Five Little Resume Mistakes that Tell Employers You’re a Risk

Posted by Bill Branstetter

To the best of your knowledge, your resume is perfect. You ran it through the spell checker three times just to make sure it didn’t miss anything the first two times. You even had your uncle Dave look it over because he hired a guy once and he knows a thing or two about resumes. So why aren’t you getting the kind of responses you were hoping for? Check your resume for these all-too-common little mistakes that tell employers you are a risky candidate.

1) You don’t use a professional email address. Your resume makes the first impression of your caliber as a professional. When you use an email address such as angelofdeath@, hotmama@, and no1belieber@ on your resume, you get a -1 for professionalism. Your email address should be as close to first.last@ as you can get.  Here’s proof:

2) You use a special email address for your job search. If you use an email address such as davesjobsearch@ or, it suggests you’re on the job market so often that you need a separate account. Employers are looking for signs of stability and tenure. This sends the wrong message.

3) You don’t include a phone number. You probably have a great reason for leaving your phone number off of your resume. Maybe you prefer to be contacted by email or maybe you work in an environment in which you can’t receive calls. Unfortunately for you, top recruiters prefer to pick up the phone and speak with their candidates. If a recruiter has a stack of resumes and yours is the only one without a phone number, you will likely get passed over.

4) The position you really want and the position you’re applying for are obviously different. When your objective statement says, “Pursuing a cybersecurity position supporting the federal government” and you apply for a customer service job in the private sector, you come across as settling for any job you can get. The employer will know that you are going to keep looking for your dream job and will not be a long-term employee. The fix is to tailor your objective statement and accomplishment statements to the job you are applying for. Similarly, when your education section says you are about to finish a degree in nursing and you apply for a position in an unrelated field, it tells the employer you are going to jump ship as soon as you can find a nursing job. It’s better to leave this off your resume.

5) You look like a quitter. Life happens. You started a degree program, ran out of money, and had to drop out. You completed the certification course, took the exam three times, but couldn’t pass. You put your incomplete degree and your certification courses on your resume thinking they will show prospective employers that you value continuing education. But what you’re really telling them is that you aren’t willing or able to finish what you start. Right or wrong, it raises a red flag. That’s why, unless you are currently enrolled, it’s better to leave unfinished education off of your resume. This becomes more and more important the longer you’ve been out of the program.

It is costly in both time and resources to hire the wrong person (and it’s just plain annoying to have to refill a position).  Your resume needs to tell the employer that you are a professional, that you are qualified for the position, and that you will be a long-term fit for the opportunity.

Bill BranstetterBill Branstetter is a corporate IT Recruiter, HR Director, Facility Security Officer and IT Manager for ASG in San Antonio, TX. He’s also the author of The Six Second Resume. Follow Bill on Twitter @billbranstetter.


This entry was posted on Monday, April 06, 2015 6:58 am

3 thoughts on “Five Little Resume Mistakes that Tell Employers You’re a Risk”

  1. Bill,

    Thanks for the informative tips. In this competitive job market, any positive information is a plus.

    1. Sometimes it is appropriate to consolidate multiple contracts into a single section. This is especially true when you’ve supported the same customer under several contractors.

Leave a Reply

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

Notify me of updates to this conversation