Resume Miscues

A friend of mine has a small business and is looking for an administrative assistant to help in his financial services company. Because he’s short-staffed and doesn’t have the bandwidth to review applicants, I accepted the initial review process. My approach was to review resumes every 1 – 2 days and rank each candidate 1 – 10, 10 being most desirable. If a given candidate scored a ‘7’ or above, I would offer to schedule a phone interview. If a candidate scored a ‘5’ or ‘6’, I would review their resume one last time to see if indeed they should qualify for a phone interview. Those that didn’t qualify, I would send them a note thanking them for their interest in the position and including good wishes.


On to resume miscalculations. Regardless of the score, there were some interesting things I noticed on many of these resumes. Some good and some not so good and for those challenging resumes, they’d often lose points which could contribute to the discard list. Regardless, the focus of this article is on some of the foibles or interesting material included during my review process. For those who may think I’m being too critical, one must realize that the hiring process is costly to small and large businesses alike so certain criteria and scrutiny are needed to determine if a prospective candidate qualifies for additional review.

These Examples Display How To Effectively Create a Resume.

Resume Miscalculations

  • There were several resumes that included professional references on the resume which I think are unnecessary. The resume is basically to whet the appetite of the prospective employer and secure an interview and then sell yourself from there. Providing references typically come after or towards the end of the interview process.

  • One Objective Statement stated skills aligned to medicine and nursing for an admin position outside of financial services. Why even bother to apply if little effort is made to align objective statements and skills to open admin positions in a completely different industry?

  • One candidate listed 7 jobs from the last 7 years. Do they realize that the hiring process costs time and money so many employers are nervous about hiring someone who may not be totally committed to this new position?

  • One candidate included knowing Portuguese as a qualification for a financial services position? If they will be working in Brazil or Portugal in international finance, that may apply but not in this situation.

  • The ability to speak fluent English for a job advertised in the U.S. is a given. Not having the ability to speak English in an administrative position which includes interfacing with clients is a non-starter.

  • One applicant included the fact she was “Hooter’s Girl,” and in my mind isn’t the most effective way of attracting attention in a conservative industry. Would it be better framed to say a restaurant server and not include the company? If they are applying for a server position in a restaurant, that may be useful.

  • Not including an Objective Statement is just being lazy. If you are applying for 4 different positions, then customize the objective statement for each of these positions in a document and then copy and paste accordingly.

  • A cover letter is not necessary but may get a little more attention from some prospective employers.

  • Their last job was in 2016, I need to ask “why?” I’m intrigued by their background and may interview them but that time-lapse should be explained on the resume so the prospective employer better understands why they haven’t been employed since 2016 during very low unemployment. Once they failed to appear for the initial phone interview, that may help to explain why their last work experience occurred in 2016.

  • Someone applied for this job on Tuesday and they have some qualifying features and then you reach out to them a day later and they say they are no longer interested in the position. Were they ever interested? Are they just experimenting with applying for different positions to see what the overall response maybe?

  • If you highlight your cosmetology license and experience but don’t sell yourself on a resume for a financial services job, that’s a disqualifier.

  • The same thing applies to dental hygienists. If you’re applying to an administrative assistant position, it’s not effective to include dental-specific skills such as Dentix, Sterilization, Dental expert, etc.

No Objective Statement But You Can Still See How This Candidate May Qualify For A Customer Service Position.

  • Someone worked in the fast-food industry and stated, “Took customer’s orders and completed them with a smile.” That just sounds odd to me to include such a statement on a resume. Instead, one might say 'employed friendly customer service to restaurant guests or fast-food patrons.'

  • When listing the companies, I would not recommend cluttering the document by including the former company’s address and telephone number. Again, the resume is just to get companies interested in knowing more about you. Use that space to better sell you on why you’re the right person for the job.

  • Job is in Libertyville, IL. When someone misspells ‘Libertyville’ as ‘Liberty ville’ regarding one of their past jobs, which just may be a major disqualifier.

  • Inconsistent spacing with the use of bullet points and bullet points ending in periods and other points do not.

  • Within the Indeed application, there are certain coursework or materials you can review to ensure the prospective candidate that you’ve done a little more effort here. If someone has taken some courses (and scored at the Expert or Highly Proficient level), such as technology, attention to detail, typing, receptionist, customer-focused and orientation, that may help them from other candidates. And if they’ve taken the same courses several times over a 6 month period, that’s important to know too. If someone doesn’t include these, it creates a question in mind regarding their commitment to this position.

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