Enterprise Software

Most unusual resume mistakes

A recent CareerBuilder survey reveals some of the more outrageous statements hiring managers have seen on resumes.

With 13.9 million Americans seeking work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, grabbing an employer's attention quickly and leaving a positive impression is critical. According to a recent CareerBuilder study, nearly half of human resource managers said they spend, on average, less than one minute reviewing an application. The survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive© from May 19 to June 8, 2011, included more than 2,600 employers nationwide.

When asked to recall the most memorable or unusual resumes, human resource managers and hiring managers shared the following:

1) Candidate said the more you paid him, the harder he worked.

2) Candidate was fired from different jobs, but included each one as a reference.

3) Candidate said he just wanted an opportunity to show off his new tie.

4) Candidate listed her dog as a reference.

5) Candidate listed the ability to do the moonwalk as a special skill.

6) Candidates - a husband and wife looking to job share - submitted a co-written poem.

7) Candidate included "versatile toes" as a selling point.

8) Candidate said that he would be a "good asset to the company," but failed to include the "et" in the word "asset."

9) Candidate's email address on the resume had "shakinmybootie" in it.

10) Candidate included that she survived a bite from a deadly aquatic animal.

11) Candidate used first name only.

12) Candidate asked, "Would you pass up an opportunity to hire someone like this? I think not."

13) Candidate insisted that the company pay him to interview with them because his time was valuable.

14) Candidate shipped a lemon with résumé, stating, "I am not a lemon."

15) Candidate included that he was arrested for assaulting his previous boss.

What are some of the weirdest things you've seen on resumes?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

169 comments
db625
db625

I worked at Lockheed and one day we received a resume that was pretty ordinary, except the woman at the end put "Runner Up, Miss California". She had 3 days of interviews. Literally every mgr. interviewed her. I'm sure she got a ton of offers, but think she went somewhere else.

sandra.w4
sandra.w4

The last question the panel asked me was, 'what is the one thing you could say to us that would make us give the job to you, over every other applicant?' I said, '...Please?' Still there 10 years later.

viggenboy
viggenboy

far better to say so up front and have the opportunity at the interview to explain what happened, rather than omitting a rather important matter of fact and getting fired later because of failure to disclose etc. In your world you're saying this guy should lie by omission and then face the conesequences of his lie later? Adding to his list another conundrum "should I now lie again about why I got fired or... shoudl I give Toni Bowers another hilarious item to add to her resume mistakes list .... tell people you were fired because you lied about assaulting your boss". NOT REALLY a good plan. ..... Toni, some times with these list you are a complete, unrealistic and illogical ass including things for pure shoch/humorous effect and not thinking through the realities of what you're saying

birumut
birumut

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Alessi101
Alessi101

The funniest one I ever heard of was someone who put in their list of previous experience "Responsible for ruining entire regional operation". Obviously they meant to say "running", not "ruining", but it still makes me laugh to think of it. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip :)

LSWVN
LSWVN

I had one applicant on his application question why did you leave last job, said "Steal there." Didn't know if he was caught stealing there or was still there.

Maverick17
Maverick17

During various interviews I have been part of (on the interviewer side) I've had a few whereby the candidates have put on their resume "extensive experience in" a certain technology. After the obvious question of "explain your extensive experience in xxx" I received the response "we had a contractor working with that and I was supposed to watch over his shoulder but didn't get the time." So your experience would actually be "little to none", then?

mpk13
mpk13

Figure out how to add the accent marks and use them. Resume (to begin or take up again after interruption) is different from r??sum?? (a brief account of one's professional or work experience and qualifications).

JJFitz
JJFitz

Someone once listed their body measurements on their resume. If someone feels so compelled to list their measurements, I feel compelled to file their resume in the round file cabinet I keep next to my desk.

JJFitz
JJFitz

got that one on a resume once. :)

skennedy10
skennedy10

I applied for a position a few years ago and was interviewed by a young HR woman. I was 100 lbs overweight and, although anyone with my kindergartener grandson's math skills could have figured out how old I was, I do look 15 years younger than I am. I have a master's degree in science and taught high school science for 28 years and taught the programming language of the job needs for which I was applying in a junior college for 5 years as well as developing applications under my own business license. I also have a pleasant personality! During the interview, one mistake I know I made was being surprised that they didn't allow open-toed shoes. (I have none, but that was not brought up!) Although I was called over the next two years by at least 15 different recruiters for positions at this company, I never got another interview. I was able to get someone to ask the young woman why I was not hired. It was because I was not a "good fit." Another error I made was to question their practice of requiring unpaid overtime, which sounded like possibly 5 - 10 hours per week. If she had thought about it, I was a teacher--I had done more overtime without extra pay than she could possibly imagine! That is just my nature, as any of my referrals (not including my dogs) would have been able to explain, as my work ethic is beyond reproach. Their loss! I do love retirement, though!

robertsk00
robertsk00

I have had some interesting email addresses: blowme@xxx.com figjam@xxx.com hairytoes@xxx.com weedmaster@xxx.com and have had some funny non-academic achievements: saved a dog from the street, but it died a few days later; knitted my grandmother a scarf to keep her neck warm; cooked a meal for my girlfriend to celebrate our one month anniversary;

kwabula
kwabula

We forget most Employers are the worst calprits. Look at this Job Description for a Job in England: Web Programmer needed. Must be experienced in Perl, php, ASP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Photoshop, Adobe Fireworks. You will be joining an innovative team of developers to develope web applications for our clients. You must be self motivated, acute attention to detail, and work on your own initiative or as directed. A masters degree in Computer science is prefered. In return we offer you an attractive package of between 16,000 and 20, 000 per year + performance bonus depending on experience! ... looks like asking for too much while offering very little!

ps2057
ps2057

A resume from a waiter listed Catering experience serving "Order Vous."

todd_dsm
todd_dsm

I stole a line from a friends resume that lists: *runs with scissors* under skills inventory. Interviewers have told me numerously, that's what got me the interviews. It actually materialized into a contract a few times, so I've kept it. As for the rest, it should demonstrate a certain air of desperation in the market. And, some people being flaky, they should be taken with delicacy, but still taken. I have to hire people to help me with Linux support. So, I go to a friend of mine, that's been in business since the early 70's, for some pointers; he says, "Well, like a lot of things, it's an old game and the rules don't change much." Your criteria should be competence. Who cares if they pick their nose in front of clients? Don't let them in front of clients then. Competence - nothing else will get the job done". And I have to say there are a great deal of extraneous rules surrounding the delicate nature of the HR rep's sensibilities. What may appeal to one may not appeal to others and is therefore very subjective. This leaves the applicant with a moving target and a poor weapon with which to hit it; enter desperation. HR people need to lighten up. I understand about the possible litigation that every hire represents but that theory goes out the window with Ted Bundy; he was a charming young man until he felt the need to kill. Hiring an outsourcing business to sift through the same resumes, that you could get yourself, has got to land on the 'Top 10 Stupidest Things to Materialize In Our Culture' list. If you are a supporter of this concept, you should look into a lobotomy - it's best for everyone. People sit at home, biting fingernails, fretting over their future, their children's future, their homes and mortgages, car payments, and the list goes endlessly on, until they spiral into a demoralized mess. Then they show up at an interview and we expect them to be well-adjusted, charming young professionals while a stranger sits in judgment over them. That is insensible. Imagine having casual conversation while people are shooting at you; your life is being threatened at every turn and you have to remain calm, with an air if dignity. The concept is absurd. So people develop idiosyncratic behavior? So what, get over it. So they attempt to make a joke, and unbeknownst to them, their sense of humor is almost non-extistant? So what, get over it. A friend told me once, the best manager she ever had (in software development) was a former synchronized swimmer. A creative choice that I'm not sure I would have made but, in retrospect, who would have a better understanding of teamwork? Brilliant. The point is, we have the body of talent that's currently available. We have to use them - period. No staffing firm is going to change that. Hire based on competence, and your company will be able to do what they need to: bill clients for services. Not all choices are easy - too bad, that's how it is. As an HR rep, you're on the line for bad hires? Good - everyone should have some skin in the game. It helps with confidence in your choices while executing on your responsibility. It should not hinder your decision making based on the fear of making a bad decision; this is counter to the point. Again, "Like a lot of things, it's an old game and the rules don't change much". Now that I'm thinking of it, the management of *human* resources has got to be thousands of years in the making. We need to go back to basics, if ONLY for the time being, so that an economic recovery is not OUR fault. People need work; work makes taxes; taxes and spending re-fuel an economy; simple. I would like to feel confident in laying the blame for this at the feet of the legislative and executive branches, which I helped to hire. But, as it stands now, we are as much to blame as they are for acting like children that just can't choose between two weird options. I'd like you to think of it in the Ayn Rand sense of the philosophy that we make decisions based on our own selfishness. If the unemployed grind the country to an economic halt, WE WILL GO DOWN WITH THEM. Like all dynamic players, we need to re-assess our purpose - and execute on it. Without purpose, what are we really doing? My purpose hasn't changed: bill clients for services. What is your purpose?

robo_dev
robo_dev

A interviewee was basically claiming to have invented the OSI model and even brought a diagram of the OSI model to the interview. So we started asking questions to test his understanding of simple networking concepts involving routing protocols versus application layer protocols. He basically blew up and said 'if I need to know that I'll look it up in a book!' and actually looked like he was going to storm out of the interview. But the boss liked him, and he got hired.

elangomatt
elangomatt

A few years ago I was on the hiring committee for an entry-level (part time) helpdesk person. One of the first few people we interviewed came in to the interview wearing khaki's and a nice polo shirt. Not dressy at all, but still adequate for the position I thought. My boss (also on the committee) asked him why he didn't dress up more and he gave a decent answer. The last candidate (and the one with by far the best resume) came in dressed in a t-shirt, cargo shorts, and flip-flops. We did the interview like normal and we were almost done and I looked at my boss since I knew he wanted to ask the why not dressed up question. The candidates response was "I have a bet with my girlfriend that I can get the job with just my skills, and that my clothes wouldn't matter." We thanked him for coming in and shook his hand and stuff and he turned to exit. Right before he left the room my boss said "Oh, and you can tell your girlfriend that she was right!"

Not~SpamR
Not~SpamR

For many years now I've listed "herpetology" under "interests" on my resume. Most interviewers have to ask what it is and almost without exception have been fascinated when I tell them it's about snakes and reptiles. As a way of standing out in their mind it's just another tick in another box, and if I can be the guy who knows the technology in detail, also knows the business in detail, and is memorable for some other reason, it can't be a bad thing.

ricrosen14
ricrosen14

an interviewee show up drunk from the Labor Board. They got a call. Also, had a very well qualified applicant that could not fit in the work space. Had to handle that one very delicately! ! !

aphorist
aphorist

In the days when it was permitted we had the question 'Marital Status' to which one person answered 'Happy'.

jonathan_armstrong
jonathan_armstrong

I went for an interview for a position that I was barely luke-warm about at Eli-Lilly, a very conservative American pharmaceutical company. The role was in Regulatory Affairs, which involves managing submissions to the FDA and various regulatory authorities. I was so bored with the questions like "where do you see yourself in five years time..." that when the guy asked me whether had ever done anything that I regretted, I answered "Well, in the casual job I had supporting myself through univesity, I used to rob the cash register every once in a while. But nothing apart from that." The guy looked at me like I was from another planet. Although I said "Just kidding!" the guy's facial expression didn't change at all. Fortunately I wasn't offered the job, so I was spared from having to turn it down.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Who not only punched out his previous boss but broke his jaw. I just said I hit back at the interview and he was one of the best workers that I've ever run across. Of course it was a standing joke before I meet this guy about the Jaw Breaking and how the person who did it stopped at such a low level of damage. ;) Col

kylesutton_bor
kylesutton_bor

The candidate was answering a question and, I guess, realized he was walking down "BS" lane. His retracting comment was "I'm not real clear on all of the details and I don't want to be talking out my hole." I had to mute the phone and my counterpart in the interview almost spewed his coffee on me.

jamie
jamie

Working harder => getting more is so 00's. The new reality is that the less you pay me the harder I will work.* * See abolishing the minimum wage.

Stajilov
Stajilov

5) Candidate listed the ability to do the moonwalk as a special skill. (facepalm). I'm working as software developer in a company and our ads say that we can hire developers from newbies to pro. A guy called us today and said that he is a newbie and can "install windows" (facepalm).

gbraden
gbraden

I remember one guy, indicated he would be a good hire because he could do an IPL (mainframe reboot) faster than the operators I already had. Then there was the Oracle DBA that showed up in cut-off shorts, tank top and sandals. Highly qualified but his resume still ended up in file 13.

jacob3273
jacob3273

I hired a lady for the office and she was working out OK, but stopped showing up around the start of the third week. Sometime later, I received a call from a company who said she had listed my company as a reference (duh!). All I gave them were her start and termination dates and answered "No" to whether she was eligible for rehire.

The Daleks
The Daleks

....because when I was a college sophomore, I used my cat as a bibliography reference! His name was Jasper A. Katz. There was no Internet back then, and I knew the professor wouldn't bother looking it up.

gwd3
gwd3

#13 could make a nice living just interviewing if he could actually convince companies he's worth their time to interview him. LOL! what a laugh! Hey, maybe I'm on to something...it's called training your HR in interviewing techniques. Hmmm....

ddbergen
ddbergen

The boss was registered as a sports agent. We received one glorious resume from a lady who had a dual track career, one in acting, and one in player management. She included a picture of herself in a bikini, and included her measurements.

kkoch3
kkoch3

I have actually seen someone list their blood type on a resume. Other unusual things: How about the full names of everyone in the immediate family (like I care)? One for the ages: a 32 page resume/career documentary. The worst part: I actually read it! I had to find out what the heck someone with 8 years of experience could fill 32 pages with!

mattsonk
mattsonk

Silly comments or comments that were probably meant to be changed upon review; in the field for personal summary, "I like people; they're delicious, I guess you would call me a people person." It did get my attention...

GovRon
GovRon

Or they were on a team and someone else did it. I always ask someone to get up to the white board and walk me through how something works. I was interviewing a woman who listed several disparate technologies in specific projects. So for each one, I ask, "You worked with such and such." "Yes." "Okay, get up to the white board and explain at a high level how it works." "Oh, that was someone else on the team." Five different items - FIVE! - on her resume, we went through this. You would think by the third one she would recognize the pattern. To top it off, when my boss came in to do the next interview, I was speaking to him briefly about a meeting I put on his calendar, and she interrupted to tell us that this was her time, and we should be focused on her. I told the recruiter we would pass. She called me a day or two later to ask why she hadn't gotten the job. She actually couldn't figure out why, and said she'd interviewed at many places over the past six months and was puzzled why she never got an offer.

JonathanPDX
JonathanPDX

It would be easier just to get rid of the diacritical marks and just spell it like it sounds. Now, time to resume the résumé critique. (By the way, I was able to add them here using é and é in place of the 'e' characters.)

kwabula
kwabula

In some cases some employers like people who don't question anything, who do as they are told without asking why or how! While other employers will refrain from tcandidates who display blind loyalty because it reflects a lack of initiative. So that HR may have just been intimidated by what she sensed in you.

stgcs(sw)
stgcs(sw)

How about ihate2work@xxx.com

stgcs(sw)
stgcs(sw)

I've seen a lot of this in SW Florida. Generally any form of long pants and a shirt with a collar is considered "dressed up" down here. Unfortunately many candidates for new jobs don't seem to see the need for going more formal (hard shoes, slacks, and at least a shirt and tie) for job interviews. We regularly see them come to interviews in shorts, tee-shirts, and tennis shoes or flip-flops. Yesterday I was in a store HR office waiting for a friend to get their lunch break. A woman came into the HR office with her intoxicated significant other and two out of control kids. She was there for an interview and if she was interviewing for a position of office hooker she was appropriately dressed.

rmerchberger
rmerchberger

... is surely possible, though. True story: One day, I had visited several local businesses who were hiring just to pick up applications, so I could fill them out & return later in more appropriate dress and try to schedule interviews. My clothing that day: Oil-stained t-shirt, worn blue jeans and a baseball cap that said: "Candy is dandy, but sex won't rot your teeth." I went to one establishment, and I informed the counter staff that I was there solely to pick up an application -- an neat, proper gentleman came from the back and asked me if I had a resume with me. I did, and I handed it to him. Then he asked me to join him in his office for an interview. As I didn't want to curtail my chances at employment, I did so, but I did apologize for my dress as I wasn't prepared for an interview. He asked me questions for about 20 minutes, informed me that I had the job if I wanted it, asked me when I could start, then handed me the application form and asked me to fill it out and bring it in on my first day of work. One of best jobs I ever had; and I (much later) learned a valuable lesson: Put prospective employees in an unknown (but non-threatening) situation and see how they react. That will tell you quite a bit about the individual... much more than a few pieces of paper will. Laterz, "Merch"

stgcs(sw)
stgcs(sw)

After retiring from the Navy it took a while for me to realize that listing "High Power Rifle and Handgun Competition" as a hobby is not necessarily a good thing to put on a resume.

q5tempno
q5tempno

If an applicant is that well qualified, the cost of losing that opportunity vs. the cost of some furniture modifications becomes pretty easy to determine. I would hope there were some other major reasons for not hiring the candidate.

Not~SpamR
Not~SpamR

I once interviewed at a place to fill a position vacated by a guy who was technically brilliant but suffered from chronic vertigo. Which was a shame, since the only way to get to the office involved crossing a walkway that spanned a six-storey drop. It was perfectly safe but this guy just struggled so much with it that he ended up leaving.

stgcs(sw)
stgcs(sw)

The second one probably was a past Microsoft support engineer. I visited the Charlotte, NC Microsoft site years ago for training on Windows ME. Many of the Microsoft employees in the class were dressed in short, flip-flops or ragged tennis shoes, and tee shirts. I asked if Microsoft allowed them to dress down when they were in class and I was told that MS didn't care how they dress if they weren't in the public eye as long as they did their job and put in the hours necessary.

bboyd
bboyd

If it was not an exaggeration maybe it showed very astute technical skill and good learning skill. I could add High Energy Physics as a hobby, I've done teaching, design and technical work for cosmic ray observatory project. It was designed to meet two goals: first, to study the patterns of arriving cosmic particles, and second, to interest high school students in careers in science (especially Physics). I'm not a physics major yet it could be listed as a valid hobby. On that front do you reject a person who says jet engine design for a hobby. Maybe they belong to a Jet-Cart racing organization. Truck turbos and LP gas = 40 horsepower on a Go-Cart.

stgcs(sw)
stgcs(sw)

We had a six week new hire Customer Support training program for a large international electronics company. Part of the training was time on the phones with customers under the direct supervision of qualified support agents. After six weeks of training one new hire was assigned to his support team and quit the next day. His reason for leaving? He didn't realize this job required him to do dedicated telephone technical support.

www.indigotea.com
www.indigotea.com

It's become far more prevalent to encounter interview processes that consist of multiple rounds, each lasting several hours (not counting travel time, which can add several hours in the case of large metro areas), and then zero response/follow-up by the interview initiator to anyone that's not the front-runner choice. Given the average hourly billable rate for most skilled IT professionals, the amount of time invested by the candidate in terms of lost productivity can easily reach a sizable sum. Charging an interview fee would certainly ensure more productive interviews, and less "interview for the sake of interviewing" time lost. I could definitely see charging a deposit for interview time, refundable in the case of hiring, or notification that another candidate has been chosen for the position.

robo_dev
robo_dev

in case the interview goes very very badly?? in case the owner of the company is a vampire with a taste for O negative?

eridonis
eridonis

I was going to reply that maybe they would have modified the workspace for a wheelchair, so....

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