Recently, surveyed 2500 recruiters across the US and Canada to find out the top “Pet Peeves” recruiters have about resumes that result in a resume being tossed in the excluded pile. These recruiters dealt with varied specialties and industries, such as, Engineering, IT, Sales and Marketing, Administrative, Finance, etc.

Recruiters receive hundreds of resumes a day, so they must narrow down the “keepers” through the process of elimination. According to executive search recruiter Terry Cantrell of Panama City, Florida, “People often try to write a resume so generic that a reader has no idea what industry the candidate comes from. Did they manufacture fertilizer, package cow chips, cook and distribute potato chips or assemble computer chips? … I am usually looking for a reason to exclude resumes, not a reason to include them.”

More often than not, your resume will be the only tool to let your reader know why you would be the right person for the job. According to Mike Worthington at, “Just because you have 20 years of experience, does not necessarily mean you have a good resume. It simply means you have 20 years of experience…. You may have all the necessary skills and experience, but the way you present yourself through your resume can tell your reader all they need to know.”

Listed below are the Top 20 Resume “Pet Peeves,” starting with the biggest problems.

  1. Spelling errors, typos and poor grammar
  2. Too duty oriented – reads like a job description and fails to explain what the job seeker’s accomplishments were and how they did so
  3. Missing dates or inaccurate dates
  4. Missing contact Info, inaccurate, or unprofessional email addresses
  5. Poor formatting – boxes, templates, tables, use of header and footers, etc.
  6. Functional resumes as opposed to chronological resumes
  7. Long resumes – over 2 pages
  8. Long, dense paragraphs – no bullet-points
  9. Unqualified candidates – candidates who apply to positions they are not qualified for
  10. Personal info not relevant to the job
  11. Missing employer Info and/or not telling what industry or product candidate worked in
  12. Lying and misleading – especially in terms of education, dates and inflated titles
  13. Objectives or meaningless introductions
  14. Poor font choice or style
  15. Resumes sent as PDF files, Zip files, faxes, or mailed resumes; i.e. not sent as a WORD attachment
  16. Pictures, graphics or URL links that no recruiter will call up
  17. No easy-to-follow summary
  18. Resumes written with 1st person references, or in the 3rd Person
  19. Gaps in employment
  20. Burying important info in the resume

Be sure your resume does not rank high on your reader’s “pet peeve” list. Know how to market your skills and present your background in a way that captures the interest of your reader. Typically, if your resume contains even a few of these “pet peeves,” it likely will be tossed aside or deleted, and your chance at that job will be lost.

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