When you’re reading through hundreds of resumes, certain missteps can mean the difference between making the shortlist or the rejection pile. Our Headhunters share some of their resume pet peeves that can land your application in the shredder.


1. Objective Statements

Firstly, let’s clarify we’re talking about those statements which sound something like this: “Obtain a marketing position at a large multi-national company with room for growth.” This stale statement is a very outdated practice that still manages to weasel its way into resumes. Firstly, if you forget to tailor them to each job it’s a big no-no. Secondly, it provides no real value to the employer as it’s all about what you want and not about what you can do for the employer. If you want to include an opening statement, try a Brand Statement or Value Proposition that summarizes what strengths you bring to the table, preferably with quantifiable results.

2. Skills-Based Resumes

This one is entirely personal choice but 90% of the time when a skills-based resume lands on a recruiter’s desk you can hear a faint sigh in the distance. While it may seem good in theory to group together examples of key skills, in reality it just makes it unclear where you developed those skills and for how long you were exercising them. Skills-based resumes are generally vague and can mask lack of or gaps in experience.

3. Lying About Qualifications

This isn’t so much a pet peeve as it is a GIANT NO! Lying of any kind will immediately land you in the rejection pile and it can be easy to catch resume lies. Misrepresentations about receiving designations like a CMA or implying you’ve completed a degree when you’re still in the process is a costly mistake. It’s more than ok to say you are still completing particular qualifications but don’t ever lie about already attaining them.

4. Not Using Bullet Points

Sometimes we receives hundreds of resumes just for one job, in one day. That’s why it benefits you and us if you make your resume as reader-friendly as possible. Big blocks of text just aren’t going to get read. Try to break up your resume as much as possible with bullet points for sections such as key achievements.

5. Lengthy Company Descriptions

It can be helpful to dedicate a short sentence to describing past employers but don’t go overboard. One short sentence to explain the size, type and industry is all that’s needed. Spend more of the time quantifying your key achievements at that company rather than giving a beautiful description.

6. Not Tailoring Your Resume to the Job AND Country

While we definitely think you should tailor each resume to each job, on a more basic level it’s important to remember to tailor it to the country that you’re in. This is especially important for foreign workers who come to Canada where resume standards may be different. Practices like including an image on your resume and listing age may still be acceptable in some countries but in Canada it’s neither necessary nor favourably looked upon. Tailoring to the job is applicable when writing your cover letter as well.

7. Listing Responsibilities instead of Accomplishments

Employers don’t want to just read a list of job duties, they want to see quantifiable demonstrations of your accomplishments. Saying you’re a “top performer with a proven track record” isn’t as convincing as saying “Increased ladies sportswear sales by 12% in the B.C. region within 3 months”. Similar to behavioural interviewing use the CAR method and think of Circumstances you’ve faced, Actions you took and Results achieved.

8. Including Unrelated “Achievements”

This one is less common, but we’ve seen some strange things listed under the “Achievements” section. While it’s fairly obvious winning that hotdog eating contest in college isn’t really resume-worthy, one less obvious one is including brief internal training days that aren’t real qualifications. It’s true that relevant official training, for example Cisco certifications, should be featured on your resume. But a two hour workshop on “Service with a Smile” in the retail industry isn’t really relevant to your application as an Intermediate Accountant.

9. Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

It’s an oldie but a goodie. Check your spelling, check your grammar and then check it again. We’ve seen lots of self-professed ‘detail-oriented’ individuals with glaring spelling mistakes. Have a friend read over it to ensure it makes sense to someone who may not be familiar with your experience, former companies and achievements.

While these Pet Peeves aren’t set in stone, use your best judgement to make sure your resume optimizes your strengths for each job application. Our recruitment consultants are happy to give you feedback and coach you on changes to your resume when you come in for an interview.