Screening, Assessment, Interviewing

Employers Point Out Instant Deal Breakers on Résumés

In previous articles, Recruiting Daily Advisor has shown you how to spot résumé lies, how to asses exaggerations, and has offered tips for handling false information. A new survey released by CareerBuilder shows how assessing résumé information is more important than ever before, especially in this tight labor market.


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Employers are feeling the heat of the tight labor market as they struggle to find qualified candidates to fill their open jobs. While jobseekers are getting their attention, it’s often for the wrong reasons.

A CareerBuilder survey found that among Human Resource (HR) managers, who are typically the ones who determine which applicants get in front of the actual hiring managers, 75% have caught a lie on a résumé. Some résumés were just not believable at all.

The national survey was conducted online on behalf of CareerBuilder by The Harris Poll between June 21 and July 15, 2018. It included a representative sample of more than 1,100 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes, including 1,023 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 309 HR managers in the private sector.

Most Outrageous Résumé Mistakes

The pressure to make a good first impression quickly is high, as 39% of hiring managers said they spend less than a minute looking at a résumé and 23% spend less than 30 seconds. In their effort to get noticed, however, some candidates are making critical blunders.

The HR managers surveyed shared their most notable and cringe-worthy real-life examples of gaffes found on actual résumés:

  • A 22-year-old applicant claimed three different degrees.
  • An applicant listed 40 different jobs in 1 year.
  • An applicant thought they attached a résumé to an e-mail but instead sent their full credit application for an apartment.
  • An applicant applied for a job for which they were vastly unqualified (e.g. grocery store shelf-stocker applying for a physician position).
  • An applicant referred to having “as many marriages as jobs.”
  • An applicant listed out their extensive arrest history.
  • An applicant’s résumé had a different font type for every sentence.
  • An applicant stated at the bottom of their résumé that they do not like babies or puppies.
  • An applicant’s résumé was only one sentence.
  • An applicant had the same employment dates for every job listed.

You’re Not Hired

An implausible résumé is not the only obstacle preventing jobseekers from getting interviews and job offers. Hiring managers identified the seven most common résumé mistakes jobseekers make that are instant deal breakers:

  • Typos or bad grammar: 77%
  • Unprofessional e-mail address: 35%
  • Résumé without quantifiable results: 34%
  • Résumé with long paragraphs of text: 25%
  • Résumé is generic, not customized to company: 18%
  • Résumé is more than two pages: 17%
  • No cover letter with résumé: 10%

What interesting information have you uncovered from a candidate’s résumé? We want to know! Share your experiences