Resume Critiques by a Professional in Human Resources

Hiring Manager Pet Peeves

I recently attended the International PARW/CC (Professional Association of Resume Writer/Career Counselors) International Conference. They organized a panel of Hiring Managers to allow conference attendees to ask questions on what they wanted to see in an applicant. Almost equally important – what are hiring manager’s pet peeves? What can you do that will make a hiring manager cringe? Here were the responses that stood out to me.

1. You Forget to Ask for the Job

A hiring manager wants to know that you are interested in the position. As the interview concludes, make sure you let your interviewer know you are more enthusiastic about the job than ever! If you get up and silently walk out, the interviewer may wonder if you are still interested.

2. Offer Sob Stories or Too Much Personal Information

We all have had tough things happen in our life. Sometimes these events cause gaps in our employment. That’s okay! I encourage my clients to keep their explanations short and sweet. You can rehearse with your coach how to succinctly and efficiently get the hiring manager all the information they need without moving into potentially discriminating information and/or too much information.

3. Lack of Company Research

One hiring manager commented that it was glaringly obvious when an applicant had not even glanced at the company website. Get on the company website! Research current employees on LinkedIn or at networking events. Researching a company will allow you to ask more pointed questions, impress the hiring manager, and make sure the company is a good fit for you.

4. Lack of Intuition in Interview

It’s important to be able to read a room. Make sure you are looking at the interviewer and see how they are responding to your answers. Focus on the information that seems to make them light up. Also, pay attention to if they are trying to move the interview along and help them get where they need to go in the conversation.

5. Lengthy Resumes

Providing a 6-page single spaced document in paragraph format is going to make a hiring manager feel very overwhelmed. The panel recommended writing a resume that is no longer than 2 pages. I know this can be hard. One of the primary things that I do as a resume consultant is help my clients condense their resume down to a 1- or 2-page document. Remember that a resume is a preview of your experience. It does not have to be all inclusive. 

6. A Headshot on the Resume

Providing a headshot on your resume seems to be a current topic for debate in the resume writing industry. My opinion is “no.” As a Human Resource professional, I always cringed when I got a picture because it can highlight aspects of the applicant’s life that we don’t want to think about – age, race, gender, religion, etc. The hiring manager panel tended to agree that they don’t appreciate pictures.  So I will continue to advise my clients to keep pictures off their resume unless specifically requested for good reason.

7. Misspelled Words & Grammar

It is so important to edit, edit, and then edit some more. I always recommend having a friend (or a couple of friends) edit your resume to make sure you aren’t overlooking any grammatical errors.

8. Long-Winded Interview Answers

Interviewing can be a nerve-wracking process. It is not uncommon for an applicant to nervously ramble answers to the point where they forget where they are going. I know I can empathize with this mistake. I always advise my clients to practice answering questions out loud to ensure that they are succinct and to the point. If you find yourself rambling, end quickly with a summarizing statement. If you have rambled to the point where you forgot where you were going, try to redirect to one of your questions. It’s better to abruptly end your answer than to keep rambling.

9. LinkedIn Profile Not Updated

LinkedIn is a great social marketing platform for business professionals and job seekers. A recent study found that 87% of recruiters utilize LinkedIn as a primary sourcing tool. That means that a hiring manager may find your profile on LinkedIn and contact you. At the very least, they will probably try to find you on LinkedIn after they review your resume. LinkedIn is a place where you can provide more insightful information on what you can contribute to a company and should not be overlooked. If you need assistance in writing an effective LinkedIn profile. Please contact me and I would be happy to help!

10. Swearing in the Interview

Some people don’t like profanity and some people don’t mind it when it’s not used in a derogatory or insulting manner. However, when you swear, it can give a hiring manager the impression that you are less professional and don’t have the intelligence to illustrate your point using language that is more appropriate in the workplace. Additionally, some hiring managers are deeply offended or annoyed by the use of profanity in the interview process. Why risk it?

11. Lying on the Application

Lying or exaggerating on a resume is not okay. One of the hiring managers on the panel even disclosed that they pressed charges against a Florida applicant that lied about his education level. Lying is not worth it. It is important to focus and highlight the positive aspects of your work experience, but never lie.


Keep these tips in mind as you are creating your updated application materials. If you would like professional resume consultation, please contact me today!