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14 Things HR Won’t Tell You About Your Résumé

Your résumé is your first impression. Make it a good one.

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We don’t like résumé gaps

“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. Learn the best way to explain a résumé gap.

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We won’t see it unless you network

“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. Try these 12 networking tips to get started.

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Hand your résumé to someone outside of HR

“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

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ResumeAndrey Popov/Shutterstock

Focus on your résumé more than the cover letter

“People assume someone’s reading their cover letter. I haven’t read one in 11 years.” –HR director at a financial services firm. Find out more about when to include a cover letter and why.

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Your email address could work against you

“We will judge you based on your email address. Especially if it’s something inappropriate like [email protected] or [email protected]” –Rich DeMatteo, a recruiting consultant in Philadelphia. Don’t miss these 9 other résumé mistakes that could cost you the job.

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CalendarAndrey Popov/Shutterstock

Dates might work against you

“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

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Give your experience the space it deserves …

“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

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man-working-on-laptopAna Blazic Pavlovic/Shutterstock

… but know when to cut

“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. Just don’t cut this one thing employers really look for on a résumé.

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Include keywords

“Most of us use applicant-tracking systems that scan résumés for keywords. The secret to getting your résumé through the system is to pull keywords 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

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ResumeAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

We prefer experience to pretty font

“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.” –Rich DeMatteo

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ResumeDragon Images/Shutterstock

We won’t overlook typos

“People who tweak their resumes the most carefully can be especially vulnerable to this kind of error, because they often result from going back again and again to fine tune their résumés just one last time. And in doing so, a subject and verb suddenly don’t match up, or a period is left in the wrong place, or a set of dates gets knocked out of alignment. … Typos are deadly because employers interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation, as a failure to care about quality.” –Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations for Google, writes on LinkedIn. Be extra careful with the word most commonly misspelled on résumés.

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Re-order your bullets for the job description

“You don’t want to bury an important element at the bottom of a two-page résumé. Make those things stand out by either placing them at the top, or bolding them. Especially the ones we label within the description as ‘not required but preferred’ because those elements are likely to put you ahead of the competition.” –hiring manager Sean McGinnis writes for

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EmailKaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

An email will do

“Walking in and dropping off your résumé is no longer seen as a good thing. It’s actually a little creepy.” –Rich DeMatteo. 

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Don’t bother with an objective statement

“If the objective lists the title for the job for which the person is applying, the recipient will think the applicant changes it for each job. In other words, it is meaningless. If it is different, the recipient might think the person does not really want the job. In other words, it is counterproductive.” –Bruce A. Hurwitz, PhD, executive recruiter and career counselor with Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd. Next, check out the 8 power words that will make your resume stand out.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.