet point in a resume that is full of ‘industry jargon’ yet is clear and concise:

Proficient in designing J2EE applications using MVC pattern and Struts framework. Working knowledge of GOF Design Patterns, Enterprise Design Patterns and n-tier architecture

The above example identifies a lot of specific industry terms that might seem dizzying to an outsider; however, to an industry professional this is merely a statement of proficiency within Java.

Hiring managers are sifting through a lot of resumes, time management is a concern for them. Share with your candidates that they should clearly articulate their skills without over complicating things.

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2. Mistakes, Typos, grammatical errors.We’ve all heard this one before. But let me share with you what this really says to a hiring manager. It’s not the weak grasp of the English language or potential judgment that the candidate might not be that intelligent which raises the red flag here (as you might think).

We’ve become a society of computer dependency. Along with that comes all kinds of powerful word processing applications that spell and grammar check our every word. It’s quite possible that you’re not a good speller (I know I’m not the greatest), but what it shows the hiring manager is that your candidate has little attention to detail. How can these managers expect your candidate to spearhead a project, manage a team, and make client deliverables without even taking the time to verify his or her own resume is composed properly? They can’t. We staff numerous high level roles that report directly to CEOs, CFOs, etc. (who incidentally are running companies because they’re sharp as tacks). Sharing with them that your candidates don’t know the difference between their and there won’t make any smashing first impressions. Take the time to share with your candidates that they should have their resume corrected, and if grammar isn’t their specialty, have them share it with someone with whom it is.

3. The resume’s “creative,” but your candidate is not. I thoroughly enjoy reading through resumes of Graphic Designers, UX Designers, and other creative types. Their resumes are expressions of their crafts. It’s a mini-insight to their portfolios. The design and layout can speak volumes about their creativity and design quality. For everyone else, anything “outside the box” should probably stay there. This isn’t a personal attack on anyone that takes a stab at trying to go against the norm when it comes to resume formatting and design. I can share our experiences with you from working with HR department heads on ‘non-creative positions’, their primary focus is on job proficiency. Highlighting things that don’t fall under the job requirements is superfluous and once again… a distraction! Candidates might think their new layout and color scheme looks pretty cool, but odds are it’s taking hiring managers focus away from your candidates skills and placing it elsewhere.

4. Your candidate only has one resume. This could be the most detrimental mistake on the list. People become so attached to their former accomplishments that they can’t bear to eliminate them from their resumes. Let’s look at the following scenario to get a better understanding of this:

Company A,  a healthcare software company, is looking for an account manager who has managed hospital accounts for electronic medical records enterprise software. Candidate A has experience working for a healthcare software company, and has account management experience as well. The objective here is for Candidate ‘A’ to take a fine tooth comb to the job description and elaborate on all qualifications that Company ‘A’ is looking for – and deliver those experiences clearly and concisely on his\her resume. In other words, have your candidates give your clients what they are looking for — provided Candidate ‘A’ has actually accomplished those things (without fabrication).

The mistake we see time and time again is that Candidate A is so enamored with the “elaborate software implementation that they’ve done for a non-profit charity” in a past role that they can’t bear to deemphasize those details and focus\elaborate on the current opportunity requirements. What ends up happening is that the hiring manager’s attention is drawn to a different skill set which, in turn, places Candidate A’s resume in the “not qualified” pile. Don’t allow your candidates too be proud to omit past accomplishments from their resume replacing them with pertinent experience for these new career opportunities. Past accomplishments are great, and they paint the picture of their past employment, however, focus on painting a picture that parallels the job that they want if they have those skills (work experience) in their background.

I don’t claim to be a resume expert, but I can gladly share with you my experiences as the owner of an Executive Search Firm. If you’re candidates are adamantly opposed to this industry insight, you’re probably working with someone who has a propensity to fall victim to mistake #4.

MORE: the recruiter’s role in creating a fantastic resume



Michael Eisenstadt

Michael Eisenstadt
Michael Eisenstadt, managing partner and founder of Michael Greg Search Group Inc., is based in Miami Beach, FL.

Michael Eisenstadt

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