Five Goofs Guaranteed to Sink Your Resume

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

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Resumes can be fairly subjective in both content and structure. Should you include an objective? How far back in time should you go? Many things are simply fact-dependent and will vary from person to person and situation to situation; however, some things will most assuredly result in your resume being discarded by the HR screener and, hence, should be avoided. Here are five problems that will sink your resume:

1. Major Typos – If you have good skills yet miss a comma or space in the resume, it may not be deadly, but misspell section headers such as “Professional Experience” or “Affiliations” and you are in trouble. Remember, employers first review resumes in order to ELIMINATE them from consideration. With employers receiving hundreds of resumes for each job opening, the first task they face is to narrow the field. Major typos such as spelling goofs are a great reason to eliminate a resume from consideration.

2. Photo – The only time a photo should be used on a resume is if the job involves the physical appearance of the applicant such as model, actress, or media personality. Otherwise, keep it off the resume. What you look like is irrelevant to whether you can do the job and brings up possible risks of discrimination. This issue extends into the trend of video resumes. All sorts of problems revolve around video resumes and while a seemingly novel idea, they are not viewed positively by hiring managers.

3. Date of Birth – First of all, when you were born is totally unrelated to whether you can do the job so what is the point of including it? Further, if your resume includes this information, most employers will immediately eliminate your resume from consideration based on hiring legalities. They are not allowed to make hiring decisions with the knowledge of age so the only option is to exclude your resume completely.

4. Marital Status and Children – This type of information falls into the same category as date of birth. It has no impact on your ability to do the job. Employers don’t want to see it. And if you include it, your resume will probably be excluded from consideration.

5. Religion – Employers are precluded from considering religion as a factor in hiring just like age and marital status. Many people, however, have volunteer experience supporting their career goals that is connected to a religious organization. For example, someone may volunteer time to perform accounting for the local synagogue; his career goal is to find an accounting position, so the volunteer work is related. How can the volunteer work be included without mentioning religion? The sensible thing is simply to call the synagogue (or similar) a “non profit organization” and leave it at that. Focus on the work and not the organization so it does not become an issue.

With so many applicants vying for open positions, you simply cannot afford to have errors or mistakes on your resume. Before your resume can truly be considered, it must get past the elimination stage of screening. Don’t give the screener any reason to remove your resume from the “second look” category.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!


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