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Top 10 Resume Gaffes, Blunders & Snafus Linked In

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The Top 10 Resume Gaffes, Blunders & Snafus is a high overview of mistakes job candidates may make in developing their resumes and presenting themselves to potential employers.

The Top 10 Resume Gaffes, Blunders & Snafus is a high overview of mistakes job candidates may make in developing their resumes and presenting themselves to potential employers.


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  • The Top 10 Resume Gaffes, Blunders & Snafus is a high overview of mistakes job candidates may make in developing their resumes and presenting themselves to potential employers.
  • Information that should not be shared on a resume such as age, race, political affiliation, home ownership status, family, health status and religious affiliations. Federal laws are in place to protect job candidates and employees from being discriminated against in regards to these factors. In an effort to keep the selection process neutral and protect job candidates from possible discrimination it is strongly advised not to include this information on a resume (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2009).
  • A resume in not a formal or legal document rather an informal, marketing tool used for branding, capturing your significant accomplishments and leveraging a candidates position for an interview. That said, cite relevant work experience for the position you are applying (i.e., customization). Resume differentiation is about standing out among the competition while highlighting reasons you are the best candidate for the position.
  • Unless you are an actor, actress or model there is no valid reason to have a picture on a resume. Occupations where one’s appearance is directly related to the position is valid, however for other professionals this creates an opportunity for possible discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, which can be communicated through a picture (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2009). If a member of a potential employer held prejudices and based his or her decision not consider your resume because of one of these factor rather than a candidate’s knowledge, skill and abilities than that is an issue of discrimination. Not every employer utilizes discriminatory practices but yield on the side of caution and omit pictures. Other Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws to consider regarding discrimination are: Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older (EEOC, 2009). Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments (EEOC, 2009). Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government (EEOC, 2009). NOTE: Referring to the word “appearance” in this context is to take into account characteristics or unique points of person such as national origin, religion, sex, race, color and not how the person is dressed. Arriving to an interview in attire not suitable for your industry, stained clothing, etc. communicates a different perspective on appearance and is not covered by the fore mentioned federal laws.
  • There is a distinct line between embellishments and untruthfulness, be honest with dates of employment, salary and reasons for separation because they can be verified. Being viewed as untrustworthy or possessing a lack of integrity decreases your chances for an interview or employment opportunities. Additionally, it creates uncertainty in the mind of the recruiter or hiring manager (i.e., references, former employers and associations). EXCEPTION: When a candidate is switching careers and desires to “brand” him or herself in a new position or industry they may refer to themselves in a position they have not held before. This replaces the need to use an objective and one can incorporate his or her transferrable skills to be used in the new position and title.
  • Sharing your current or former company’s trade secrets, financial reports, client databases or other confidential information does not create a positive impression with potential employers. It demonstrates one’s lack of judgment, character, and integrity. If your current or former employer entrusted you with sensitive information, especially if a confidentiality agreement was signed, honor the agreement and choose another way to demonstrate your value to a potential employer. Not honoring confidentiality agreements may result in a current or former employer seeking legal action because of breach of contract. It would be wise to consult an attorney to discuss your legal responsibility if you decide to work for a competitor of your former employer.
  • Being asked to leave your job or being fired is an uncomfortable moment and may be a challenge to discuss. However it should not be addressed on a cover letter or resume. If asked in an interview, be honest, explain the circumstance, share what you have learned and how you have improved your performance. In this recent recession, there are several people that have been downsized and are now out of work. It is important to note the difference between being fired and being downsized. Being fired is normally a performance based decision in which an employee did not meet performance expectations or goals. Employees can influence their performance and prevent being fired with coaching, training and other professional development interventions. Downsized employees have very little influence on the organization’s industry performance or other external economic factors. In this case, a job candidate may state he or she was downsized in the interview and be prepared to discuss what professional development improvement have been made since the downsizing.
  • A candidate will not dupe a seasoned recruiter or hiring manager with overselling their work experience. Remember they are experts at identifying candidates and using “flowery” or unrealistic statements in a resume will place a candidate in the “DO NOT CALL” pile. Again, highlight work experience with result-focused statements. If a candidate lacks a certain skill address how the skill will be overcome with a current class, mentoring or training program in the cover letter or interview.
  • It is important to identify more than three references even though a candidate may only be requested to submit three. The rational is an employer may ask for more or your original three references may be unavailable, change their mind or cannot be reached once the reference checks begins. Having the additional references demonstrates to the employer you are prepared for unexpected changes and you have a group of colleagues that think highly of you as an professional.
  • Hiring managers and recruiters are extremely busy with multiple projects and deadlines. Most will not read a candidate’s resume initially but scan it for keywords, metrics and quantifying information (Bernstein, 2011). Which makes the case to use only relevant and concise information. Excessive content demonstrates a candidate’s inability to identify pertain information. The resume should be focused and communicate a clear message about what the job candidate has accomplished.
  • The reference page is provided as an opportunity for you, the job candidate, to learn more about your rights and prepare you as an informed consumer of research.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Top 10 Resume Gaffes, Blunders & Snafus Nikki Champagnie March 2011 Delivering Marketable Career Services in Higher Education
    • 2. Let’s NOT Get Personal
      • Age
      • Race
      • Political Affiliations
      • Home Ownership
      • Family Status
      • Health Status
      • Religious Affiliations
      • Possible Exception…
      • Working for an organization closely tied to a cause
      • Examples:
        • AARP
        • World Vision
        • Jack & Jill of America
    • 3. Time Travel
      • Citing every job since high school is not advised
      • Include relevant experience as it relates to the position
      • Go back 10 to 15 years, slightly more for C-level positions
      Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    • 4. Photos
      • Pictures of yourself or family should never be on your resume
      • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO laws
      • Use caution on LinkedIn
      • Possible Exception…
      • Your appearance is relevant to the job
      • Examples:
        • Actor, Actress
        • Model
    • 5. Salary Expectation
      • Early candidate elimination
      • Reveal it only when requested
      • State as a range
      • Best suited for cover letter or later stages of the selection process
      Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    • 6. A Little White Lie
      • Work time lines
      • Salary
      • Reason for separation
      • Reporting structure
      • Reputation
        • References
        • Untrustworthy
      • Possible Exception…
      • Career Changer
      • Branding Strategy
    • 7. Shhhh!
      • Trade secrets
      • Financial reports
      • Client lists
      • Lack of judgment
      • Legal action
      Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    • 8. The Pink Slip
      • Fired or asked to resign
        • Performance based and within your control
      • Downsized
        • Organization’s performance or external economic factors and not within your control
      • Reveal in the interview if asked
      • Be truthful; Explain what you have learned
      • Show yourself in the best light
    • 9. Overselling Yourself
      • Verbose statements overshadows your true work experience
      • Dilutes your career branding strategy
      • Capture key results and accomplishments
      • Lack of experience
        • Demonstrate how you plan to address it in the cover letter or interview
      Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    • 10. Dated Resume Elements
      • Objectives
        • Best for recent graduates and career changers
        • Branding Statements or Summary of Qualifications for experienced professionals
      • References Upon Request
        • It is understood references will be requested
        • Have 3 to 6 available and prepped
    • 11. Too Many Details
      • Dense content is overlooked
      • Irrelevant accomplishments, awards, certifications, professional associations
      • Too many forms of contact information
        • One or two phone numbers and emails
      • Simplicity with rich result-focused content
    • 12. References
      • Bernstein, B. (2011). Resumes & LinkedIn for Relaunchers [PowerPoint presentation].
      • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2009). Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination Questions And Answers. Retrieved from http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html