Are You Writing Bad Resumes?

Nancy Anderson
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You may feel as if you have to cram every last detail of your professional life into a one-page resume. However, this simply isn't the case as a good resume is all quality over quantity. Discover tips to avoid submitting a bad resume that can ruin your job search.

"References Available Upon Request"

Just about every HR staffer, hiring manager and recruiter needs to see your references. A bad resume wastes space with this phrase as you should already have a separate list of references. These references include past supervisors and colleagues who can vouch for your work ethic, experience and qualifications.

Long Blocks of Text

Instead of having one long paragraph of text, break up the block into easy-to-read bullet points. The person reading the resume finds your most important information more readily when there is plenty of white space between sentences.

Too Much Experience

A bad resume tries to cram in every single job you've ever had in your life. Companies are much more interested in your most recent and most relevant experience. If you're applying for a sales manager job at age 35, and worked for three months at a fast food place when you were 15, you can leave off the first job you had as a teenager.

Irrelevant Experience

Keep your experience relevant to the position at hand, even if you held a recent job that differs from the scope of the one for which you're applying. List the high-quality jobs where you earned skills, qualifications and experiences that relate to the current job.

Objective Statement

A bad resume has an objective section even though the objective of a resume is fairly clear: you're on a job search and want a job. Traditionally, candidates listed an objective as the first section of a resume underneath the contact information. Instead, summarize a career bio with four to five bullet points of your highest-level professional traits that highlight why your qualifications are well-suited to this position.

Personal Information

Leave off any personal information from your resume. If your future employer wants to discuss what you do with your time off, your family or personal interests, those topics usually come up in an interview. You might include a hobby if it proves you earned experience relevant to the position.

Salary History

Salary history is often included with a bad resume. However, this topic rarely surfaces, even during salary negotiations. You don't have to talk about how much you made previously to present your case for the salary you want. Research current salary trends in your field to enter into negotiations with a stronger position as you try to obtain the salary you deserve.

The hallmark of a bad resume is that it tries to do too much with very little space on the page. Instead, a great resume offers an employer a snapshot of your professional life, and then the real conversation happens during the interview when the employer asks for more details.

Photo courtesy of Julie Walraven at


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  • John k.
    John k.

    Hello, thanks for the advise and the update about bad resume, in the past five years I had graduated twice from diverse discipline and my resume had been checked and verified by proffesional friends of HR bacground, I studied in that field too, it doesn't help that much. What am coming to realize is that I think we are living at different times and different world no matter how good and perfect your resume may sound or look, employers choose who they want for various, not because you have it straight.

  • Debra Grant
    Debra Grant

    Great advice

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Roger F yes this is a new and growing trend to do testing as the major part of the interview. If you don't make it through the tests, interview over. So I think it's a good way to weed out those who truly lied on their resumes and applications to those who would be a good fit for the position. @Sid sidhu there is no one good answer for age discrimination. It's so hard to really prove. You can't prove that, just because you didn't get the job, age was the reason. Could be many factors that went into the decision. All you can do is make yourself look as young as possible on your resume - such as only showing the past 10 years and removing grad dates if it's been more than 10 years. True you can't do this on everything as some apps require dates before you can continue. But, if you can get away with just sending a resume in, then remove your college grad date and don't include HS. Show only pertinent information and try to keep it to a minimum. I have gotten away with saying - I am 62. Why? How old are you? It kind of sits them on their heels and then we can laugh about it and move on. Doesn't always work but sometimes it can be an ice breaker.

  • Roger F.
    Roger F.

    Some good advice! I've noticed some companies giving tests that cover everything from specific accomplishments, to questions about your overall psychological attitude.

  • Sid sidhu
    Sid sidhu

    For myself it has always been the age discrimination, any solutions? I guess not

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. @Mel S thanks for that. Sometimes adding something unusual is enough to make you stand out from the crowd. Glad that it worked for you and thanks for adding the cautionary note that it doesn't always work. @Rhett H. it probably is hard to distance yourself from the stigma of being in the oilfields. If you have the opportunity, include your requested salary on your cover letter. That way the hiring manager won't have to guess what you are seeking in compensation and will, instead, be able to concentrate on what you have to offer in the form of skills and experience. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone but, in your case, it may help. @Frank Summerfield it sounds like you are struggling to find jobs that best fit your skills and experience. Job boards abound these days. Also go for a different twist by job searching on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you are still struggling, you might need to consider finding a recruiter who specializes in your field. In addition, have you registered with any temp agencies? Great way to get your foot in the door and get hired. I have just seen this in action as my son-in-law went through just such a process. He was struggling so I recommended a temp agency to him. He interviewed with them on a Friday and was offered a position on the spot. He worked as a temp for 6 months and now is a permanent employee. Hope these suggestions help. All the best.


    I have enough resume writing experience to be a coach. amy problem is finding jobs I want and can fill. Best suggestions?

  • Rhett H.
    Rhett H.

    Eva C, you're correct about companies wanting to know your old salary, but they really have no business even asking. It's insulting that they assume the applicant doesn't have an idea of the possible salary. Especially with those of us who have been laid off for a year or more, a person who wants to work really isn't going to squabble as long as the job can pay the bills. Most people this day will be glad to go back to to work and start over, especially those of us who were in administrative oilfield jobs but still carry the oilfield stigma of being an expensive employee. I think I speak for many Houstonians who are reading this. Good article though.

  • Mel S.
    Mel S.

    Some good points here. However, I'll add a couple of considerations. Things that impress HR Departments and people working there, can vary greatly. I can honestly say that I've included some "unusual" things (out of frustration) that actually got me a job. Normally, weird or irrelevant inclusions are ill-advised. If you put yourself in the place of screening applications, you can probably get an idea of their concerns. Reviewing lots of applications can be frustrating. Reviewing lots of similar applications can be downright annoying. Finding that balance of basic information coupled with the ability to stand out in the crowd is the winning combination. But if it was easy to do, everyone would find employment much easier.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Marsha Still thanks for your comment. If you are getting interviews, it doesn't sound like it's your resume. But, to be sure, you could have your resume written by a professional. We offer resume writing service here How do you feel when you leave the interview? Do you feel that they are interested or do you just walk out and say - well chalk that one up for experience as they will never call me? After the interview are you following up with a hand-written thank you note? Something you might want to consider is going through a recruiter in your industry. They could assist you with your resume and could even help you with interview skills if you feel that you need them. Lots of help out there.

  • Marsha Still
    Marsha Still

    I have a resume but I don't think it's working for me. I get a few interviews but I am very qualified for many of the jobs I apply for. I have great interviews but not getting the job. I have moved around a lot so I have had a lot of short term and temp jobs. How can I get help fixing me resume so more employers want to interview me?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @(miss) Mall S. the resume has changed rapidly over just the past few years. It is true that many resume writers are still writing older styled resumes. But now that you have a great basis for your resume, just remove the no-no's and add what you need to make an awesome resume. @Eva C. it is true that some companies may request your salary information before they offer employment but, unless specifically asked for, do not include it on your resume. They do not need to know your salary history before the interview, etc. If they ask during the interview (which is another taboo), then you can decide if you want to give it or not. But it would be good to have a range in mind just in case this question comes up. Personally I would never include my salary on my resume. Salary is personal and is none of their business. That's just my opinion.

  • Eva C.
    Eva C.

    Companies request your latest salary before you're considered for employment. This writer needs to get with the program.

  • (miss) Mall S.
    (miss) Mall S.

    My resume has been rewritten 6 times by ' professionals ' alot of the taboo subjects here are on them.

  • Shirley T.
    Shirley T.

    Great advice need to look at my cv.

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