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20 Things Recruiters Do Not Want to See on Your Resume

20 Things Recruiters Do Not Want to See on Your Resume

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” – Unknown

Recruiters have to get through hundreds of resumes in a short time. Research suggests that the average hiring manager takes less than one minute to peruse a resume. Other studies show that they can do this initial check in six seconds. Larger companies use applicant tracking software to make the initial selection and they do that in a split second! So, what are they looking for and what should you avoid mentioning? You have to try and get inside the typical recruiter’s mindset, which will reflect what is in the job description. If you can do that, you can enormously improve your resume. Here are 20 things that will guarantee your resume ends up in the trash:

1. They do not want to see your life history.

Many applicants want to present a comprehensive resume and include all sorts of irrelevant information. For example, you might include summer jobs which are of no real interest to the recruiting manager.

The solution is to include information about experience and skills which are closely related to the job you are seeking. If the company is looking for someone with marketing skills, the manager will be looking for lots of relevant examples and successes in your marketing. If these are not prominent, then your resume is headed for the bin.

2. They do not want to see a messy and untidy resume.

This is a real turn off for recruiters because they cannot find the information they want quickly. The best approach is to be as clear and concise as possible. Mention your name, present position and then relevant experience by mentioning the posts you have held. Make sure you put in start and finishing dates and use bullet points to mention responsibilities and main achievements.

3. They do not want to see your photo or other pictures.

Generally, the photo on the resume is superfluous. Also, the hiring manager does not want to be influenced by gender issues. Why should she waste one second of those precious six viewing your stunning beauty?

As we live in such a visual age, your photo is going to pop up sooner or later, for example on your LinkedIn page. The best thing to do is to make sure that your page does actually have your photograph!

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4. They do not want to see vague objective statements.

Writing about your rather vague objective of gaining more skills and experience is a real turn off for the hiring manager. A classic one which cuts no ice at all is, “Seeking a challenging position that offers professional growth.”

Focus instead on this job. Concentrate on listing your experience and skills which will help you to land the job. Read the job description again and again to make sure you have matched up the requirements with what you have to offer.

5. They do not want to see irrelevant personal details.

Let us suppose that your church and sporting activities are not applicable to the job you are seeking. If that is the case, they are superfluous and should not be on your resume. The same goes for marital status and other personal details. Most of these are, in fact, illegal for a hiring manager to ask during an interview. So why include them in the first place?

If, on the other hand, you were managing public relations for a charity in your spare time and are applying for a job with a similar profile, then by all means, mention this.

6. They do not want to see your skills that everyone else has.

When job applicants mention that they are completely at ease with the latest versions of Microsoft Office and Excel, hiring managers will yawn. Everyone working in modern offices have these skills.

If you are working on software development and applying as a software developer, then it might be relevant. If it is just part of your normal skills set for routine jobs, then do not mention this at all.

7. They do not want to see unexplained gaps in your resume.

Courses, lay offs or even getting fired can result in a gap in your resume. Maybe you went freelance for a while? Employers and managers are familiar with this and there is no problem with a gap.

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When you are not prepared to explain the gaps or put a positive spin on them, then there may be an issue. If the courses or freelance jobs improved your skills in certain areas, then by all means include them and relate them to the skills required for this new position.

8. They do not want to see fancy fonts or creative formats.

Did you know that many tracking systems strip out all the fancy stuff and the actual viewing format a manager sees is in plain text? This means that, in many cases, your creative talents will go unnoticed and are a waste of time. If the manager is actually reading the hard copy or attachment, then creative formats may be a distraction and a hindrance. The solution is to keep it simple, clear and concise.

9. They do not want to see empty and poorly managed social profiles.

Yes, your social media profiles are looked at in the job hiring process. In one survey, more than one third of the recruiters are looking at these to filter candidates. Some estimates say that 92% of companies are using social media in their hiring process. If your LinkedIn or Google+ pages are not showing useful and stimulating content, nor connecting sufficiently with people in your industry, then forget it.

Always make sure that you are up to date with developments in your industry and that you are actively engaged. Show that you are a resource and help your connections solve problems.

10. They do not want to see resumes written in the first person.

Yes, they know it is YOU who is applying so there is no need to overuse the word ‘I’. Most applicants start with ’Responsible for’ which is another way of saying ‘I was responsible for’. The best approach is to make it much more action oriented and start the sentence with ‘Managed…’ ‘Co-ordinated…’, ‘Designed….’, Cut costs….’ Resolved issues……’ and ‘Led a team of 10…..’.

11. They do not want to see your duties listed.

All the day to day stuff you do to keep afloat is not necessary and nobody wants to know, least of all the hiring manager. They just assume you know how to do these! Instead, focus on results you have achieved, how you increased revenues, cut costs or how you played a key role in improving productivity.

12. They do not want vague statements of success.

When you state that you have achieved something, you need to quantify it. It is not enough to say that you completed X project within the deadline. You need to go into more detail.

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A good example would be: “Played a key role in the opening of a new branch. Since inception, client numbers have tripled. There are at present 600 individual client files, with about 33% of these active at any one time.”

13. They do not want to see just a list of bullet points.

It may seem easier on the eye at first but when hiring managers are presented with only bullet points, it is actually difficult to read. The ideal resume will contain a mix of sentences interspersed with bullet points which are best for lists of figures or facts.

14. They do not want to see lies or exaggerated claims.

The hiring manager wants the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Some applicants think that a lie here or there is not going to matter one way or the other. They can also embellish their successes with exaggerated claims. Stick to the truth!

15. They do not want to see your work email address.

Hiring managers do not want to contact you at your present workplace, for obvious reasons. It is also safer and more confidential for you. Always leave a personal email address which has your real name, rather than your ‘cute’ email address.

16. They do not want to see a line about references.

Did you know that 99% of applicants write a line stating, “References are available on request”? This is a waste of a line because space is precious when you have to keep your resume to a maximum of two pages.

A much better idea is to leave that out and have a list of reference names ready, should you be asked for them at the interview. Make sure that you have already contacted them so that they are ready to give you a reference, if requested.

17. They do not want to see a one-size-fits-all resume.

You apply for lots of jobs and you always send the same resume. This is a grave error because each job is different requiring particular skill sets, experience and so on.

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Remember that each recruiter is looking for a resume that matches their company profile and the skill set for a particular position. A one size fits all resume can never do that.

18. They do not want to see cover letters.

There is a fair amount of debate about this but the consensus is that a cover letter is actually clogging up vital space and time. No one reads it. Sometimes, though, a cover letter is required. It will depend on the company where you are applying. So pay attention to whether one is asked for.

The best solution is to concentrate on hard hitting statements in your resume which match the skills sets and experience and qualifications required.

19. They do not want to see your cool Word Header feature.

Many applicants want to make a good impression by using the Word header feature with their name. It looks prominent and cool. They are unaware that some scanning software cannot read this header, so your resume ends up as being from an anonymous applicant! Basically, stick to more conventional methods for displaying your name at the top.

20. They do not want to see positions dating back more than 15 years.

Did you know that ageist attitudes are still rife in the job market? By listing all the positions you have held since graduation means that you are going too far back. There is no need to put the date on things like your degree. The general rule of thumb is to cap a limit of 15 years so that it does not become a historical or autobiographical document.

As we have seen, a resume is rather like an advertisement in which you show off your main features to entice the hiring manager to actually find out more. If you avoid the 20 mitakes above, you could land that dream job. Good luck!

Featured photo credit: College of DuPage Internship Expo 2014 1/COD Newsroom via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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