Résumé Killers – A Recruiter’s Perspective


Whatever your desired career field, these are a few of the surest ways we have seen to propel your résumé no further than the company trash can.

Typos, Spelling and Grammar Errors

Obvious typos,spelling and grammar errors scream lack of effort, if not lack of intelligence. That sounds harsh, and even the best writers make occasional errors when they write, but your résumé needs to be free of them.

Employers don’t know you yet – all they have is the brief, typed page sitting it front of them; there isn’t opportunity to explain errors or ask for errors to be overlooked in the interest of your other notable strengths.

Rob Walker, “The Workologist” column writer for New York Times, tackled the topic of “sloppy résumés” in his response to a question about whether or not a candidate with an error-filled résumé should still be hired. His expounds, “Multiple résumé typos definitely seem like a deal breaker: It’s such an easy problem to fix that it suggests a deeper carelessness or lack of attention to detail.”

Take the time to proofread. Print out your document and have others proofread for you. The extra effort is worth it.

Inappropriate Appearance

We’re putting everything from distractingly-flamboyant design to poor formatting in this category.

When an employer has stacks of résumés of get through, applicants who cannot come up with formatting that facilitates an easy reading of their résumé will likely be passed over.

Richard H. Beatty, writing for the Wall Street Journal, explains, “You don’t want to make the staffing professional’s work even more difficult by presenting a poorly prepared résumé that’s sloppy, difficult to read, or otherwise complicates the matter. If you do, it probably will be immediately rejected. The recruiter is likely to move quickly to the next résumé without even a second’s thought. Having a well-designed, easy-to-read résumé is critical to making the cut. Anything short of this is sure to land your résumé in the ‘no interest’ pile in less than a New York minute.”

Some formatting errors are obvious, such as illegible or distracting fonts. Others can be harder to pinpoint, like failing to keep your text (including headings and bullet points) uniform, taking no notice of large amounts of whitespace (or no whitespace at all), or allowing key information (like name and contact information) to be camouflaged.

If these formatting errors aren’t obvious to you, make sure to print out your résumé and ask someone who does have an eye for basic design for input.


This advice shouldn’t be secluded to the realm of résumé writing, but we are definitely including it here. Don’t lie on your résumé. Depending on the lie, it may or may not take a bit longer for this to get your résumé trashed, but the trashing is inevitable.

We’re not the only ones who think so. Tamara Star, a professional consultant and recruiter writing for The Huffington Post, warns, “Let me remind you: in today’s digital world, it’s impossible to hide ANYTHING. The truth always comes to light, so it’s far better to include a job gap, lack of degree, or short tenure than to attempt hiding it. The minute you’re caught hiding something, your credibility goes right out the window – regardless of explanation…”
The mistakes we’ve mentioned here are résumé killers; even the best candidate would have a difficult time finding a job if his or her résumé was not free from these bungles. Make sure your résumé isn’t being trashed before you’ve had a chance to show a company your value as a candidate.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *