Why The Last Seven Resumes I Reviewed Failed

Sometimes I just don’t understand what candidates do or don’t do. This is frustrating because so many times I’ve heard from candidates, “I already know that.”  The problem is that candidates think they know it, but in reality either don’t know it or just don’t do it.

Let’s take the example of resumes. Not necessarily my favorite topic, but one that is important. I often review resumes for candidates and I do this strictly from a recruiter’s perspective. Most of the resumes I review are for senior-level executives, many with graduate degrees. I am so often amazed that these senior-level executives expect to be hired, especially in this economy, when they can’t even put together a resume without errors.  Why in the world would a CEO or president expect them to put together a board presentation? The CEO or president would be completely embarrassed.

The following are some common mistakes that I see on a fairly regular basis. I know you don’t need to read these, because these would never happen to you, so consider reading them for all of the other people that need help.

1) Spelling errors. I’m not referring to the obvious ones that a spell checker picks up. I mean the ones a spell checker doesn’t pick up and require proofreading by someone else. Words such as grow not grown, its or it’s, to or too, you’re instead of  your, using the instead of that, using and instead of or, and finally, a lot is two words.

2) Grammar, punctuation or formatting errors. Common problems are overuse of commas, no periods at the end of sentences, capitalizing some words and not others, capitalizing too many words, inconsistent format, phrases that just end, mixing plural verbs with a singular subject, and punctuation marks should go inside quotes and outside parentheses.

3) Incorrect use of words. Neither and nor, either and or, accept and except, lose and loose, a and an, are some mistakes I commonly find.

As a recruiter, I would be embarrassed to present these resumes to a client. What does this say about the executive if they can’t put together a resume without common errors? Don’t they have these proofed? What kind of presentation would they make, what would their reports look like, and how many errors would be in a white paper? One has to ask themselves these questions when reviewing a resume with these types of errors.

I am by no means an English major, and I sure have made many mistakes writing articles. I know this because people seem to get pleasure out of pointing out my mistakes. I have learned a lot from these comments. However, a blog article is not a resume. There is a big difference in the two. If I were submitting this article to Fortune or the WSJ, I would pay to have it professionally edited.  Like it or not, a resume has to be perfect. That is the standard. I didn’t set the standard, I just live by it and you should too.

    Please help yourself. Take the time to have others proof your resume. Invest in a professional to edit it. Don’t DOUBLE check your resume, TRIPLE check it, and then check it one more time just to be sure.

    Remember the golden rule, when in doubt check it out. Here is an excellent site to use to check http://www.grammarbook.com/english_rules.asp

    Since all of the people reading this article never make these mistakes, one has to wonder (not wander) why I wrote the article.

    One final point, these same principles apply to cover and thank you letters.

    I hope this helps all of those other people that make these mistakes.

    I welcome your thoughts and comments, even those that will surely point out errors in this article.

    If this was helpful to you, please help others by posting it to your LinkedIn groups, Facebook page or Twitter.

    To download the free chapter on Conducting an Effective Phone Interview from our book “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resources link.

    If you would like to know if your job search is fully utilized and you are doing the right things, download our free Job Search Self- Assessment Scorecard. CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resource link.


    Brad Remillard


    About the Author

    Brad Remillard is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.


    • By Becky, October 18, 2010 @ 9:11 am

      I love this post. It’s exactly what we all need to hear, over and over again. Writers have editors for a reason; why shouldn’t the resume you wrote?

    • By Jim, October 18, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

      I’m sure you just let this error through to see who would catch it! “require proofreading by some else.”

    • By Howie Appel, October 28, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

      Very good article Brad. I write resumes and see many very embarrassing typos. When I point them out I mention that its better that I point them out than a corporate recruiter or (worse yet) hiring manager point it out and hit the “deselect” button. I totally agree and I do go along with the disclaimer, “have 12 people look at your resume, you’ll get 12 perspectives, hopefully some will be the same”. Kudos to you.

    • bradremillard

      By bradremillard, October 29, 2010 @ 8:27 am

      Thanks Howie I appreciate the comments. Seems this is not unique to recruiters.

    • By Ivan, November 1, 2010 @ 9:39 am

      I’ve heard conflicting advice on periods at the end of the last sentence of a bullet point. What is your take on that?

    • bradremillard

      By bradremillard, November 3, 2010 @ 8:33 am

      I don’t care one way or the other. What is important is to be consistent. Too often we see resume where some bullet points have them and others don’t. Just be consistent.

    • By Lucinda DeVries, November 9, 2010 @ 10:05 am

      I have to say that when I first started sending out my resume and cover i thought they were perfect. In the first 3 months I sent them out about 300 times. I was so proud of my efforts and was disappointed with my results. I did get a couple calls until one day I was in the process of re-working my cover letter when I realized I had a whole sentence that didn’t make any sense. I was so embarrassed! I am very careful now when I send it out. Mistakes happen but as you said, they can’t when looking for a job! Especially when you are a communications professional.

    • bradremillard

      By bradremillard, November 11, 2010 @ 8:36 pm

      Lucinda; Glad you caught the mistakes and thanks for being honest. It can happen to anyone. That is why I wrote this.

    • By Dee Smith, November 28, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

      As a former hiring manager, I have seen some awful resuems. One of my pet peeves is the its/it’s error.

      Looking forward to reading your book!

    • By Pedro Velez, February 22, 2011 @ 11:26 am

      Thank you very much for your article. I am struggling to find a job and I think it is because of my resume. What suggestion would you give to people with little experience in the field when they write their resume?

    • By Patrice, November 3, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

      Thank you for your great article Brad. I enjoy reading a resume, or website for that matter, that has been proofed and doesn’t contain grammatical or spelling errors. You are so right in your comments about how these errors are perceived by the reader.

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