Why your resume just killed your chances for the job
July 10, 2012
• New survey revealed biggest blunders – and some good ideas
• ‘You have to clearly demonstrate how your unique skills and experience are relevant’
How much attention does your resume get when it lands on the desk of the hiring manager? A minute or less.
That’s one of the findings of a recent study of resumes and their part in the hiring process by the online jobs site CareerBuilder.com.
Forty percent of hiring managers don't spend more than a minute with an individual resume, but sometimes there’s a resume that just sticks in the mind. Not because it leads to hiring a great candidate. Au contraire.
CareerBuilder’s study of 2,298 hiring managers nationwide provides real-life examples of resumes that stood out for the right – and wrong – reasons, and explores common pitfalls to avoid. The study was conducted online by Harris Interactive from May 14, to June 4.
When asked to share the most memorable and unusual applications that came across their desk, hiring managers gave the following examples:
• Candidate called himself a genius and invited the hiring manager to interview him at his apartment.
• Candidate’s cover letter talked about her family being in the mob.
• Candidate applying for a management job listed “gator hunting” as a skill.
• Candidate’s resume included phishing as a hobby.
• Candidate specified that her resume was set up to be sung to the tune of “The Brady Bunch.”
• Candidate claimed to be able to speak “Antartican” when applying for a job to work in Antarctica.
• Candidate applying for an accounting job said he was “deetail-oriented” and spelled the company’s name incorrectly.
Other candidates tried a creative approach, made a positive impression on the employer and, in some cases, were ultimately hired, according to the survey:
• Candidate sent his resume in the form of an oversized Rubik's Cube, where you had to push the tiles around to align the resume. He was hired.
• Candidate who had been a stay-at-home mom listed her skills as nursing, housekeeping, chef, teacher, bio-hazard cleanup, fight referee, taxi driver, secretary, tailor, personal shopping assistant and therapist. She was hired.
• Candidate created a marketing brochure promoting herself as the best candidate and was hired.
• Candidate listed accomplishments and lessons learned from each position. He gave examples of good customer service he provided as well as situations he wished he would have handled differently. He was hired.
• Candidate applying for a food and beverage management position sent a resume in the form of a fine-dining menu and was hired.
• Candidate crafted his resume to look like Google search results for the "perfect candidate." Candidate ultimately wasn’t hired, but was considered.
“One-in-five HR managers reported that they spend less than 30 seconds reviewing applications and around 40 percent spend less than one minute,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “It’s a highly competitive job market and you have to clearly demonstrate how your unique skills and experience are relevant and beneficial to that particular employer. We see more people using infographics, QR codes and visual resumes to package their information in new and interesting ways.”
Common Pitfalls to Avoid
When asked what would make them automatically dismiss a candidate from consideration, employers pointed to the following:
• Resumes with typos – 61 percent
• Resumes that copied large amounts of wording from the job posting – 41 percent
• Resumes with an inappropriate email address – 35 percent
• Resumes that don’t include a list of skills – 30 percent
• Resumes that are more than two pages long – 22 percent
• Resumes printed on decorative paper – 20 percent
• Resumes that detail more tasks than results for previous positions – 16 percent
• Resumes that include a photo – 13 percent
• Resumes that have large blocks of text with little white space – 13 percent
The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive and paid for by CareerBuilder among 2,298 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) ages 18 and over between May 14 and June 4.
Percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions. With pure probability samples of 2,298, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-2.04 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.