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What Recruiters Are Saying About Resumes

Recently ResumeDoctor undertook the immense project of interviewing several hundred recruiters/headhunters to find out what they are saying about resumes. These recruiters stemmed from varied specialties and industries throughout the US and Canada, (Engineering, Information Technology, Sales and Marketing, Executive, Biotech, Healthcare, Administrative, Finance, etc.). ResumeDoctor sought to find out what are the recruiter's likes and dislikes in a resume they receive and what is going to get a resume read by them. Some of the "Pet Peeves" shared will be obvious, while others might surprise a job seeker.

Over the next few weeks, we will continue to "countdown" the TOP 20 RECRUITER PET PEEVES ABOUT RESUMES. In the past few weeks we talked about the following:

# 20 - Burying or Not Including Important Information in the Resume
# 19 - Gaps in Employment
# 18 - Resumes Written in the 1st or 3rd Person
# 17 - No Easy to Follow Summary
# 16 - Pictures, Graphics or URL Links
# 15 - Resumes not sent as a WORD Attachment
# 14 - Poor Font Choice
# 13 - Objectives or Meaningless Introductions
# 12 - Lying or Misleading Information
# 11 - Employer or Industry Information Not Included
# 10 - Personal Info Not Relevant to the Job
# 9 - Candidates Who Apply to Positions They are Unqualified
# 8 - Long Paragraphs
# 7 - Long Resumes
# 6 - Functional Resumes


# 5 - Poor Formatting

"A resume is the first impression an employer (or recruiter) will receive about you and your qualifications. If the presentation is not cleaned up in a professional manner, (formatting), it is immediately thrown in file 13, (the trash can)," Mark King, MRI Atlanta.

It is paramount that your resume is clean, clear and not full of major formatting errors. Paul Philbin of Technisource in Phoenix, Arizona says, "Poor formatting is a huge frustration of mine. Making sure that the resume is in a clearly readable format can make a huge difference. My job is to provide hiring managers with resumes that don't waste their time. If the manager has to scale the resume to get to what he/she is looking for, then that manager will not be interested."

Clean formatting goes much beyond making a resume look pretty. Most candidates are unaware that many formatting features will not view well on a computer screen, and more importantly, will not download properly into many HRIS recruiting systems or job boards. Recruiters are reading your resume on the computer screen. BE WARNED! Just because a resume looks well when presented on the printed page, does not necessary mean it will read well on a computer screen. Keep in mind there are inherent problems when viewing a resume on the computer screen. The biggest problem being that only 1/3 of the page is displayed at any one given time. It is extra important that a recruiter have the ability to easily hold down the scroll bar and skim down your resume.

Formatting issues to be aware of:

In closing, Bob Lee of Management Recruiters in Jacksonville, FL shares, "Without a doubt, the largest problem we have is formatting of resumes. With the new recruiting software on the market, importing resumes is a snap, however, when a resume is over formatted with multiple type fonts, heavy graphic trickery, "ghost" backgrounds, etc., it raises hell with the input process. When we receive a good candidate with a poorly formatted resume, we immediately fire off an email requesting a simple WORD document in (.doc) or (.rtf) format. All others that come in who we are not interested in re-formating, get canned on the spot. We can't take the time to 'un-format'!"

Recruiter Tip: To see what your WORD document resume will look like as a text file, (as it will most likely appear on the major job boards), take your Word document resume and paste it into NOTEPAD. The major job boards generally do not retain font changes and complex MS WORD formatting functions. You can then make any minor formatting changes as necessary within NOTEPAD. Another idea before uploading your resume to a job board such as NET-TEMPS, is to "save-as file type" MS-DOS Text. This too will give you a general idea as to what your resume will look like when a recruiter views your resume on the job board in his/her search.

For more detailed actual recruiter quotes, visit provides an innovative resume consulting and analysis service for Job Seekers.

J. Michael Worthington, Jr.