Resume Writing Tips To Avoid

4 Horrible Resume Writing Tips To Avoid

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There are many self-proclaimed experts claiming to know what’s best when it comes to preparing an effective resume. Let’s face it, anyone who has basic Internet skills can figure out how to type up an article just like this.

We are living in the 21st century and technology is advancing quickly. This allows college-aged kids and people in their early twenties to make a small side income by giving uneducated and misguided career advice to job seekers on various blog sites. The problem with this is you never know who’s actually behind the keyboard.

So, let me ask you a question. As an accomplished professional or executive, are you willing to put your career in the hands of a young, self-proclaimed expert who has little or no experience as a hiring manager or resume writer? I didn’t think so. To help you identify these incompetent resume experts, I have provided a list of the four most slipshod bits of advice you will find online that these amateurs provide.

Horrible Resume Writing Tips To Avoid

Here are four resume writing tips to avoid:

1. Only Going Back 10 Years In Work History

This is the one I hear the most and the one that frustrates me the most when I get a client who asks me if they should only go back 10 years in work history. I am going to be blunt here, so please don’t take offense. People, this is common sense! Why would you sacrifice an additional five to ten years of good rock-solid work experience with accomplishments and relevant skills just to meet the shoddy advice of some random article on a website?

As a hiring manager myself, I always look for who has the “most” relevant experience to perform the job as required. A candidate who is 5 years younger than the next has absolutely no advantage over an older candidate with more experience and skills. Can you grasp the logic here? Only going back 10 years in work history is the most ridiculous bit of advice I have every run across online.

2. Limiting Your Resume To One Page

Keeping your resume to only one page pretty much goes hand-in-hand with the one above. Why would you limit the amount of information the reader can grasp about your background just because you are worried about them thinking you are “too old” or “overqualified” by having a resume that is longer than one page?

First of all, when an employer tells you that you are “overqualified” for a job, it means they just don’t like you. Stop blaming your resume for being two pages or more. Nobody can be overqualified for a job. Why would an employer not hire a candidate who possesses more skills than the job entails? That would just be outright stupid.

Some might say it’s because they are afraid the candidate will only stick around long enough to find a better opportunity at another company, or that they will get bored and underperform. These are concerns every employer has about every single employee, but that does not mean a hiring manager should choose the candidate who turns in a one page resume vs. a candidate who turns in a two-page impressive portfolio of achievements.

Do you catch my drift? Employers simply don’t care about whether your resume is one page or three pages as long as you have what they are looking for. I will agree that a resume should be as concise and straight to the point as possible. However, don’t exclude important information just to achieve a one page theory that was conjured up by a college kid in a dorm room.

3. Use Fancy Styles And Fonts

Some websites and lousy resume writers will advise people to use fancy styles and fonts to make their resume “POP” and help them “stand-out” from other candidates. Proper formatting and unique organization are very important factors that will help the reader to better understand your background.

However, if you really think a hiring manager will do back flips to the phone just because your resume has a cool looking design, you are severely mistaken. In fact, using certain styles and fonts can ruin your resume’s response rate. The main reason is that applicant tracking system databases cannot correctly parse the information on resumes that use certain design schemes.

Another is that employers simply don’t care if you use a superscript letter for your first name or if your resume has industry-related images all over the page. All that does is take attention away from the important information on the page. This is called over doing it. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

4. Lie On Your Resume

I think this one is pretty obvious and anyone with half a brain should know better. However, I do hear this one from time-to-time.  A client will obsess over their resume after weeks or months with no response. Instead of being more persistent and aggressive in their job search, they focus on what they feel they can control, which is the resume.

This is basic human psychology, and when this happens, people tend to resort to lying on their resumes to cover up job gaps or hide their age to mask their fears. Look, it’s just not worth the effort to hide little facts from your resume in an attempt to deceive the reader. They will always find out where you worked when they run a background check using your Social Security Number. Keep in mind, the IRS stores your SSN in their database from the previous jobs you’ve held, and all employers have access to this information when they decide to hire you and process your job application.

If you leave off a job just because you only worked there for a year and felt the employer might not like it, they will find this and think you lied to them before you even began your first day on the new job. Also, you must provide your date-of-birth on your job application. Why would you hide your age from your resume just to waste everyone’s time if you’re really that afraid of being discriminated against? Save yourself the time and headache of lying on your resume. Instead, try focusing on more important things like adding more skills or following up with submissions more frequently.

I really hope this information helps you identify the bad apples that claim to be experts. If you are still hitting a brick wall, seek the help of a reputable resume writing service that can guide you in the right direction and provide the most effective best practices. It’s simply not worth the risk of jeopardizing your entire career by accepting horrible tips from a part-time amateur who lacks the necessary knowledge required to develop an effective resume.

Article written by Careers Plus Resumes

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Careers Plus Resumes

Careers Plus Resumes has led the employment industry for over a decade now with its success in resume writing and job placement.

37 comments

  1. Number 2 is horrible advice. If you are farther along in your career and have a lot of achievements, plus going for senior level positions, then having two pages may help you because generally that pool of candidates are smaller and hiring managers take a bit more time to go through more qualified candidates. However, for the rest of us, keeping it to one page is ALWAYS a best practice because most recruiters and HR managers spend an average of maybe 30 seconds per resume and if you can’t get their attention in that first page, they’re NOT going to the second page. Your best bet is to research what kind of resumes are the best for that role/level. Some companies will want longer resumes but it’s always a safe bet to stick to one page because that’s the industry standard. You’re not going to come off like you want to stand out, in fact you will just look like you don’t know the rules.

  2. I was informed that only 2 pages is sufficient for a resume and that 10 years is great. If you can add more years in the 2-page resume, that is great also. My exception is with this comment in Point #4:
    “Keep in mind, the IRS stores your SSN in their database from the previous jobs you’ve held, and all employers have access to this information when they decide to hire you and process your job application.” This is simply NOT TRUE! The IRS keeps your SSN for taxpayer data only, not keeping info on previous jobs you’ve held. Also “all employers” DO NOT have access to IRS information. Employers check criminal backgrounds and will contact your previous employers, when you provide them the information. The information IS NOT FROM THE IRS, contrary to what the writer states. I should know, I worked for the IRS for several years and know the type of data in the taxpayer records. So I believe a “correction” to this article should be written. Thank you!

    • CB, you are seriously mistaken. How do you think the IRS gets “taxpayer” data? Ummm, it’s because they were employed at a job. The IRS knows and stores all employer information and employer data of the people who work for those employers, including their SSN for “taxpayer” purposes. Employers can get permission to run full background and credit checks on employees (especially in financial fields) by using their SSN, and these full background/credit checks do in-fact contain previous employer data. Get your facts before you respond to a post. It is people like you who keep misinoforming the public with uneducated responses.

  3. sastry,

    Did you and other ‘Bell executives’ write this article? What are you talking about????? I thought constructive comments were welcome on this site, but I guessed wrong. Please be professional and don’t call others stupid especially if your grammar is horrendous.

    I hope the job seekers have enough common sense to take in only the most relevant advice.

    eric,
    I gave a rule of thumb.

  4. Got to disagree

    1/. yes “overqualification” is a clever way of saying “we dont like you” for no sensible reason but it is also very much the case that employers do believe that “overqualified” employees are a “problem”, they get bored, they leave early etc. I also believe that a LOT of employers are simply intimidated by the idea of employing someone who is competition on some level.
    2/. While it is true the resume is an important tool and needs to be “done right” the fact is that is that there is no one right way. The resume must be adapted to the story the jobseeker is trying to sell to the employer. So if eliminating pages and experience helps tell that story and you are getting the interviews – ignore the “rules”. I may add that it is true that an employer will read every detail on an eleven page resume but, a professional recruiter wont and most jobs are moderated by a recruiter.
    3/. the assumption that employers are largely prepared to overlook age when it comes to appointing someone is wrong. Dead wrong. They also discriminate on race, gender, appearance, qualifications.
    4/. the author is giving employers way too much credit for sense for their part in recruiting staff and a jobseeker who takes this oversimplified and misleading advice too seriously is going to get themselves in a heap of trouble when they have to explain why as a tertiary educated, middle-aged black woman they arnt gettng job offers.

    In short…be more realistic

  5. Good article, but couldn’t disagree more with your statement about being “overqualified.” If I am interviewing someone who really is overqualified for the available postion, why would I hire them knowing that they are qualified for higher positions and higher pay than I can offer? So they can leave in 2 months once they find a better position?

    • Why would you not hire an “overqualified” candidate if they are willing to work? Anyone can leave a job at anytime in most states for no reason. How is being over-qualified any less different than any other concern any employer has about turnover?

    • In my opinion, being overqualified for a position shouldn’t be an issue. You may look at it in this light: the job task will be excellently accomplished if one is overqualified as opposed to being underqualified! Employees come and go…do not stay focused on what happens in 2 months time. Thus, fill the current vecancy with the person who can get the work done!

  6. The 10 years advice tip is NOT RELEVANT for IT!!!!! I am an IT recruiter and I can tell you there is NO NO NO NO NO NO value in experience more than a couple years old. The technology changes so fast that experience from 10 years ago is useless. How many people are still running Windows 03? No one. If you are an IT candidate, please ignore the first piece of advice on this post!!!!

    • Not entirely accurate Adam. What about IT Managers or Directors who hold executive-level positions and their primary focus is leading teams, not playing around with different technologies. The field of IT is very diverse, and not everyone in IT is a “techie” so to speak.

  7. It depends on the country really. In Italy I would say you are burned after 35. You don’t put your age in there, HR does not even read your CV. The idea is to hire people who are in their 20s and with a degree. Experience is a minor issue as you can leverage on low salaries. It is how it works here and it’s always been like that. No chance you are going to find a job if you are 50. Probably you will have to do some random jobs with no contract…

  8. I’ve witnessed first hand a hiring manager throwing 2 and 3 page resumes to the back of the stack during initial screening, because these days the number of job applicants can number in the 100s and even 1000s in big cities. I think it’s pretty much common sense in the gold-fish-attention-span digital age to keep your work experience and accomplishments concise and limited to one page if you expect your resume to actually be fully digested by a hiring manager.

  9. Can anyone tell me how can i reduce my resume to 1 page as it has many details & if i reduce it to 1 page then it’s non-readable by the recruiter.

    • Vasu,

      That’s pretty much the point. Stop worrying about page number, and focus on conveying relevant skills and accomplishments to the reader instead.

  10. Regarding point 2: if someone can’t tell me in 1 page why I should talk to them, they’re unlikely to do it in two. I don’t have a 1 page rule, I have read and interviewed off two page resumes, but they had relevant information listed and had significant experience from 2 similar, but different job types.

    My big pet peeve: don’t list 20 core competences, or 10 design programs you’re fluent in. That just tells me you’re not that qualified on any one thing and its likely other embellishments exist on your résumé.

    • Lynn and Susanna

      Your comments are stupid.
      Who cares what u like. What are your credentials in the industry?!!

      This site is not a Java programmers or some other Handson techie nerds site. U r dealing with ex Bell Executives.

      Please use commonsense, when you post flippant / immature remarks about 1 page is your brain’s ability to understand and or implying that we (Bell Executives) will include how many Dogs we have etc. is ridiculous. All of us (Executives) have hired hundreds of people / saw many 000s of resumes, and HR worked for us. We know!!

      It looks like – somehow (some of you got into this Bell Executive Group) and posting crap. You have no idea what Bell Family is and the Executives are.

      The managers of this group should find out who actually worked at Bell and remove all others.

      I suggest (if you did not work for Bell) – please leave from this group and do not post your immature comments.

  11. I give 10 years, and ‘more work experience and history upon request’, haven’t had very many requests. I think one thing to remember about all of this is that once hiring managers have some basic info about you, name, address, social security number etc., after that, they use other resources to acquaint themselves with you and your background and work history, and if they don’t like what they find, or it doesn’t match up with what you’re trying to tell them about yourself on your resume-thing, it goes and lands in the trash can-thing.

  12. Nick @ ayoungpro.com

    This is a very interesting take on some of the “sacred cows” of resume writing tips. I confess I am confused about not having a one-page resume though. I have heard from many recruiters that a one-page resume is a plus.

  13. These are good points EXCEPT for number three. I am a visual designer and if I were to give out a blah MS Word black and white resume it would look like I wasn’t creative enough to come up with something attractive. I agree with not overdoing it, but my resume is colorful and formatted well, and I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it. So I think you need to consider the industry before making that sort of blanket statement.

  14. @PEGGY:thank you ma’am for having sense enough to utilize a reasonable standard of hiring procedure. a well written cover letter based on the relation to the person and their relevant experience to the job or how their skills translate should be the criteria for what gets you the all important interview.

    @SUSANNA:by this logic does that mean that for five years experience you would have a half page resume?

    @MAXIMUS:I appreciate your honesty sir. It is however still saddening news to confirm,that my fears often times are reality,that some hiring attitudes and practices around the world to this day have not out grown the infantile innate fear from generations past. Mankind has advanced so far technologically yet we have almost regressed emotionally and psychically. A collective of wounded psyches inflicting hate and pain and destruction.

  15. As an experienced recruiter, i can see the point when some candidates try to hide their age. With all the law against age discrimination, it still happens. Clients would reject a candidate because of age and lets face the fact, the possiblity of having a younger blood, easier to mold and yes cheaper in most cases is enough for any manager to avoid hiring more seasoned players.

    I will be surpised if a recruiter turns around and says he/she hasnt seen clients exhibiting discrimination related to race, age or nationality. ON my part, have had that from a multinational client and subsequent was nearly taken to court for race discrimination.

    Hope things get better

    • I’m wondering how age discrimination works when you have one applicant that is 40, but looks 30. More education, much work history, more life experience, but no management experience. Then you have a 50 yr old applicant (let us keep it to women since women seem to have a much harder time getting management positions), she has less education than the other, more life experience and management experience. But she is 50.

      What will the employer do? Hire the 40 year old? Hire the 50 year old? I’m thinking the employer would hire the 40 year old since the 50 year old may only work for a “good” 10 – 15 years. The 40 yr old can work for the employer 20 or 25 years.

      I’d like to know what really happens in the working world? Can a 40 yr old with the same exact amount of work exp as the 50 yr old – could the employer hire the 50 yr old due to “more life experience”? How much does personality go into deciding who is hired.

      I myself am pushing 40 and I’m scared as hell when I hit 40. Will I get hired after 40? Will 30 yr olds get jobs that I’m up against? Men don’t have this problem when looking for work – when THEY hit 40. I guess it is that old myth that women always need to look tall and young. It is almost the opposite. Men with gray hair look wise. Women with gray hair just look old. It is sexism and age discrimination all rolled up in one.

  16. After over 25 years in HR, networking in my field has taught me that resume “guidelines” are nearly as individual as the HR professionals themselves. Put 10 HR professionals in a room and they are likely to say 10 different things about how long resumes should be, how far back in history to go, whether to list jobs that were short and temporary, [insert presumed industry standard]. I met someone who believes all resumes should be one page. I met another person who doesn’t care how long a resume is so long as the content is dynamic, compelling, and relevant to the position. I’ve met others who expect a two-page limit while others say three. This variation of right and wrong is another reason why applicants are frustrated and down-right angry.

    • I could not agree more! There really is no one magic formula that works for everyone. With so much conflicting advice and fierce competition, there is good reason to be frustrated as a job seeker.

      Going back more than 10 years probably won’t help you if the technology or job techniques are completely irrelevant to the position for which you are applying. One, two or three pages? Hard to say. Fancy fonts? Might be helpful if you are applying for a creative position.

      My take: be honest, proofread and customize for each position.

    • I totally agree! I have been told conflicting information by outplacement services to the employment development department. It’s extremely frustrating because no gets back to you.

  17. hmmm. some good points that are obvious and common sense. #4… well, never lie. ever. But what would compel you to ask: “Why would you hide your age from your resume just to waste everyone’s time if you’re really that afraid of being discriminated against?” This seems like a novice giving career advice. Age is not something that should be factored into a resume, nor during an interview. As a matter of fact, it is illegal to ask for a person’s age. period. There is a process that includes an interview and then HR review of ALL paperwork. Then on your point on listing ALL jobs…on resume, not necessary. THAT IS what HR paperwork is for and your resume should be catered to the job your posting for and relevancy of your experience. My advice: Go to a real PRO and ask them about career advice.

  18. As a previous hiring manager , the self written cover letter that explains why you are applying for my job and how you will impact my company and how your experience fits or translates is more important than the number of previous jobs.

    Very few companies will provide a reference check that tells you more than confirmation details, so this letter of introduction and the in- person interview are paramount. NEVER LIE..it’ll come back at you. And SPELL CHECK yourself..shows attention to detail and pride.

  19. I disagree on your point #2. As you mentioned, resumes should be succinct and tailored to the job. I’ve received multiple resumes with 5+ pages, and guess what it includes? Cover page (just the name if you can believe it), description of his/her job even if he/she held the same position with various companies, list of people who can provide references, high school accomplishment from someone who has a university degree, and how many dogs they have….etc. This guideline is not something a college kid dreamed up. It is an accepted standard used at top MBA programs in the USA.

    And on point #1, yes, I agree you should not limit yourself to 10 years, but the fact of the matter for most people is that the most relevant skills would be based on their past 10 years’ of work experience.

    The good rule of thumb is 1 page of resume per 10 years of experience. So those who are just starting out or within 10 years of work experience, I believe it is a good rule to go by.

  20. If Careers Plus Resumes is publishing an article about items to avoid on a resume, with the thought they will be getting more clients, perhaps they should avoid two other common mistakes in their own article–1) Only put correct information on the resume and 2) use words in the correct context.

    In the first sentence of the second paragraph, “We are living in the 20th century and technology is advancing at an exorbitant rate.” The first mistake is that we are living in the 21st century, not the 20th. The second is the misuse of the term exorbitant. On Dictionary.com, exorbitant means “exceeding the bounds of custom, propriety, or reason, especially in amount or extent; highly excessive: to charge an exorbitant price; exorbitant luxury.” Technology does not increase at an exorbitant rate, it can increase exponentially, like in Moore’s law but not exorbitant.

    I just signed up and started receiving emails from Careerealism and like the articles very much. But this one, while the tips are good, reflects poorly on the organization posting the article.

    • Synonyms of exorbitant: enormous, exacting, extortionate, extreme, high

      Sorry, but the use of exorbitant is correct in this statement. Learn the English language Jeffrey.

      • Kevin,
        Nice to avoid the error in the century. However, if you knew English, a synonym is not the same as a definition. Exorbitant refers mainly to price-per the dictionary, not a thesaurus. You do know the difference, right? Just because something is a synonym, it does not make it an exact match. To make it simpler for you, you could stretch the definition a little and say a scooter is a synonym of a BMW because they both provide transportation but, we all know that if you want a high performance car, you wouldn’t buy a scooter–understand the difference Kev?

  21. Point 1 & 2 are very common among ‘experts’ who advise it repeatedly. As this article mentions, these need to be pondered over and used with discretion. For instance, I have changed careers thrice over the past 18 years and I mention every one of them (though the previous ones in brief, while I elaborate on the most recent one). The reason being that recruiters and hiring managers need to be shown that though I made career transitions, they are interlinked and inter-related with transferable skills carried forward to newer careers. Besides, it states that one can adapt to newer professions, not to mention the urge to learn, unlearn, and relearn.
    Similarly, having a 1 page Resume for a mid-senior professional doesn’t do justice to their career history. In such cases, starting with a career summary and going on list accomplishments later in the Resume of 2-3 pages (or more) should be fine. The summary gives an idea of what one has to offer, while the subsequent details are for those who want to know more.

    • Ramesh,

      I agree completely. Obviously this post has upset some of these “amateurish” advice givers the writer was talking about in the article. Truth be told, eliminating IMPORTANT and RELEVANT information to a job that is being targeted is not a good idea. The “one-page” theory is nothing more than a rumor that has infected the industry by poor advice from “lazy” resume writers who want to take their clients’ money just to slap together a one page document in a hurry.

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