Most people know the basics of resume writing, right? Not so much. These employers couldn't believe how unprepared, unprofessional, and just straight up weird these resume were.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
A lady I know was looking for a job and asked me to see if my work had anything available. The hiring manager said I could send through their details to the lady and they would have a look.
The woman sent them a 13 page CV listing every class she took in high school and college (and she had changed majors, so that was 6 years worth of college classes). She listed every job she had ever done, and apparently had a thing for dropping jobs after a few weeks. The hiring manager asked me to pass on a message to the lady about how a CV should be no more than 2 pages and to maybe give her some pointers. I send the lady a text and she replied “Lol”.
“Not A Republican”
Not in HR, but when I ran a small office years ago, I received a resume from a young woman who bragged she was a member of Mensa, had been a research associate at a prestigious university, etc. She also mentioned three times she was “Not A Republican”. I thought, well, cool, but I don’t think that really has anything to do with the job. It took me about a day to figure out she was trying to say she was a “Notary Public”, which threw the whole Mensa thing into doubt.
Spell Check Exists
I once read one of someone who claimed to have a Sicology degree from the university I had attended. Since it was several states away, this stuck out. Since he didn’t know how to spell Psychology, I obviously knew he was lying but it was open panel interviews so I spoke with him face to face anyway. The look of shock and terror in his eyes when I said I was thrilled to see that we were alums from the same place and started discussing details of campus was kind of fun to witness.
Not With That Attitude
I’m not a recruiter, but by far the worst resume, cover letter, and CV I ever saw were when I decided to try to be charitable by helping my ex-husband’s wife get a job at the government agency I worked for at the time (this was years ago. I work somewhere else now.) The idea was that if she got a job there, his firm might transfer him to their local facility, and we’d live in the same city, which could have been good for the kids. So anyway…
The first thing to know is that her resume was 4 pages long, her CV 15, and her cover letter 3. She was 29 at the time, and had mostly been unemployed, so you can imagine what word salad this was. Here are a few highlights:
-“I may not have an engineering degree but I have what engineers don’t have, 10 years of experience.” (I’m an engineer. Who the heck hands something that says this to an engineer, and then expects that engineer to help them get a job? Like, is she aware that we’re allowed to be engineers for more than 10 years?)
-“I was terminated from my job at Oil Company due to the gross incompetence of the engineering management, and that is why I came back to the US.” (First, that is not what happened. Second, who says this?!)
-“I notice that this city has a lot of roads that are bad, and I think I can bring the out of the box ideas that engineers don’t have to make them better.” (Wait, what?)
It was all stuff like that. I had been pretty clear that I could get her some job like as a receptionist, or a file clerk, or something, but she seemed to have it in her head that I could get her a job as an engineer. She doesn’t even have a degree. My field is one that definitely requires degrees and professional licensure (which requires at least one degree), and that’s really not a secret, so I’m not sure why she thought she could just bypass that and come in to show engineers how to do our job. Like, she hates engineers, but also kind of wants to be us? It’s weird.
So of course, I read this and just knew there was no way I could be associated with it, so I just kind of stashed it in my desk and figured I’d make up some excuse if she asked about it, but that didn’t work. She called me 5x a day asking how impressed my boss was with her garbage pile, and I was just like, “Oh he’s really busy. I’m not sure he’s had time to look at it yet.” but she never got the hint.
One day, she told me she was applying for a job at the agency I worked for. The title of that job was “Urban Planner 4”. She was like, “You’ll be a reference for me on this, right?” I had to say something. I said, “I know two other people who applied for that job. They both have Master’s degrees in Urban Planning and over 10 years of experience. Do you also have a Master’s in Planning and 10+ years? Because if so, you might want to rework your resume.” Of course she got mad at me, and decided I had to be very wrong, so I told her we had a career fair coming up, and to go see for herself.
She asked me for advice on what to wear to the career fair, what to bring, etc. We were a very casual agency, like people wore t-shirts to work a lot. For career fair, most of us who were there for engagement were very “business casual”, which is what I told her to do. I happened to be one of them, so I got to see this happen. She walked in with her hair teased sky high (think of the 80’s. It looked like that, but it was 2015.), wearing a suit you’d expect to see on some older lady at the First Baptist Church, and 5″ heels that looked so cheap they might have actually been from the dollar store. I told my friend who was also staffing the engineering booth with me that if a very overdressed woman came asking about me, to say he heard I got called to the field, and then I hid over with the IT people until she left. She did talk to my boss, and he was like, “Oh heck no.”
This is why I don’t try to help people get jobs anymore unless I know them from grad school or something.
Watashi wa bakadesu
Had a buddy put that he could speak Japanese fluently on his resume and applied to a Japanese manufacturing company in the US. During the interview, the hiring manager asked him about it and he promptly responded “hai, nihongo ga wakarimashita”. So they went and got one of the Japanese QE’s and was like “Ok Mr. Honda, have a conversation with this guy”. Needles to say all my buddy could say was “hai” and it was very awkward for everyone involved. He is an idiot.
Why Would He Want To Work There?
Not an official manager, but I did take part in the hiring process at the store where I used to work as a senior associate, so I reviewed a lot of resumes. The biggest one was when the person was waaaaay over qualified.
I was at a failing, no name gun store run by a guy who thought that he was going to be the next gun superstore, next manufacturer of America’s service weapons, and next major private military company. That’s a story for another day. My manager (who was the only person who kept the company running) showed me a resume from a guy who claimed he was an armorer and gunsmith for 3rd Special Forces Group and Delta Force, had been a primary consultant for just about every major small arms and missile system used in the United States military, had been consultant to dozens of police departments on service weapons and tactics, among other things that SHOULD have made him want to only apply to US government positions and large firearms manufacturers.
So what was he doing applying to some no name gun store? My B.S. meter went up, and so did that of my manager. Our stupid boss, of course, ignored our warnings and hired the guy. Turns out, he completely lied. I spent most of my time fixing all the things he wrecked, apologizing to customers for him not doing his work, and having to sit through him making blatantly false claims about technical facts regarding firearms.
I was following up with references one time on 3 different employees (we are seasonal so we do a big hire all at once):
Employee 1: the first person I called was extremely confrontational and asked why I was calling her of all people. I explained she was listed as a reference and dead silence….then “i went to high school with her 30 years ago, barely knew her then and haven’t talked to her since”.
Employee #2: reference said to me “she listed me as her boss? I met her once in passing; we worked in the same building but different departments with completely different management. I’ve never worked with this person, nor could I tell you her job title.”
Employee 3: “ugh what did my daughter do this time?” When I asked if I was speaking with (insert name). So she listed her mom as a reference. I asked if her daughter had ever worked for her (as it was listed she was her last boss) and she laughed and said no.
All 3 of those were automatic “no’s”.
A Boxing Receptionist
Just last month I was hiring a receptionist team lead for a clinic and one of our candidates spent a good quarter of a page telling us about his boxing career, including statistics that meant absolutely nothing to me.
I had a resume once where a guy had obviously just copy and pasted job descriptions as his work history. It was blatantly obvious because everything was in third person, guy didn’t even take the time to edit it. “Candidate will be able to” type wording. I gave him an interview and asked him tough questions based off of his supposed work experience. I was morbidly curious if he was just bad at writing resumes or just a lazy liar. Turns out he was the latter. When I interview someone I usually try and ease up on questions when it’s obvious the candidate doesn’t have the required experience. I don’t want someone leaving totally demoralized etc. I didn’t let up on this guy though and when he couldn’t answer a question I would comment that he had it listed in his resume… Hopefully he learned a lesson.
There was a period where people would attach a photo of themselves on or with their resume. I had a young girl about 18/19 attach a photo to her resume. The issue was that the photo was of her in a bikini on her knees at the waters edge with her hands behind her head sticking her chest out. She was smoking hot but did not quite make the short list. She may have gotten the job if we had an eye for tail and not detail. She should have checked what she was sending.