Five Quick Ways to Get Your Resume Tossed in the “No” Pile

Submitting a resume to a recruiter or hiring manager is often the first step in building a relationship with an employer. Job seekers make decisions about what to add and omit from their resume in an effort to put their best foot forward and land an interview. But frequently, job seekers adopt a writing strategy that leaves their foot in their mouth instead. I talk to recruiters and hiring managers all the time to learn what they like to see on a resume and what drives them crazy.

Here are five strategies you may want to rethink if your current resume is reflective of any of these practices.

1. Submitting a functional resume.

In a functional resume, job seekers showcase their accomplishments by grouping them by competency (i.e. customer service experience, sales experience, etc), rather than by chronology. This may be done to take the focus off of an employment gap or spotty work history or to focus on skills that are less current, but perhaps more relevant for the position. But recruiters generally dislike functional resumes because they have to guess when and where each of your achievements occurred and if the chronology is not intact they may assume you have something to hide. If the preferred chronological format will not work in your situation, an alternative to the pure functional resume is to include an abbreviated chronology up top (company name, job titles, and dates) and reference where each accomplishment occurred within your competency sections.

2. Not including the start and end months for positions with short tenures.

If the chronology on your resume reports that you held a position from 2015 to 2017, the hiring manager is left wondering if you started in December of 2015 and left in January of 2017. If your two year tenure was really only 13 months, be honest about it and include the months.

3. Leaving off graduation dates.

Often people think that by omitting their graduation dates on their resume, an employer is less likely to be able to guess their age and the potential bias will be eliminated. But the reality is that when the graduation date is missing, you are actually calling more attention to the very thing you are trying to hide. When no date is listed, the employer may even assume that you are older than you actually are.

4. Not accounting for a lengthy gap in employment.

Every recruiter I have ever talked to has told me that they want to see any significant gaps in employment addressed right on the resume…not on the cover letter, which many of them (about 45%) never read. If you were taking care of a sick parent, raising a child, or traveling the world, say so right on the resume.

5. Not including a mailing address.

If you are posting your resume to an online job board, it makes sense to leave off the address for privacy reasons. But in any situation where you are sending your resume to a specific person, include your mailing address. When it is missing, an employer may assume that you don’t reside in the geography where the position is located and if they are not willing to pay for relocation they may just conclude that your candidacy is not worth pursuing.

While a resume is a marketing tool and I recommend presenting the information in the most favorable way, transparency and accuracy are also important. People want to hire people they feel they can trust and deception isn’t a great way to start off a relationship with an employer.. Don’t get tossed in the “no” pile because your resume makes employers feel they can’t trust you.

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