15 Signs Your Resume is a Hot Mess

"But really, how bad is my resume?"

Clients ask me this ALL the time. When I meet with a new client, I start with an in-depth review of their resume. Inevitably, smart and talented women want to know how their resume ranks among others I've seen.

I would NEVER, come right out and say that someone's resume is a mess. Most clients spend hours on their resume before coming to the conclusion that they need professional help.

While I'm not mean, I am 100% honest about how their resume is letting them down in their job search (and how we're going to fix it).

If you're wondering about the state of your resume, I've got 15 signs that your resume is a hot mess.

Let’s count ‘em down.

Your resume is a HOT MESS, if:

15. You Have Less-than-Classy Contact Info

I’m not talking about just your email address – although, just in case you need the reminder, you can’t put vodkalover@email.com on your resume. Join the rest of us here in 2017, go to Gmail, and set-up a professional email address for your job search.

If you’re including social media links (which may make sense for positions in digital technology or marketing), make sure they are equally professional.

Lastly, your LinkedIn URL should be included on your resume and you should personalize it. Get rid of all those weird numbers and letters after your name, like: linkedin.com/in/elaine-benes-25m6-h89zz.

You can change the URL in your Public Settings. I include full instructions for this process in my free LinkedIn guide: “ 7 LinkedIn Secrets to Attract Recruiters and Get Hired Fast!"

14. You Didn’t Use a Resume Headline

A recruiter should be able to know immediately - with a mere glance - who you are and why you're applying for the position.

Having a Headline, is a great way to do this. It can be as simple as using your job title (if you're making a lateral move) or an adaptation of your title if you're looking to level-up.


Senior-Level Operations Manager

Vice President, Sales - Telecommunications

Customer Service Leader - Banking & Financial Services.

13. You Begin Your Resume with an Objective Statement

While I'm all for being über clear when communicating your fit for a role, an objective statement is not how to do it. Mostly because of the perspective.

Objective statements are too much "here's what I get out of this deal" and not enough, "here's what you'll get if you hire me."

Replace your objective with a summary. Grab a fill-in-the-blank version here.

12. You Did Not Tailor for a Specific Job

The requirements and unique skills of the specific job you desire should guide everything you write in your resume.

Your resume can't be all things to everyone - if you try this approach, you resume will appear valuable to no one.

Specifically, make sure your headline, summary, and key skills (the top 20% of your resume) directly address the needs of the employer.

11. You Left Out a “Skills” or “Areas of Expertise” Section

Make the recruiter's or hiring manager's job easier! Give them a check-list of the skills you possess that are relevant to the job.

Make this a quick, skimmable section. You want it to be easy for the hiring manager to see you have the necessary qualifications.

10. You Outlined Your Career Experience Like a List of Job Descriptions

Career history that reads like the official job description sitting in your HR file, is incredibly boring and delivers zero insight into who you are at work and what you have to offer.

This approach will have eyes glazing over.

You've gotta bring the accomplishments and wins in this section.

Back-up your accomplishments with numbers ($,#,%) and the person reading your resume will perk right up!

9. You Used the Phrase “responsible for” Even Once

This useless, passive phrase is a resume killer. You can almost always delete it by just starting the sentence with the verb that follows "responsible for".

Responsible for overseeing project performance - Oversee project performance.

Responsible for motivating teams to achieve sales goals - Motivate teams to achieve sale goals.

Responsible for directing day-to-day operations - Direct day-to-day operations.

Get the idea?

Did you write this phrase without a verb? Then you should add one. Active verbs give a stronger impression.

8. You Included Positions from the 1990s or Older…

That job you had when Clinton was President? Let it go.

What? You accomplished major things back then? There are other ways to include this info without ageing yourself (talk with a resume writer).

7. You Bulleted Every Single Item

Of course there is a place for bullets on your resume. They can be especially effective for calling attention to highlights and accomplishments, and for key skills lists.

But, if every freaking line on your resume is a bulleted item, nothing stands out as important. It becomes just one big, bulleted, blur (and a little annoying to read).

Don't swing too far the other way either. No one wants to read globs of paragraphs.

6. You Used Multiple Fonts & a Rainbow of Colours

Keep it simple, clean, and professional. Stick to 1 font (a sans serif like calibri is ideal).

Using colour is fine to help break up resume sections, but don't get crazy. It's your resume, not an art project.

5. You Included interests and hobbies

These are seen as filler - unless you have relevant volunteering experience.

4. You Stated "References Available on Request"

Just delete it.

References are expected to be available. You are expected to provide them when you're asked.

You don't need to waste resume space stating that you will comply with a common hiring practice.

3. You Failed to Proofread

Read your resume forward and backward (seriously, reading it from the bottom-up is highly effective!). Read it out loud. Put it away and read it again the next day. Have a friend or professional read it over. Use Grammarly.

Make sure your resume is pristine before it lands in front of a hiring manager or recruiter.

2. You Lied

Your resume may survive with lies about your experience, timeline, education, or skill proficiency. You may even survive the interview if you have to speak about dishonest points on your resume.

But lies always surface, whether it's from a background check, reference check, or your first few months on the job.

If your lies are discovered, bye, bye job and hello hot mess life.

1. You Aren’t Getting Interviews

The #1 sign that your resume is a Hot Mess? You’re not getting interviews.

This is the ultimate purpose of a resume. If you’re applying for hundreds of jobs and not receiving interview requests, there is a SERIOUS problem with your resume.

Also, if you’re literally applying for hundreds of jobs, your job search is likely broken too.

Did any of these apply to you? If your job search has not been going quite as well as you hoped - and you just learned a few mistakes you've been making - this is great news! You can fix your weak spots and move on stronger.

Want to know how to get headhunted? Download the free guide here: tammybanfield.com/freelinkedinguide


Tammy Banfield is a professional resume writer and certified career coach who specializes in helping talented and ambitious women advance their careers and find rewarding, fulfilling jobs.

Tammy has helped over 600 career seekers from around the world secure coveted positions. Connect with Tammy on LinkedIn or at her Website. Want to know how to get headhunted? Download the free guide here: tammybanfield.com/freelinkedinguide

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