Eight Things Hiring Managers Do NOT Want to See on Your Resume

Nancy Anderson
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The way you write your professional resume can make the difference between getting a job right away and staying unemployed for several months. Unfortunately, several resume mistakes are so pervasive that you might be making one of them without even knowing it. Take steps to avoid these resume mistakes at all costs.

1. Photographs

In most cases, you should not include a photograph with your professional resume. Photos take up valuable space that could be better used for outlining your qualifications. Including a photo can also cause some hiring managers to inadvertently discriminate against you because of your appearance.

2. Employment Gaps

Hiring managers are looking for employees with steady work histories. For some, too many employment gaps on a resume indicate potential trouble with a candidate, especially if the gaps are long. If you are ever unemployed for several months, try to fill in the gap on your professional resume by noting how you spent your time. If you obtained a professional certification while you were out of work, for example, it shows hiring managers you used your time wisely.

3. Professional References

Your references do not belong on your professional resume. Most employers don't call references until they are ready to make a job offer, so submitting them on your resume is unnecessary. Remove your list of references, and use the space for something else, such as a list of professional achievements.

4. Links to Social Media

Your professional resume should focus on your qualifications and work history. Including links to social media profiles crosses the boundary between professional information and personal information. If your social media accounts contain anything inappropriate, you might also be giving hiring managers reasons not to hire you.

5. Too Much Text

A professional resume should be as concise as possible. A one- or two-page resume is fine for most industries, with the notable exception of academia. If you are not sure how long your professional resume should be, consult with someone who has more experience in your industry.

6. Falsehoods

Do not embellish anything on your resume or write anything that is not true. The hiring manager may not find out right away, but lies can come back to haunt you later. Your resume should be an accurate representation of your education, work history and professional qualifications.

7. Not Enough Text

You don't need to ramble at length about your qualifications, but your professional resume should have enough text to make hiring managers feel comfortable about interviewing you.

8. Irrelevant Adjectives

When you submit a professional resume, you need to sell yourself on your own merits. Irrelevant adjectives, such as "creative," "friendly," "hard-working" and "intelligent," do not give the hiring manager insight into whether you make a good employee. Remove these words, and replace them with a list of quantifiable achievements.

The format and length of your professional resume are ultimately up to you, but it's important to be aware of professional norms. Submitting a resume that is filled with irrelevant text is not a good way to convince hiring managers you are the perfect applicant.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Syreeta if you have a personal website, by all means include the link in either your resume or cover letter. But I caution here, if you are going to link to that site, you need to keep it up to date and keep it totally professional; no photos of Friday night's beer bash or your latest trip to the beach, etc.. Doesn't do any good to send a link to a site that you have not even visited in quite some time. You can also include a link to your LinkedIn account. I don't think that it would hurt a job seeker to use that link and it could be enough to put you over the top so that they call you in for an interview.

  • Syreeta H.
    Syreeta H.

    This is a very good article. So many career related articles offer a lot of fluff, but this actually offers sound advice. Kathleen I have been reading several articles that recommend having a link to a job seekers have their own professional website, so that they will stand out more to hiring managers. Do you think that truly helps or hurt the job candidate?

  • Christopher Harding
    Christopher Harding

    Nancy - just the right amount of polish to a common-sense manifesto. Bravo!

  • Barbara P.
    Barbara P.

    I really needed these comments as it's been years since I've done a resume. I'm starting fresh. Thanks!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Yussif many jobs are based upon who you know instead of what you know. It's not just in Ghana that you find this dynamic. This is why we always push for job seekers to network, network, network. "Meet" new people through your Beyond account or your Linkedin one - but network.

  • Yussif K.
    Yussif K.

    Thanks for the whole idea on resume I'm from Ghana
    most of our job are here are offered by what we call,
    whom you know type of hiring managers

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Rhea so sorry to hear of your plight. It can be difficult when you have never created an online resume. Just take it one step at a time. Take some time to review some sample resumes online for the position that you are seeking. That will help to get the creative juices flowing and give you an idea of what you want to include on your resume. In your case, you are going to have to find a way to translate your volunteer work into an actual position. When you create a resume, you only want to include the relevant experience typically based upon the past 10 years. You also want to try to keep your resume to one page. Based upon personal experience as well as listening to other job seekers, a two-page resume is a stretch. As to cover letters - unless the job posting specifically states a resume only, yes send a cover letter. Keep in mind that the cover letter is not really about you but about how you can contribute to the company's revenue and bottom line. Again, take the time to do some research, online, for cover letters for the position you are striving for and you will get some great ideas. Wish you all the best in your job search.

  • Rhea Hornback
    Rhea Hornback

    Thank you for posting this. I am having hard time to create resume. I am not used to send resume since I'm from Asia we usually go to the offices and apply directly and hired directly by the company. And I am also having problem creating COVER LETTER, is it really mandatory to create one? My resume pages is like 4 pages, I don't have relevabt jobs but I did a lot of relevant volunteers experienced and lots of training certification. I never got hired so I went back to school I never thought how difficult applying job here in US through electronic websites. I just don't know else what to do. I'm 2 yrs. un employed now, single mom also student. I am having hard time finding job relevant to my experienced. 😭

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Carmen so sorry to hear about the long-term unemployment. It certainly can be rough not having a position. But you know, sometimes it's good because you can reinvent yourself. You can learn a new skill while you are job searching and then would be able to include it on your resume. Check out in your local community for volunteer work; something else to add to your resume. Another option is to contact the career services at your college and get them to assist you in writing a great resume. They also get job leads that you may not find anywhere else. Also, make sure that you are networking. Talk up your situation with your family and friends. Look for networking opportunities in your area. Many cities have networking after work get together social events where you can meet with others. Who knows - maybe somebody at that networking event is looking for a person with your exact qualifications. Also be checking for career fairs, too. Great place to get yourself seen; to see what local companies are hiring for and even to get an on-the-spot interview. We wish you all the best.

  • carmen b.
    carmen b.

    Right now I am between two resume when I left college Dec 23 2014 was not working for me. But since moved to Stone Mountain Georgia I had to up date my resume but right now I am unemployed since March 2014. So please what is going on with me. God know!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Jim thanks for your comment. Unfortunately there is no one right way. The answer is "it depends". If you see a job that captures your attention, take some time to research it. Try to find the company on LinkedIn or GlassDoor and see if you can determine any stats from the company - such as does it appear that the majority of the employees are in the millennial category? If so, then maybe that wouldn't be a good fit for you. Try to research companies and find one that has a good mix of the generations. That would be the best. Then, at the interview, sell, sell, sell. As for the resume, try to only include pertinent information that a hiring manager needs to see. If you worked in DQ when you were 17 and now you are going for a project management position, DQ probably is not pertinent. I know - ridiculous example but it should get the point across. We wish you all the best.

  • Jim A.
    Jim A.

    I've re-entered the job market for the first time in 17 years. I'm getting conflicting feedback about resumes. One hiring manager wants details...another does not. I've tried to reach a happy medium but there is no consistency out there. I've cleansed by resume of acronyms, fluff and anything else that the "experts" say I should. I'm an older, experienced professional that still has a lot to offer. How do I turn that into an advantage?

  • Anton A.
    Anton A.

    What the manager does or doesn’t want to see is beside the point. Before the manager sees your resume its been filtered by whatever process HR uses, be it some automated scanner or humans who are not subject matter experts in your field or that of the manager. Here's a vignette that illustrates is problem: http://www.solipsys.co.uk/new/AnneLearnsToRecruit.html

  • Donna L.
    Donna L.

    Good information, about cover letters.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Brian I would think that you would include a link to your LinkedIn account on your resume. You could include it at the top along with your email address.


    Social media, what about a link to your LinkedIn profile?

  • Everton Saunders
    Everton Saunders

    Bull I right know hiring manager are dept head looking to save on their budget

  • dawn s.
    dawn s.

    Great information. Thanks.

  • Robert T.
    Robert T.

    Good Info.

  • David C.
    David C.


  • Shirley R.
    Shirley R.

    Comments appreciated. Thanks.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Nancy thanks for our comment. Try doing a search for resume examples for realestate and marketing. You could get some great ideas from those such as created a new ad campaign which resulted in a 20% increase in hits to the website. Tons of resumes on the Internet for you to look at to get some great examples.



  • Prajesh Majumdar
    Prajesh Majumdar

    its true

  • Nancy W.
    Nancy W.

    Hi Nancy Anderson, what would you suggest I use as quantifiable achievements for the real estate sales & marketing industry? Mine isn't working... would appreciate any input.

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