Employers From Around The World Share The Worst Resumes They've Ever Seen

Employers From Around The World Share The Worst Resumes They've Ever Seen

There's nothing more nerve-wracking than dusting up your resume, writing a bunch of new cover letters, and hoping like heck that someone somewhere will give you a chance.

In case you're going through this experience yourself right now, here are a few crazy stories about resumes that stuck all the wrong notes. Some have happy endings, but most ended up in the recycling. If a bad resume doesn't get its writer a job, it can at least give the rest of us a laugh -- and a reminder to proofread everything.

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40. So you met Dwight Schrute?

We had a resume for an internship come through that was about 14 pages long and included the applicant's karate accomplishments from the 6th grade. He did not get the job.

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39. Detailtails matter

In a cover letter: “I have incredible attention to dealtail.”

Also: "I'd be happy to attend the interview on Wednesday the 3rd"

Wednesday was the 5th.

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38. Professional assassin

I had a funny typo on a resume I once reviewed. It read:

"Assassinated the lead florist on site"

Obviously it was meant to say "assisted". Or else...

RIP florist. But at least there's flowers for the funeral.

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37. I guess he set the bar

A guy put his bench, squat and deadlift numbers in his personal skills section for a bar job.

It spawned a long tradition of asking bartenders what they could bench when they applied for a job.

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36. Self-promotion for the win

Had a kid applying to work for me at a record store as a stock boy write on his resume that he had been a "gasoline transference engineer" for Exxon at his previous job. When I asked what that meant, he told me he had pumping gas at a station. I hired him on the spot.


35. Well, as long as you wash your hands before you do the paperwork

Hiring for retail. Two all time favorites:

"Experienced at stalking the cooler."

"Responsible for closing paperwork after each sh-t."

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34. I'm not sure what this guy was expecting

I was working for a small digital agency and we were looking for designers and illustrators - general multi-skilled creative types.

The boss wanders in with a sly grin and a big folder. It was from a guy who wanted a job. I came over and he started flicking through it. Page after page of... let's just say inappropriate cartoons. Lots of them furry type stuff. Breasts, butts, lips, figures intertwined, lots of detailed musculature.

So I was like, "Well it's quite good for what it is... but what else is there? Is there another section?"

Nope. Nothing else. Just a folder completely full of cartoon people in adult situations and inappropriately anthropomorphized animals.​

He was not hired. It wasn't because of the cartoons, it was because it was all just those cartoons. Would have liked to see some commercial applications of illustration, or something showing he could work to requirements, or a variety of work showing different styles.

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33. Get yourself a proper email

Bad email handles are a really easy way to rule yourself out of consideration. When you're interviewing for a professional position and your contact email is [email protected]... it's a terrible way to start the resume.

It's free to make as many emails as you want. Just spend the 3 minutes to make a second email that's firstname.lastname@ domain.com for your work purposes.

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32. Two huge red flags right up front

I had one application dropped off by the applicant’s mother. She told me “If you hire him, you probably shouldn’t trust him with money.” I threw the application away after she turned around. I was hiring for a sales clerk position at my family bakery.

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31. Bad resume choice; great employee

Once I received a resume that had "raid leader for World of Warcraft in top guild of a server."

The other hiring managers laughed their butts off and said this guy is a joke and they all dismissed him. Me, I asked the guy to come in for an interview and he did pretty well and I hired him.

The reason I brought the guy in for interview was because I was an avid WOW player at that time and I know the crap raid leaders go through. Trying to get a large number of people together, coordinate resources and rewards, getting guides together and telling people to up their healing and not stand in fire. All done virtually via vent and forum postings (meaning you never met these guild members in person). You need some great leadership skills and project management. Also at that time I was dealing with a lot of people offsite so I thought this guy would be a good fit.​

Nine years later (I've left the company), the WOW guy I hired turned out to be great, especially in the last 9 years when corporations decide that working from home is the way to go to cut costs. His skill set as a raid leader translated very well with remote project management and he is now the boss of the hiring managers that laughed at his resume.

This was at a Fortune 500 financial company.

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30. Poor word choice

I had a candidate who worked in couseling in the past, mostly with kids who had been through trauma. They had a line on their resume that said: "Expert in child kidnapping."

I had to at least give them an interview because I understood the intent but the wording was just hilariously unfortunate.

For those seeking clarity, he was an expert in kidnapping cases.

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29. Mr. Mittens would hire me

I received a resume from an applicant that included a letter of recommendation from his cat. The letter was hilarious and signed with a clipart paw print. I thought it was great and wanted to bring him in, but the manager for the position wasn't as crazy about it. I guess the point is, humor in an application can work for you, but it really depends on the person.

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28. I totally know what all those words mean

I work in an office full of highly skilled IT workers. We used to omit technical questions during the interviews, instead trying to get a feel for how a new employee might fit in.

One woman impressed our team during the interview with a resume containing experience in the following areas: Linux, Unix, AIX. Shell scripting, C++ programming etc.

Her second day, I asked her to decompress a few ZIP files, and recombine them into a single ZIP. She asked me what a ZIP file was. She didn't last long.

The sad thing about all this was that up front, someone doesn't necessary NEED to be an expert in everything. We have people who worked tech support for Dell. I used to be a network engineer with some supplemental programming experience. One of our team members used to be a Sergeant in the army, and his strong management skills offset a minor lack of tech talent up front. Different clients need different breeds of support to keep them on track. It takes about a year to bring ANY new hire completely up to speed. We can train intelligent people on how to do stuff.

This new hire was just...dumb. And a big liar.

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27. For future reference

Every person listed as a reference has a sentence or two next to their name about how we shouldn't call them because they 'parted on bad terms' or it had been a while.

Some applicants listed referees who, when called, barely remembered working with the person.

We had a guy that got fired for roughly a dozen harassment complaints who later messaged people threatening to sue them for getting him fired, then after that messaged those same people again asking them to be a reference.

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26. Confidence man

Had a resumé come in from a guy we had fired about 2 years previously. Had a gap in his employment record during which he had been employed with us, so it's not even like he didn’t realize what he was doing!

Imagine having the confidence to apply for a job you’ve been fired from. Man, that’s something.

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25. By those standards, I've been a painter since I was 3

Hiring for a staff writer position. One guy put down 15+ years of writing experience so we invite him in. He was much younger than we expected. Dude was counting all of his "writing" experience from kindergarten through high school. He responded to every question with a cringe-worthy laugh and requested to answer most questions via an email the next day. All we got was a generic follow up about how he's confident he would be a great asset to our team.

It sort of baffles me because while I can appreciate hobby writers (really, I do), I would never tell an engineer "oh I'm a programmer too" because I can write a bit of code. But when you say you're a writer, everyone's suddenly an expert.



24. Not even a good liar

A young applicant said he had a Master's Degree from Yale in music. I asked him how he liked performing in Woolsey Hall (Yale's main auditorium with large pipe organ).

His face flushed, as he replied that he "had never heard of it."

Maybe he thought it was a trick question, but I have no idea why he didn't just keep lying.

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23. Pardon my French

This was an interview for one of our offices about 4-5 hours away. We were having the interview by phone.

Her resume said she speaks French.

So do I.

The interview went well up until I transitioned into French. There was a very long, uncomfortable silence before we exchanged pleasantries and hung up.

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22. Stuck in the past tents

Apparently at Duke University, there is a thing called "tenting." 100% of my knowledge about this comes from a woman I interviewed who had it on her resume.

Because student admission to basketball games is based on a line, and not a ticket system, students have set up some elaborate systems of camping out for long ahead of time to get in. They organize their group around classes so that the tent is always occupied by some minimum number of people (you need a certain number present to hold a tent in line, I guess).

Apparently, she had been the organizer of one of the top of the line tents. She also felt it necessary to put this on her resume ahead of other important facts like, for example, the actual job she'd had for a year since she graduated.

This was an interview for an associate buyer. It was not tent related.

Additionally, she answered every "tell me about a time..." question with something having to do with the tent. "When did you face adversity you had to overcome?" "Once, when we were camping out for Georgia Tech, there was an ice storm..." "When did you have a disagreement with someone you had to work with that you were forced to overcome?" "Well, Jenny wanted to go to a sorority function and the group was split on whether to kick her out of our tent..."

Some days, I think she was trolling. And if she was, that's a pretty elaborate way to go. But holy hell.

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21. Motherboy

On a written application:

"Why do you want to work here?"

"My mom says I need a job."

"Do you have your own transportation?"

Different Handwriting - "I will drive him."

Most of the application was filled out in the mother's handwriting, she picked up and dropped off the application, and she called several times wondering why her daughter did not get an interview.

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20. The wall of shame

I've been hiring people since 1995, and I've kept a "Wall of Shame" list for all the things I've seen. A selection:

"Bachelorette degree in computers."

"Please let me know if I can omit you in any way."

"Ecellent typist, great sppeed and accuracy. 756 wpm."

"Married, eight children. Prefer frequent travel."

"It's best for employers that I not work with people."

"I am very detail-oreinted."

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19. My CV is really all about David

We were hiring for a position in IT recently. One applicant was this lady, around 60. Used to work in IT in the 90s, then quit to watch her daughters children. Most recent job was cashiering in a supermarket.

From her CV I learned: when she was 17 she went abroad for a couple of weeks on a student exchange program, where she met "David." They fell in love. Afterwards they kept in contact, until he eventually came to our country and they got married. They had an exciting life, being roadies for rock bands and such. Somewhere along the line they managed to finish college and had two daughters. David was the love of her life.

Then something happened (unfortunately she didn’t elaborate), and David isn’t in her life anymore. I never found out whether he died or they got divorced or something. She devoted all her energy to her daughters and their offspring, since that was all she had left of David. Now after the grandchildren are old enough, she wants to work in IT again.

David's name appeared in the application (CV+cover letter) a whopping 17 times. Sometimes I wonder what happened to him.

I honestly feel kind of bad for her, but like... I can't hire you because you loved and lost someone.



18. Comic Sans -- the final boss of the fonts

Font size 30pt, Comic Sans, and she spent the whole resume just describing her appearance. At the end, she threw in: "I am looking for a job." I guess in case we were confused, which we definitely were.

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17. Got your hands all over it

Not so much the content of the application, but what was on the application.

A dirty handprint.

It was for a food handling position and he was grungy enough to leave a print from where he held down the paper to write on it. Instant no. Looking back, yeah, there was a chance he'd have been fine, we could have taught proper hand washing and all that, but at the time we declined to grant an interview.

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16. It's bad enough when students plagiarize

I was on a hiring committee for a college instructor. The candidate was asked to provide a statement of commitment to the college and its mission. An entire paragraph was plagiarized - copied and pasted from a website. I noticed that the writer's voice drastically changed, so I pasted a sentence into Google and immediately found the source. He did not get an interview.


15. You can't lie about your work here when you used to work here

Had an employee take a year off to backpack through Asia "spreading the word of God". Upon his return he came in and dropped his resume for re-hire. On there he stated that he had made "multiple $10,000+ individual sales. The highest in company history". Yea, we've never in our 43 years had a single sale over $8k. It just astounds me that he would lie like that on his resume AND THEN HAND IT TO ME.

I mean, this dude never cracked the top 50% of highest sales numbers. I know this. YOU KNOW I KNOW THIS.

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14. Ctrl-F, baby

I wasn't the employer, but a secretary asked to print off all the cover letters and resumes that had come in. In one person's cover letter, I couldn't help but notice a sentence that had "(company name)" in one of the paragraphs, the person missed spot they were meant to fill in, in this obvious template of a cover letter. I found it funny that they listed "attention to detail" as one of their greatest strengths.

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13. In the navy

Guy claimed he was in a Navy program that has a minimum 6 year enlistment. Only completed 4.5 years. Claimed qualifications usually only completed by guys with 8 years or more service.

We followed up and did a phone interview just out of sheer curiosity. Told him that our regulator would require proof of military quals and schooling. He stated that his evaluations from his time Navy were left on the ship because the CO had not signed them and that they were supposed to mail them to him. He then told us they accidentally sent them to the Navy's record vault and that he had been informed that the vault had burnt down and that his records were lost forever.

Some of his answers were hilariously awesome. I don't think he actually realized that the two other people on the conference call had a combined 31 years of Navy service in the field he was claiming to be an expert in.

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12. Always think before you recommend someone

Unfortunately, the worst I've ever seen was submitted by my friend who I vouched for before he submitted his resume. Now, we were in all the same college classes, and mostly all the same project groups. So his resume should/could have contained all the same stuff my first resume did, plus what he did the 2 years out of college. I didn't have a whole lot of impressive stuff being just out of college when I applied, but it was well formatted and thought out.

He submitted a jumbled pile of crap. There was at least 4 different fonts, random missing bullets, no sort of organization, missing important dates and keywords. We did the hiring as a team, but my boss handed me his resume and asked, "Is this your friend? Is this what he's capable of?" To be honest, I was shocked, because my friend did well in school and was pretty intelligent. All I could say was, "He's better in person, and can figure stuff out even if he's never learned it before."

I got him the interview, but my boss wouldn't put him past the first interview. He said it was a horrible interview, and my friend showed no interest and couldn't elaborate on any of the bullet points on his resume whatsoever. It was absolutely shocking and embarrassing for me.

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11. "Welcome to Harvard"

I’m not sure if it’s the worst, but it was the most entertainingly bad. Ya know in Legally Blonde where Reese Witherspoon gives out her resume and it's on pink, scented paper?

I got one like that that about 3 years ago, which, looking it up on google just now to confirm, made this reference 15 years out of date (though if it was scented, I missed it). The resume started off, literally her first paragraph, talking about how Legally Blonde was her favorite movie. It was full of doodles in the margins and specifically requested I not contact her previous employers because she felt she was fired unfairly, and instead listed several sorority sisters as references.

She compared herself to Elle Woods several times, explicitly saying any hiring manager who wouldn’t hire her off of this resume was doing so because their couldn’t handle her individuality. I’m honestly not entirely sure if this was a legit resume or some kind of joke. It had almost nothing to do with the job listing. My manager joked that Buzzfeed was gonna write about me if I didn’t call.

The job went unfilled. We chose literally no one over this.

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10. The ballad of John George Max

I received a resume by email from a man named "John". The email address had the name "George" listed, which was confusing. Making everything even more baffling, the resume was for "Max". So three different names for one resume.

As if that wasn't bad enough, it was more of a story of his life in paragraph form than citing his skills.

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9. A little cheesy

It was mostly a bunch of bullet points about why he didn't like cheese.

His last job had been at a cheese factory. I suspect he was fired from there and didn't want to say, so he kind of overplayed the 'not liking cheese' angle as a reason for leaving.

It was still very weird to be on a CV though! Like... your distaste for cheese is not a skill or attribute.

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8. Check me out from every angle

My old boss kept a file of CVs he thought were terrible, and pulled them out here and there for a laugh. This is for an ESL school, so there were a few from non-native English speakers with really obvious spelling mistakes that should have been caught by any spell-check program.

And then there was the guy who attached like 10 passport photos of himself to the file. Like... why? One maybe, but 10? Why so many? You could just feel the ego dripping out of every sentence in the whole thing, too.

He was a native English speaker, and came across even writing professionally like he thought he was God’s gift to our school.

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7. Resumes should be ONE page

Not unusual or sadly unique, but when I was working at restaurant I was buddies with the manager, and we'd often have a scan through resumes that had been dropped in by young people looking for a job after they left school.

Most of these kids were like 18 at most, but had resumes that ran to three or four pages. Even someone in their 40s going for a high-flying management job at a world-leading financial company on a few million bucks a year should only have one or two pages maximum.

These kids had done nothing aside from high school and maybe a  bit of volunteering at most, and that's perfectly fine and reasonable when you're a kid and straight out of school.

What do they get taught in school? To fill out as much crap as possible to make it look good? Why aren't schools teaching them that writing about how they enjoy going to the movies or gardening with their dad (a genuine inclusion) is not going to get them a job?

It was serving work at a country diner. Putting nothing except "I have all my limbs and the normal number of chromosones" would have over-qualified them.

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6. "Coffee is an experience"

I helped my old boss scan through resume a while back.

A student applying for a job as a barista. Their opening line was: "I don't believe coffee is a drink, I believe it is an experience and you need me to be the face of that journey." He had a little waffle about how coffee changed his life and molded him as a person, how coffee has been his saviour in university.

This kid seemed to really be into coffee, it was well written but we were a coffee shop in a shopping centre, we didn't need his prose. He was an English student and the resume read as if it was a piece of course work.

The whole thing was in Comic Sans and the only experience he had down was "coffee drinker for 19 years."

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5. Cheaters never prosper

I work for one of the largest staffing firms in the United States, so I've seen probably well over one thousand CV's in my tenure here. I wouldn't say this was a "bad" CV, more that it was just the funniest one I've ever seen.

We receive a lot of applications through typical job boards such as Indeed or CareerBuilder, and when they apply we get sent an email that has their CV attached to it with the job they applied for. We received numerous applications from one person, and when we opened the CV attachment expecting to see their experience, it was actually a one page description of how this particular man cheated on his girlfriend multiple times and this was how she was getting back at him, by screwing him out of the positions he was trying to apply for by replacing his CV with this document.

Easily one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my 2 years at this company, we laughed about it for hours.

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4. Cooking the books

Three years ago I worked for a national chain restaurant as an assistant kitchen manager. I finally left for a company willing to pay me more and while I was at the new restaurant a real cocky culinary grad walks in to apply.

I start reading over his resume and he listed that he worked at the same location during the same time I was there, in the kitchen as a line cook, the same time I was there. I don't tell him this of course and begin asking him questions about the environment, the staff. Asked about the managers he worked with, what their names were etc. All 100% BS. He had never stepped into the restaurant before.

Once I was sure it was BS, I simply said, "Well I worked there from 2008 to 2012 under GM (insert name), and then GM (insert other name) and I don't remember you at all. Are you sure it was (insert location)?" And he kind of hesitated and said ,"Yeah man, I worked there".

I got up, thanked him for his time, and laughed on my way back to the office while throwing his resume/application into the trash.

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3. The word "consultant" can mean almost anything

Several years ago, I had the misfortune of interviewing a fellow for a role in a film shoot. Although the production technically had a Human Resources professional in charge of screening résumés, they were far better versed in the recruiting process than they were in what qualifications were necessary for the job. As a result, less than half an hour before I was supposed to meet with the man in question, I was handed a document that would have made most pathological liars blush.

According to the resumé, my interviewee had been an "uncredited consultant" on over a hundred feature films. While there certainly are cases in which a given worker goes uncredited -- it has even happened to me -- the sheer magnitude of the fellow's claims went well beyond the realm of believability. Furthermore, the guy had listed quite a few alleged skills that seemed to suggest a less-than-complete knowledge of the industry.

My favorite claim was that he had "expert-level apple box skills."

For the record, an "apple box" is literally a wooden box. That's it. There are a few different sizes, and they're used whenever something (like a plant, a small piece of furniture, or Tom Cruise) needs to be stacked on top of a box.

I went ahead with the interview anyway, if only because I was curious about how the guy would back up his various claims. He turned out to be maybe twenty years old, which was far too young to have worked on many of the films that he had listed. When pressed, he explained that he had "consulted" on each of them by writing letters to the people involved in the productions, in which he outlined several suggestions on various things.

Suffice it to say, he didn't get the job... though I'm certain that he listed himself as an "uncredited consultant" on it, simply because he attended the interview.

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2. A phoenix from the ashes

I was an AV Engineering Team Lead for a startup for a time. A couple of years ago, I was hiring to fill about 30 slots of a very basic AV tech position. I had about 20 applicants at the time, so if you were reasonably competent, you were in.

I got one resume and cover letter through our website from a guy who I will henceforth refer to as "the screwup". Every third word on this thing was spelled incorrectly, punctuation was optional, and spacing was randomized. Thinking "This can't be real" I called one of the guy's references.

Oh boy, did I ever get an earful from a grumpy business owner. The screwup in question was so much of a screwup that he was applying for positions in my area because he was effectively blacklisted from just about every job site and labor company in his hometown -- a medium sized US city with a very, very large audiovisual job market.

The reference told me that he'd told the screwup not to hand his name/number out as a reference because the screwup had caused more than $200,000 of damages to the reference's company's equipment the previous year. He went on to name, correctly and from memory, the other references that the screwup likely listed on his resume -- friendly competition of the reference -- and told me that they would all say the same thing. So I called around. The screwup is apparently quite the liability.

We did not end up hiring the screwup, but I made some new business friends in another city. We've since collaborated on a couple of larger conference gigs that hit their city first and then our city afterwards so... thanks, screwup.

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1. Hire me because I have Instagram

Sometimes I review applications and resumes for design positions. As they’re typically made by competent designers, they usually look a bit nicer than the average resume.

Reviewed one resume for a woman fresh out of college. The top quarter of the resume was a big, artsy signature in blue with her name on top of it. Her portfolio was an Instagram account (which I don’t really recommend unless your job is making art intended to be on Instagram).

The next quarter was her experience. Obviously if you’re fresh out of college you might not have “real” experience to put down, but some people are able to bridge that gap mentally and will write down freelancing, volunteering, part time work, etc. and talk about it in a professional way. This woman listed at least five jobs with descriptions that basically amounted to “I worked there.” Though, for one part time job, she claimed she learned how to run a business. This woman’s “volunteer experience” was picking up trash in a forest once seven years prior (likely when she was in high school).

The next half of the resume was a list of skills that made no sense because of how they were written and because there wasn’t anything to back them up. Things like “working independently and in a group,” “problem solver,” “marketing skills,” “detail oriented” (her resume was also full of typos). I’m all for soft skills, don’t get me wrong. But if you have half a page of skills and can’t get a job, maybe it’s an indicator that you don’t actually have those skills.

For the same position, we also got a lot of applications that made no sense. One applicant’s resume listed himself as single and included a headshot; he was located halfway across the country and worked in drilling oil.

My advice for folks, especially those starting out in the design field: * Make your resume look nice, but don’t go over the top. If you can’t make a resume look nice, you probably can’t make nice looking work here, either. * Put your portfolio on a dedicated website, and put in the work for it to look polished and professional. * You can list experience that isn’t relevant so long as it’s relatively recent and you talk about it well. Talk about the impact you and your work made. * Use your experience section to sneak in your skills. Your experience and skills should work together to confirm that you can deliver what you say you can deliver.

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