Recruiters (both HR and agency recruiters) receive tens if not hundreds of resumes a day, each of which must be read, evaluated against current job requirements, processed, clarified and filed.

If you want them to help you find a job, help them do their jobs.

The Common Mistakes

Presented in order of chronology, not severity.

1. Not Following Submission Directions

  • Read the directions!
  • First Impressions Last
  • Email, Fax or Snail Mail?
  • Formatted or ASCII Resume?

2. Not Building Personal Relationships

  • Develop a personal relationship with your recruiter.
  • You want someone who will sing your praises to the next person in the hiring process.
  • …especially if you are not an exact match or have some other special situation.
  • Plus, when a cool job comes in, who do you think they will call first?

3. Bad Manners

  • It’s poor form to mail your resume to 45 recruiters in one email…
  • …especially when you display them all in the To: field!
  • Keep a log of where your resume has been sent.
  • Don’t insult the recruiter. (I’m not kidding – it happens!)

4. Applying When You Are not Even Remotely Qualified

  • Don’t apply without considering the requirements.
  • Do apply for jobs that are a bit of a stretch, but at least be in the ballpark!
  • Don’t do “shotgun” applications.
  • Pay attention to the “must have” vs. “nice to have” requirements.

5. Not Summarizing Skills vs. Requirements

  • If you are qualified, the recruiter will write a summary of how your skills match the job requirements before passing it on.
  • Be pro-active: send a matrix of the job requirements vs. your skills so they don’t have to do it for you.
  • If you don’t have one of the needed skills, this is where you say, “I don’t have XYZ, but I do have ABC, which is very similar.”
  • Suddenly, you are the recruiter’s best friend:
    • They didn’t have to search for the information.
    • You typed the summary for them.
    • You pointed out important information they may have missed.
    • All they had to do is verify the information and pass it on.

6. Misnaming Your Resume

  • Remember, recruiters get tens if not hundreds of electronic resumes a day.
  • Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes.
  • Would you want to receive 100 resumes a day named “resume.doc”?
  • Name your resume so it can be found easily: for example, “Joe Jones.doc”

7. Poorly Writing or Formatting Your Resume

  • Your resume is the first sample of your work.
  • Managers judge candidates based on their resumes…
  • …and will disqualify you if you don’t apply the same standards to your resume that you do your work (attention to detail, “debugging” your resume for typos and inconsistencies, etc.)
  • Pay attention to:
    • Formatting Consistency
    • Readability
    • Misspellings

8. Mis-evaluation of Importances

  • Highlight your strengths.
  • Minimize your weaknesses.
  • For example, put the most applicable information, experience or skills near the top of your resume.
  • Put less- or non-applicable experience near the bottom.

9. Not Anticipating and Answering Questions

  • Recruiters wonder about oddities in resumes, so be pro-active and explain them.
  • Examples:
    • Gaps in your work history
    • Your citizenship or work visa status
    • Moving from contract to perm
    • Moving from perm to contract (to a lesser degree)
    • Need relocation assistance if out-of-state?

10. Not Keeping Your Skills Current

  • Not knowing the latest programming languages/authoring tools/etc.
  • If you can really just pick them up in a week, how come you haven’t already done so?
  • Between user groups, professional associations, conferences, etc., there is no reason not to stay current.


  • Follow submission directions.
  • Build personal relationships.
  • Use good manners and “Netiquette”
  • Apply for jobs for which you are qualified.
  • Include a summary of how your skills match the job requirements when submitting your resume.
  • Name your electronic resume so it can be identified.
  • Make sure your resume is easy to read, free of typos, etc.
  • Highlight your strengths, minimize your weaknesses.
  • Anticipate and answer questions.
  • Keep your skills current.

I’m always happy to hear from my readers, so if you have any questions about how to find a good writer or want to report your successes in doing so, send me an email or call me at the number below!

About the Writer

Jack Molisani has been a project officer in the Space Division of the USAF, the manager of training and documentation of a multi-million dollar software firm, and currently is the president of ProSpring Inc., a technical communication and placement firm, and LavaCon: The International Conference on Technical Communication Management.

He can be reached by phone at 888-378-2333 and by email at [email protected].

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.