6 Of The Scariest Resumes I've Ever Seen

6 Of The Scariest Resumes I've Ever Seen

When you embark on the job search, updating your resume is the natural first move. Resume writing is where you devote significant energy, in order to increase the likelihood that the recruiter will stand up and take notice. But it doesn't bode well if the recruiter flags your resume for all the wrong reasons. In the spirit of Halloween, let's highlight some of the scariest types of resumes out there:

Related: 10 Things To Remove From Your Resume

1. The template.

No, no, 1,000 times NO. I beg of you: please do not use a Microsoft Word resume template. I cannot express to you deeply enough how unimpressive that appears to the reader. Worse yet are candidates who insert terms like, “innovative," and “creative," into what is literally a resume-in-a-box. Instead, here's a wild idea: start from a blank piece of paper. You have the knowledge, experience, and English language skills to express yourself. If you feel a little stuck, look at resume samples for inspiration (not duplication). Balance style elements you've seen with what is uniquely yours, to deliver a presentation that genuinely reflects who you are.

2. The circus.

On the other end of the spectrum from the aforementioned template, lies the circus. This is the resume where, in an effort to be different, you've utilized four font types, three styles of bullets, and several colors from the rainbow. Circus-like visuals that assault the recruiter's vision will never dress up a weak professional history. Instead, select one font and then apply all caps, small caps, and italics. Choose one bullet style. Identify a two-color scheme, understanding that less is more. This approach will guide the recruiter to focus on the expertise and accomplishments you bring to the table.

3. The oldie.

Circa 1982, this is the resume that indicates, “responsible for," usually within the initial two lines, and then many times throughout. Here's why this is unnecessary: you worked a job, therefore, you were responsible for it. Further, this is not an action term that indicates how you applied your particular brand of expertise. This is a stop-the-recruiter-in-his-tracks-and-hit-the-delete-button term. Instead, skip “responsible for," and just write what you were responsible for. Begin to write like you would speak in a normal conversation with another person. By doing so, you'll make tremendous strides in getting your thoughts down on paper.

4. The dissertation.

Worse than the oldie, this resume dates back to 1974, because you insist you must have every single thing in there. News flash: you don't. Period. Bear in mind recruiters today are reading resumes on their phones. If they see a file size of 14 megabytes, I promise they are passing you over. Instead, present your most recent 10 years in detail, and the 10 years prior in somewhat less detail. Release your need to account for every single day of your professional life dating back to your academic years. Doing so keeps your resume crisp, clean, and centered on the most relevant information the recruiter needs.

5. The storybook.

Traditionally more entertaining than effective, the author of the storybook resume seeks to explain, and undoubtedly says too much every single time. This resume presents language regarding what you hope to gain from your next job, why you're seeking employment at this time, and the reasons for leaving every job, such as, “Pursued a new position." Such statements eat up prime resume white space while not shedding too much light. Instead, leave the explanations off. I don't even recommend saving them for the interview. Moving away from stories goes a long way towards emphasizing impact and results – those are the elements the recruiter needs to see.

6. The snoozer.

This is the resume that regurgitates your job description (word-for-word, in the cases of the most serious offenders). The painstaking detail used to describe the most mundane job functions doesn't win anybody over. Instead, use your resume to showcase not just the job (which anyone could have done), but your performance in the job (which only you did). With this strategy, you focus on the unique impact you've delivered for your past employers, and the distinctive value you bring to the table today. Behind every bad resume is (usually) a good-hearted candidate. Avoiding these scary resume traps means you're on a faster path to achieving job search success! This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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About the author

Jewel Bracy DeMaio finds out who you are, what you do, and the value you bring, and articulates that in a way that invites the employers and recruiters to call you. Ms. DeMaio is a triple-certified, nationally-recognized executive resume writer and job search coach. Learn more at or call 855-JOB-FOUND. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert.