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Originally published Sunday, November 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Job Market

Recruiters cite litany of mistakes they've seen on résumés

A résumé is not an ad for the personals section of the newspaper. But the guy who sent this résumé to job recruiter...

New York Daily News

NEW YORK — A résumé is not an ad for the personals section of the newspaper.

But the guy who sent this résumé to job recruiter Jon Reed didn't seem to know the difference:

"Makes a strong and commanding presence — tall (6-feet-4, 235 pounds), athletic, sophisticated and mature," he wrote.

"Engaging personality with quick wit, warm smile, happy demeanor, high energy level and enthusiasm. Effervescent and fun to be around."

Reed and his colleague Rachel Meyers have seen mountains of bad résumés in their work as recruiters — so bad they're funny, except to the sorry souls who are trying to use them to get jobs.

Over the years, Reed and Meyers kept the worst ones in their "joke file" — which they broke open to write a new humor book called "Résumé from Hell."

It's filled with excerpts from real résumés, with the names changed to keep the job applicants from dying of embarrassment.

Beyond all the funny stuff, there are serious lessons to be learned — as the authors explained in an interview.

They offered their list of the biggest mistakes people make with their résumés. Avoid them at all costs.

• Using distracting fonts, formats or graphics. Even if you're applying for an arts or graphics job, it's a mistake to do an elaborate design. When you e-mail it to hiring managers, there's no telling what it will look like on their computers, Meyers said.

Taking an overly informal, conversational tone. This is wrong whether it's in the résumé itself or your cover letter, your e-mail correspondence with your potential employer — or the e-mail address you use.

• Using an unprofessional e-mail address. E-mail addresses are free. Get a new one for your job search that gives you a professional identity, Reed said. You can do better than the job applicants who sent him résumés from and


• Including your salary requirements. It's too soon to bring up the subject of money when you haven't even landed a job interview.

"You need to obtain as many job offers as possible — then attack the issue of money from a position of strength," Reed said.

Dissing your past and present employers. "This makes you look bad," Meyers said. "It signals you aren't part of the team, you don't get along."

Submitting a résumé that's more than three pages long. Reed said he frequently gets résumés of seven to 15 pages. One 18-page résumé came with a table of contents.

Including hobbies and interests. "There are rules to the job-application game," Reed said. "On paper, you should present yourself as someone who's all about work."

For instance, you may think snowboarding makes you seem adventurous and well-rounded. The potential employer who sees this on your résumé pictures you in the hospital, in traction, unable to work. Not good.

Listing reasons for leaving your current and past jobs. That's a topic to tackle in job interviews — if you're asked — with an answer that doesn't bad-mouth anybody and puts you in a positive light.

Dropping names of celebrities, politicians and business moguls. "It never comes off right — and people do it all the time," Reed said.

Failing to catch typos. It calls into question your attention to detail.

Lying. "It's playing with fire," Meyers said.

Failing to attach a cover letter. "It looks lazy," Reed said.

Failing to customize your résumé to the job you're applying for. "With résumés, one size does not fit all," Reed explained.

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