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CareerBuilder Releases Study of Common and Not-So-Common Resume Mistakes That Can Cost You the Job

CHICAGO, Sept. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Making a good first impression in a job search often starts with a memorable resume. Unfortunately for some, "memorable" doesn't always translate to "hirable."  In a recent study, CareerBuilder discovered some of the most bizarre missteps job seekers have made with their resumes. The nationwide study was conducted online by Harris Interactive© from May 14 to June 5, 2013, among 2,076 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 2,999 workers across industries. 

Most Outrageous Resume Mistakes
When asked to share the most memorable and unusual applications they've been sent, hiring managers gave the following real-life examples:

  • Resume was submitted from a person the company just fired
  • Resume's "Skills" section was spelled "Skelze"
  • Resume listed the candidate's objective as "To work for someone who is not an alcoholic with three DUI's like my current employer"
  • Resume included language typically seen in text messages (e.g., no capitalization and use of shortcuts like "u")
  • Resume consisted of one sentence: "Hire me, I'm awesome"
  • Resume listed the candidate's online video gaming experience leading warrior "clans," suggesting this passed for leadership experience
  • Resume included pictures of the candidate from baby photos to adulthood
  • Resume was written in Klingon language from Star Trek
  • Resume was a music video
  • Resume didn't include the candidate's name
  • On the job application, where it asks for your job title with a previous employer, the applicant wrote "Mr."
  • Resume included time spent in jail for assaulting a former boss

How long should a resume be?
Employers have different expectations for resume length based on tenure in the workforce. For new college graduates, 66 percent of employers said a resume should be one page long. For seasoned workers, the majority of employers (77 percent) said a resume should be at least two pages. 

The survey revealed somewhat of a disconnect between employer expectations and applicant behavior.  Thirty-nine percent of workers ages 45 and older reported that their resume is only one page long.

The survey also showed that, although more than half of employers said they only want to see work experience that is relevant to the job at hand (53 percent) and primarily within the last ten years (57 percent), 41 percent of workers ages 45 and older said they include their first job on their resume.

Common Problems
When asked to identify the most common resume mistakes that may lead them to automatically dismiss a candidate, employers pointed to the following:

  • Resumes that have typos - 58 percent
  • Resumes that are generic and don't seem personalized for the position - 36 percent
  • Resumes that don't include a list of skills - 35 percent
  • Resumes that copied a large amount of wording from the job posting - 32 percent
  • Resumes that have inappropriate email address - 31 percent
  • Resumes that don't include exact dates of employment - 27 percent
  • Resumes printed on decorative paper - 22 percent
  • Resumes that include a photo - 13 percent

"Your resume is the primary deciding factor for whether you will land a job interview," said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. "It's important to project a professional image. Keep it succinct, personalize it to feature only skills and experience relevant to the position you're applying for, and always include specific, quantifiable results that showcase the value you can bring to an organization."

Candidates can also run into issues related to how they submit their applications. More than one quarter (26 percent) of employers only accept digital resumes, leaving hard copies sent via the mail unopened. 

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,076 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 2,999 workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between May 14 and June 5, 2013 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 2,076 and 2,999 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-2.15 and +/- 1.79 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.  For full survey methodology, including weighting variables, contact [email protected].

About CareerBuilder®
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site,®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 50 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world's top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and talent and compensation intelligence to recruitment solutions. More than 10,000 websites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder's proprietary job search technology on their career sites. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Jennifer Grasz
[email protected]

SOURCE CareerBuilder

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