7 Things Candidates Can’t Hide in Their Resumes

OK, I’m quite prepared to be shot down in flames from all sides for writing this. Shoot me down anyway for starting this blog with a cliché, but here’s what I (as a former recruiter) and other recruiters can work out while we are reading your resume.

1. You are not a native English speaker

Your English could be text book for the most part, but I can still work out whether it’s your second language, just from a quick read of your resume. You may leave off an “s.” or you use words in the wrong context. Here’s some strange expression I’ve seen lately: “Providing delightful customer service” “Maintain and strengthen customers” “Organizing equipments” “Good skills in….”

If you are new to an Anglophone country, one of the major concerns local employers have about employing you, is how well you communicate. Behind this concern is another concern about how well you’ll fit in. Any incorrect choice of words will fuel any negative stereotypes a recruiter may have about your communication skills. Have a “local” speaker read over your resume before you send it. (Good practice for anyone, really) I receive enough emails from recent arrivals to know cultural stereotyping is a major problem.

2. You are inflating your experience and skills

I have often seen people describe a stint of counter service at McDonalds as: “providing high levels of client service.” While this statement is not incorrect, it is misleading. A client is generally someone whom you deal with more than once. A customer is someone who comes to the counter. Most recruiters know what people do at McDonalds, so this statement just sounds silly. The person who wrote the above has oversold what they actually did and not mentioned what is really challenging or interesting about a job at Maccas. Anyone who works there for any length of time can generally work well under pressure and serve people in a fast paced and highly measured environment. That’s the interesting part.

3. You’re not very confident

Nowhere on your resume can I read anything about you personally. If you do not tell me your strengths or achievements, I am either going to assume you don’t have any, or do not think they are important enough to list. Most of the employers whom we interviewed for the book, want their employees to be “self aware.” They want people to understand their strengths, so they can apply them to the job at hand. Read what they say here on self awareness. I am not talking about a laundry list that sounds like any other person. That’s almost as bad as no strengths at all.

4. You want to keep your age to yourself

I know this because you have not put dates on your study. And fair enough too. Many of the emails I receive are from people worried that they are 40, 50 or above. While I have not seen any out and out age discrimination in my time in recruiting, I receive enough questions and heard enough horror stories about this to know it exists.

5. You lack marketing skills

You haven’t sent me a cover letter or written a career objective on the top of your resume. Reading your resume I have to guess what it is that you want to do.

6. You aren’t really that bothered about this job

Read point five.

7. You do not write very often, or well.

You have too many redundant words on your resume. If you have a list headed “responsibilities, then I do not need to read that you are “responsible for” on the very next line. Other examples are where you say “in order to” instead of just “to” or “planning and strategizing” which are pretty much the same thing.

Further reading at 5 Old-School Sections You Ought To Remove from Your Resume.

Image: Shutterstock

By Karalyn Brown

Karalyn Brown is a resume, interview and job search consultant based in Australia. She’s also an online careers agony aunty, writes frequently on career issues for a major Australian newspaper and talks job search tactics on the national broadcaster. You can visit her blog InterviewIQ or follow her on Twitter @InterviewIQ.