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10 ridiculous things seen on resumes by HR managers

We are all human and mistakes happen, especially when we are trying to do something that can be stressful like searching for jobs and internships. We want to highlight our best side and show that we are the right people for the position, but mistakes can sneak into our resumes that make them stand out to employers for the wrong reasons.

I did some research and found some resume mistakes and humorous blunders that serve as teachable moments for all of us about how to stand out to an employer for the wrong reasons. Let’s take a look at a couple of resume and cover letter mistakes that demonstrate what we should not do:


Applicant wrote in cover letter, “Windows 7 was my idea.”

Yeah... Rule number one of applications: don’t lie, because people can tell!


Candidate: Freddie Flintstone

A candidate who is actually named Freddie Flin had his name autocorrected to Freddie Flintstone. That must have made the HR Manager chuckle! It is always a good idea to proofread your documents before sending them in, or even to hire a professional proofreader to be sure. Anybody can have a mistake sneak in, so it is always a good idea to double-check.


Skills: “I can type without looking at the keyboard.”

Even though this is a pretty good skill to have, it is probably not the most important one to include on your resume. Even if you do not have a lot of work experience, try to think of the key qualities you have that the employer is interested in. Listing too many won’t help you stand out.


Applicant listed as an achievement: “Nominated for prom queen.”

Think of what is important for the position you are applying to and then state the achievements that can strengthen your application and respond to the requirements of the job. It is hard to see how a prom queen nomination can be useful for showing you are the right candidate for a certain job, unless you are applying for a modeling competition!


“I am about to enroll in a Business and Finance degree program with the Open University. I feel that this qualification will prove detrimental for my future success.”

This one gave me a good laugh. I can see anybody making a mistake like this. Make sure you check what words mean before using them, especially if you are not a native speaker of the language you are writing your application in. Sometimes, you think you know what something means, but then it turns out to be something completely different. Resume and cover letters are about highlighting your strengths, so keep it simple and to the point. There’s no need to use complicated words, because they can prove detrimental for your application if you use them incorrectly. Definitely ask somebody to read through your resume, and the chances will be greater that you will both be able to pick out words and phrases that sound strange.


An applicant used a resume template that had cats in the corners.

Templates can really help you stand out and can make your life easier when writing a resume. They guide you through how to organize information so it is attractive and accessible to recruiters, and some of them have beautiful designs that can make you really stand out. However, if you are using a flashy design that distracts from the information on your CV, or you have a template design that is not appropriate for your profession or the company, it can have a completely opposite effect. In the above case, cats are very cute but they aren’t appropriate for a CV. You can read our blog post about how to use templates effectively!


9 page cover letter and 4 page resume from an applicant.

Of course you want to show off everything you know and that you are serious about your profession and getting the job, but writing too much can definitely hurt your chances. Too much information makes it hard for HR managers to see your key qualities! Your resume is supposed to get HR managers interested in you so they invite you to an interview, so your job is to adapt your CV for each position and company you apply to. You should accent only the qualities and experiences that match the requirements and company. Keep it short! Your cover letter should be 1 page maximum, and 2 pages max for your CV.


An applicant wrote that he was “terminated after saying, ‘It would be a blessing to be fired.'”

Employers are definitely not looking for somebody who talks badly about previous employers or jobs. Make sure you show off why you want this job and your passion for what you do, rather than why previous employment didn't work for you.


One applicant included clipart on their resume of two cartoons shaking hands.

It is good to avoid flashy pictures or clipart on resumes. They can distract from the important information in the document and they waste the small amount of space and time that you have to grab the attention of a recruiter.


The greeting on an applicant’s cover letter said, “Hey you.”

CV's and cover letters are formal documents, so avoid language that is informal and demonstrate respect for the reader. It might not bother some recruiters, while others will not respond too well to informal language. To avoid this problem, it is better to follow a certain form. Instead of “Hey you,” “Dear Mr./Mrs.” or “Dear X” are better choices.


Applications can be difficult, but the more you do them and the more you prepare for them, the easier they become. There are many resources at your disposal that will help you master application writing. When you are searching for your dream opportunity on, you can also find amazing application guides that will help your application stand out! Our blog can also teach you how to stand out with your CV or how to master your cover letter writing.

Good Luck with your applications!



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