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All the Reasons I Didn't Hire You

Some of My Pet Peeves When Interviewing and Screening Candidates

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This is not a definitive list, and this is also just how I personally, as an HR professional, feel about things. Perhaps other recruiters feel completely differently, and following this will ruin your chances of ever getting a job, but somehow I doubt it. The thing is, when you stare at resumes for a living, and talk to probably 100 candidates a week, you start to notice patterns. Not so much in the way people behave, but in your own prejudices on how you will perceive those behaviors. Just in the same way that I, as a person who suffers from sound sensitivity, will be more likely to be annoyed by a person who pops their gum, other small mundane habits wouldn't bother me if they didn't pop their gum. Maybe I am alone in this, but memes I have seen have led me to believe differently. Either way, I thought I would share them with you all, just in case we ever cross paths professionally, and you decide you want to work for me. (It is a pretty great place to work, and I hear their HR Director is really smart!)

It's a resume, not an art project, and not a grocery list.

It seems like as our society becomes more and more polarized, so does everything else. Trickle down extremism, if you will. But resumes are the one where I notice it the most, as I have to look at a minimum of 250 a day trying to fill roles at my company. If you wrote your resume using Notepad, or it comes to me in literally any format other than PDF, I am probably already going to be annoyed by everything you say. A resume is like a handshake—it's a first impression, and it freaking matters. If your resume looks like it is something you dreamed up five seconds after you decided to get a job, we're not going to get along. If you don't have much or any work experience, that is totally ok, but write something more exciting than "good at troubleshooting" and if I see, "exceeds at Microsoft Office" on one more resume, I will scream. Everyone exceeds at Microsoft Office, it is literally the most basic of software. If you know how to do nifty things with Excel, power to you, but you don't need to put that you are a wizard at pivot tables to get a job. I assume if you don't know how to use Microsoft Office, you can watch some YouTube videos and familiarize yourself. 

Adversely on the other side, some of the resumes I see are so over the top, and extra that it is impossible to read them. I had a front end developer submit a resume that looked like a comic strip. It was very well drawn and super cool, eye-catching for sure, but it was impossible to read. They had eliminated so much space with the drawings that all their qualifications were crunched into thought bubbles and so tiny they were nigh illegible. Please be kind to your local small business's printer and make sure that you have a black and white version of your resume if you are one of those people who need to have graphics. I have also gotten very good at spotting boot campers (people who take a "boot camp" style course for generalized coding) because all of their resumes are built as part of their course work and they all look exactly the same. Like subdivisions built in the 60s, I can spot them from a mile away and don't need to go inside it to know what the layout looks like.

Splel ckech is nto otpianol.

Listen. If you don't have enough attention to detail to realize that you have misspelled the word "software" not once or twice but FIVE SEPARATE TIMES, on your resume, the chances are you do not have the required attention span to do the job I am trying to interview you for. Attention to detail is such a huge factor in any technical job. Specifically when you are working with huge amounts of customer data, that one mistake by you, caused by overlooking a small step, can irrevocably erase. Attention to detail is vital, and my assessment of you begins with your resume and ends with the in person interview. If you misspelled one word a few times, or a lot of words a lot of times, it doesn't matter—you wrote it, proofread it, and put it in an email to me. If in that process you didn't notice a glaring mistake, that does not give me a lot of confidence that you won't have a glaring mistake instead of a personality.

WHOA! We just met! Overshare much?!?!

There is some outdated information going around that you need to put your entire life in the header of your resume. PLEASE STOP DOING THIS! All that I need know about you is your first and last name, your telephone number, and maybe your email address. I do not need to know your physical address, your social security number (yes I have seen a resume with that information included), how much you weighed at birth, your mother's maiden name, and that your kindergarten teacher thought you were "a joy to have in class." Don't overshare your life with strangers in the form of things that could be used to harm you later. Let's play a scenario through that, in the interest of full disclosure, actually happened, though not in this order, and not to the same person. 

A girl submits her resume to a job that she has been after for quite some time. She includes her name, number, email, and home address in the header, as she has been taught. She goes in for an interview, and the boss makes a pass at her. She barely escapes sexual assault by her prospective employer. The next day, she opens her email to find 157 emails from the employer, with lewd pictures. She deletes the emails but they just keep coming. She creates a new email address, updates her resume, and notifies her family of the change. The next day her phone rings for 14 hours straight. It is the same employer. Explicit voicemails are left in between the calls, and she eventually has to power her phone down as the constant vibrations are a distraction to her in class. She goes to her phone provider and gets a new number and phone, again notifying all her friends and family, and updating her resume. Things are quiet for a week or so, and then she comes home from class, and doesn't notice right away that the window in her kitchen is broken. She only notices it as the hands of the employer closes around her neck. They have broken in, have ill intentions, and not to victim blame, but she gave them all the tools to do this. 

Give reliable means to contact you—nothing more. Anything more and you put yourself in danger.

Say again? Again? Again? Again?

Please do not write the same thing five times and expect me to be fooled that it is in fact that it is five different things. I know that there are 12 different ways to say that you have worked on a project. I at some point have had to job hunt without a whole lot on my resume as well. I get it! I totally do! But if you say things like, "I can type at 60wpm utilizing a qwerty tactile keyboard with a 10 key attachment," and then the next sentence is "I can type at 80 wpm utilizing a dome tactile ergonomic keyboard without a 10-key attachment," then all you have told me is that you probably have carpal tunnel. Please state the things you have done and the things you can do, but don't try to make typing or knowing how to operate a phone more exciting or count for more points than it does. We have all see this crap before, and literally none of us are fooled or amused.

What the font were you thinking??!?!

Here are some facts for you—there are exactly four acceptable fonts to write your resume in. Times New Roman, Helvetica, Arial, and Liberation Serif. I have received resumes in every illegible font imaginable. Lucinda is fine for writing emails, and definitely not ok for a resume—same with Papyrus, and pretty much every single font that isn't the four mentioned. I recently received a resume in the ever dreaded Comic Sans. In truth, I didn't even read it. Like I said, your resume is like a handshake, and any handshake that is covered in Comic Sans is not a handshake I want to return. Keep in mind that you are presenting your professional self. Your resume needs to be as professional as possible. Keep your personality to the phone screen, and the in person. The resume should be the facts, and presented as such. 

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