What HR Won’t Tell You About Your Résumé

Use key words—and not colored paper—plus other résumé tips from potential employers.

1. “Once you’re unemployed more than six months, you’re considered pretty much unemployable. We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don’t want anything to do with you.” –Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know

2. “When it comes to getting a job, who you know really does matter. No matter how nice your résumé is or how great your experience may be, it’s all about connections.” –HR director at a health-care facility

3. “If you’re trying to get a job at a specific company, often the best thing to do is to avoid HR entirely. Find someone at the company you know, or go straight to the hiring manager.” –Shauna Moerke, an HR administrator in Alabama who blogs at hrminion.com

4. “People assume someone’s reading their cover letter. I haven’t read one in 11 years.” –HR director at a financial services firm

5. “We will judge you based on your e-mail address. Especially if it’s something inappropriate like kinkyboots101@hotmail.com or johnnylikestodrink@gmail.com.” –Rich DeMatteo, a recruiting consultant in Philadelphia

6. “If you’re in your 50s or 60s, don’t put the year you graduated on your résumé.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

7. “There’s a myth out there that a résumé has to be one page. So people send their résumé in a two-point font. Nobody is going to read that.” –HR director at a financial services firm

8. “I always read résumés from the bottom up. And I have no problem with a two-page résumé, but three pages is pushing it.” –Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

9. “Most of us use applicant-tracking systems that scan résumés for key words. The secret to getting your résumé through the system is to pull key words directly from the job description and put them on. The more matches you have, the more likely your résumé will get picked and actually seen by a real person.” –Chris Ferdinandi, HR professional in the Boston area

10. “Résumés don’t need color to stand out. When I see a little color, I smirk. And when I see a ton of color, I cringe. And walking in and dropping off your resume is no longer seen as a good thing. It’s actually a little creepy.” –Rich DeMatteo

See also: What HR People Won’t Tell You About the Job Interview, What HR People Won’t Tell You About Salaries and Raises

Plus:
Surprising Field Where Job Opportunities Abound

What Job Will You Be Most Successful At? Your Contribution Style Will Tell

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15 thoughts on “What HR Won’t Tell You About Your Résumé

  1. What’s clear from the comments in the article is that few employers make any real attempt to objectively determine the applicants’ potentials. Instead, they rely on prejudices. Two conclusions can be drawn: 1) most managers don’t know how to hire; 2) HR people are totally worthless, in fact, they are a negative.

  2. HR people playing Gods! Its disgusting how you treat people and how much you think of yourself! 

  3. Some of these are true, I think number 2 is complete BS. I’m a recruiter/hr manager for a midsized company, and people give me their unqualified friends and relatives resumes all the time, and I do not care if it’s your wife or your friend for over 10 years or your grandmother.
    Number 6 is discrimination. I’m a professional and I don’t do that. If I see a graduation date, or if I’m talking to a candidate and they spit out their age, or how many children they have, I tune it out and get to the point, are they qualified.

  4. other’s to add…

    Don’t send your email from your girlfriend or husband’s email. Email is free everywhere. Have your own account

    Please spell correctly on your resume’. Don’t trust spell check to clean up your work. Also, spell your name correctly throughout your resume’. One I got yesterday spelled Kyle three different ways. 

    Don’t apply to a job you are not qualified for.

    SMC

  5. About that color problem, well I cannot also put my black-and-white photo righ?
    And about 3, what can I do when I do not know any one in that company? Should I just call and ask for hiring manager??

  6. #1 and #2 make me furious! There ought to be a law against those practices! I’m just going to come right out and say it….There is a special place in HELL for people who think like that! I hope they burn.

  7. learn hydraulics, pneumatics, welding, electronics, lathe , mill, grinders. furnaces, automatic painting equipment, conveyor systems, all carpentry skills,hi=lo repair and maintenance,  1 ton door openers.perhaps you can use additional skills like asphalt liqification or moving flour through a miles long system.  many of these systems will work together and must be synchronized to work so.  even so expect to be treated as a monkey just there to please some arrogant foreman who goes to church with the owner.  any time i hear “This a family buisness we like to treat our employees like family.” i get up and walk out.  if i want my ideas to be ignored, my input marganilized etc.  yea i can just stay home.

  8. Why is it “creepy” to drop off a resume in person?  And number 6 is obviously discrimination; you’d think that employers would want a person with experience!

    1. More experience = more money and set ways in the minds of HR.  They can hire a newbie straight out of college with no experience, mold them how they like, and pay them dirt cheap.

  9. 1 & 6 = We discriminate against people that are over 50 and if you’ve been out of the workforce because you had a baby or had cancer treatment we automatically consider you unemployable.  So really how many applicants are you left with and do you really end up with the best and brightest when you use a laundry list of prejudices to exclude applicants.

  10. Number 9 is the best advise on here. It is very true your resume needs to match the Job Description. It is the only way to get passed the Gate Keeper at the company. The gatekeeper being the Website Software and the Recruiter.

  11. Some of these are absolutely on the money (pun intended). However, the entire hiring process is highly subjective…should always keep in mind the importance of relevant context, i.e., based upon type of role, level of education required, industry focus, etc.

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