6 resume blunders to avoid when applying to a tech job

by Lauryn Schroeder
December 10, 2014

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Writing the perfect resume? Just reading that sentence makes me anxious, because it’s a daunting task that plagues job hunters everywhere. There are so many factors to consider and questions to answer. To fill in some of those questions with answers, I spoke with recruiters and hiring managers at some of Chicago's biggest and most interesting tech companies. Here is what they said:

1.  One page or die.

Resumes that surpass the one-page limit almost always get the boot, said Eric Bobak, a hiring manager for EveryAuto.

“This is a major red flag,” Bobak said. “It shows they that they didn’t tailor their resume for the position, and just shot it out to a bunch of people hoping to get a bite.”

On average, recruiters spend under a minute reviewing an application, so applicants need to make that time count, said GrubHub’s Director of People Randi Jakubowitz. Employers shouldn’t ever have to hunt through multiple pages of irrelevant information, and it’s often more impressive when a resume doesn’t touch on everything you’ve ever done.

“When possible, keep it short, sweet and tailored to the job you are applying for,” Jakubowitz said. “Also, be sure to highlight relevant work experience.”

The perfect resume provides just enough information to decide if the candidate is right for the role and nothing else said Jakubowitz.  It’s then up to the recruiter to decide if it’s worthwhile to schedule an interview and learn more.

2. Tailor your resume for each job application.

Tailoring your resume for each individual job is crucial Bobak said, because recruiters can tell when you don’t. You plan to work hard and put effort into the job you’re applying for, your resume should reflect that.

Applicants for developing positions tend to list every program or software they’ve ever touched. This may seem like a good idea because it makes you look well rounded and experienced on paper, but Bobak said it’s actually a major turnoff for recruiters, because it’s a telltale sign that you didn’t put much thought into the application.

“It shows you’re not the master of one,” Bobak said. “Unless you’ve had 20 years of experience, [listing everything] makes me feel like you’ve never gone deep into one technology.”

3. Don't stretch the truth

It’s natural for you to want a resume that “wows” employers, but you also need to make sure you’re not stretching the truth in the process. For example, saying you have project management experience because you managed one project, one time, at one company. Dan Parsons, CEO of Ora Interactive and co-founder of Dryv said this is one of the most common red flags he sees, and while it’s often an unintentional, innocent mishap, it’s a huge “don’t” that can lead to very negative results.

“Just because you’ve managed people who were working on a project at your last job, doesn’t mean you’re an experienced project manager,” Parson said. “Recruiters will see right through that, either when they look at your resume or during an interview and you just end up wasting everyone’s time.”

Applicants should be honest about their work experience and mastered skills, said Parsons. Don’t say you have experience in something that carries a lot weight, when in reality you don’t. If your skills and experiences aren’t enough to get you the job, or at least an interview, then it’s not meant to be. Keep looking.

4. Boring resumes belong to boring people 

So you’ve managed to fit your education, work experience, skills, awards etc. all on to one page. Congratulations! You’re done, right? Wrong.

Is that all you are as a person? Do you really have nothing else in your life besides work? Let’s hope not because startups aren’t just looking for someone who’s qualified, they’re looking for someone who can fit into their work atmosphere, someone who they maybe want to hang out with outside of the office.

“We’re looking for people to fit in culturally,” said EveryAuto hiring manager Bobak. “If they applied with two years of work experience but didn’t have any outside interest, we probably wouldn’t bring them in for an interview.”

This is especially important in the startup world. Bobak said candidates who show they’re more than one layer stick out among the rest. Listing extracurricular activities or volunteer work is just as important as proving you’re qualified for the position.

5. Don't forget to back up your resume with proof. 

Think of your resume and cover letter as the beginning of the job application process. If employers follow your path, it should always lead them to something else that helps to prove your case.

Bobak said that resumes often say that an applicant achieved X and Y, or worked on A and B project, which is great information to include, but they should be prepared to back it up with proof on another platform.

If you mention specific projects you’ve worked on, include links to an online portfolio or website to back it up. Also, you should know in advance what’s expected in an application so you don’t get overlooked on a technicality.

“I asked our graphic designer and he said he won’t even continue the process if they don’t include links to their work in their application,” Bobak said.

6. No Misspellings

While a minor misspelling may seem like a miniscule error in the grand scheme of things, it could be the deciding factor in your application. Parsons, Bobak and Jakubowitz all agreed that having proper spelling and grammar is a must for resumes and cover letters.

“Your resume is a representation of you and it’s often all that we know about you,” Jakubowitz said. Recruiters don’t always forgive spelling and grammar errors.

Take time to update your resume and check that older jobs are mentioned in the past tense. Maybe even enlist a friend or family member to proofread your resume to make sure it’s perfect before sending it out to potential employers.

Interested in working for one of these rapidly growing tech companies? Check out who's hiring and apply TODAY!

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