8 examples of bad resumes
Here are eight examples of bad resumes our team has seen this year. Avoid these mistakes when working on your own resume, and your chances of getting a job immediately improve.
1. The bad speller
Bad spelling and grammar are one of the quickest ways to get your resume thrown away.
If you submit a resume like the one above, employers will assume that you don’t care enough about the job to proofread your work or even run it through a spell-checker.
If you can’t be bothered to spellcheck your own resume, who would trust you to handle the responsibilities of a full-time job?
To avoid this classic resume mistake, read through your resume once or twice, or even get another person to check it as well.
2. The amateur graphic designer
Unnecessary and distracting graphics like the ones in this example are an easy way to make your resume look unprofessional and (in some cases) bizarre.
Even if you think they look good, flashy graphics distract from your resume’s goal of clearly communicating your skills and accomplishments. This also includes putting a picture on your resume, which is considered unprofessional in the United States.
Additionally, graphics can become a serious problem when applying to companies that use software to automatically scan through job applications, otherwise known as an applicant tracking system (ATS).
If a company’s ATS software can’t process the graphics on your resume, then your application will likely be discarded before a hiring manager even sees it.
Ultimately, keep graphics to a minimum so that your resume is clean, professional, and easy to read. This is especially important if you work in a more formal industry, like law or accounting.
3. The non-achiever
At first glance, this resume looks strong (especially compared to the last example). However, notice that in this resume’s experience section the candidate only lists passive responsibilities rather than actual achievements. This is a clear example of how not to talk about your qualifications.
Describing your previous work in vague terms like “responsible for” or “tasked with” without providing detail about your actual accomplishments or actions doesn’t communicate much about your qualifications.
Instead, a good resume experience bullet point describes the specifics of your experience and uses a combination of hard numbers and action verbs to highlight what you actually accomplished in your previous position.
Here’s an example of how you shouldn’t and should describe the experience on your resume:
- Developed a new sales strategy, generating over $4,700 in revenue.
- Responsible for increasing sales.
4. The font abuser
This candidate’s professional experience seems impressive — at least it would if anyone could read it.
Unprofessional and hard to read fonts like the one used in this bad resume example are guaranteed to turn any hiring manager off. Additionally, stylized fonts are difficult for application software to process, making it even more likely that your resume will get rejected.
For your reference, here are some fonts that you should never use on a resume:
- Comic sans
The best fonts for your resume are easy to read and come standard on PCs and Macs. To make a better first impression, stick to any of these classic fonts:
- Times New Roman
- Arial Narrow
5. The gamer
While it’s okay to include hobbies on your resume if they’re relevant to the job and you lack professional experience, this bad resume takes it a step too far. Unless you’re applying for a job in e-sports, information about your gaming achievements is irrelevant to your professional qualifications and should be left off your resume.
When filling out your resume skills section or experience section, only include information that’s applicable to the job you’re applying for. Including anecdotes about your hobbies or personal interests is, at best a waste of space, and at worst, unprofessional.
6. The autobiographer
We’ll be blunt: this applicant’s resume is just too long.
Hiring managers don’t have much time to look at each resume. Making your resume two pages or more and listing every job you’ve ever held (like in this example) will overwhelm busy hiring managers.
The result? Your most important qualifications get overlooked. Not only that, but if you only have a couple of years of professional experience, making your resume too long comes across as over-confident.
So what’s the right resume length?
- If you have fewer than 10 years of relevant work experience, you should stick to a one page resume.
- If you have over 10 years of relevant experience, a two page resume (or even a three page resume) is acceptable.
7. The buzzwords-enthusiast
“Go-getter”, “hungry for success”, “self-starter” – this bad resume is a classic example of a candidate trying to use resume buzzwords to make their experience sound more impressive.
Hiring managers see buzzwords like these on resumes all the time, and they’re an immediate turnoff. While these phrases sound impressive, they actually communicate very little about the candidate’s experience and skills. Worse, many employers think they come off as pretentious.
Gurt here really tries to make his experience sound impressive by using fancy language – he even includes an inspirational quote – but no experienced hiring manager is going to be fooled.
8. The formatting disaster
This candidate’s experience looks pretty good. Unfortunately, the rest of their resume doesn’t.
Inconsistent spacing, misaligned icons, random font sizes – this candidate managed to mess up nearly every part of their resume formatting.
While the content of your resume is ultimately what employers are most interested in, a sloppily formatted resume like this can immediately ruin your chances of getting an interview.
That’s because employers see a poorly put-together resume like this as a reflection of the candidate’s attention to detail and competence. After all, if you can’t be bothered to make your job application look professional (or at least easy to read), then how can employers trust you to handle the daily responsibilities of a job?
The difference between a good vs bad resume
When you’re writing your resume, you want to do everything you can to come off as professional and well-organized. This means avoiding mistakes that can make you look the opposite.
So how do you know when you’ve hit the mark?
Ultimately, you know you’ve written a good resume if it helps land you a job. However, there are certain qualities that the best resumes share in common:
- Easy to read
- Applicant tracking system (ATS) friendly
- Focused on a job seeker’s relevant skills and experience
On the other hand, you know you have a bad resume when:
- Disorganized or difficult to read
- Spelling and grammar mistakes
- Distracting or inappropriate graphics
- Information that isn’t relevant to the job
- Fails to highlight your accomplishments
- Doesn’t get you the job