Hiring managers' top 3 resume pet peeves—and how to avoid them


Resumes are a vital part of the job search — but even one small mistake on your CV could cost you an interview.

Some mistakes may even compel a recruiter to toss your resume into the "no" pile before they finish reading it. Nearly 70% of recruiters said resume deal-breakers like missing contact information or an unprofessional email address could cause them to immediately dismiss a candidate from the hiring process, according to a 2018 survey conducted by TopResume, a resume writing service.

CNBC Make It spoke with recruiters and hiring managers to find out their biggest resume pet peeves and how job seekers can avoid them.

Spelling and grammatical errors

The most glaring red flag career coach Stacey Perkins notices on candidates' resumes is a misspelled word, followed by poor grammar, she tells CNBC Make It.

"That will really turn me off," she says. "After the first or second error, I'll probably stop reading their resume altogether." She's not alone — 79% of hiring managers in TopResume's survey listed spelling and grammatical errors as their no. 1 deal-breaker when evaluating a candidate's resume.

Perkins critiques resumes and helps clients prep for job interviews at Korn Ferry, one of the nation's top executive recruitment firms. The first piece of advice she passes on to applicants? "Proofread your resume!" she says. "Hiring managers want to be able to quickly and clearly see your experience, not get distracted by spelling and grammar errors."

Outdated portfolio or LinkedIn profile

In today's digital word, it's smart to include at least one hyperlink to your online portfolio or LinkedIn profile where a hiring manager can see more of your work — but only if this information is up to date, says Ryan Sutton, a district president at Robert Half, one of the world's largest staffing firms.

Sutton estimates that he's reviewed thousands of resumes in his professional experience as a hiring manager. One of the fastest ways to disqualify yourself as a job candidate, he says, is to have an unprofessional, outdated LinkedIn profile or portfolio connected to your resume.

"It's an important step that a lot of candidates neglect," Sutton says. "Linking to an old portfolio or profile indicates that you're not conscientious or prepared for the hiring process."

Sutton recommends updating these sites with your latest work, a recent headshot and a background photo that speaks to your professional experience, like a photo of the city you work in or a stock image of a clean work space.

Resumes longer than one page

Carter Cast, a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and the former CEO of, has vetted a lot of resumes throughout his career — and submitting a long document is the quickest way to get rejected by a hiring manager, he says.

"When I receive a seven or eight page resume, I groan," he says. "If you submit a big document like that, the chances that it's actually going to be read by someone are very low."

Resumes, Cast explains, are important documents to start a conversation between a hiring manager and a candidate, so keep bullet points succinct and only highlight what Cast calls "the good stuff": big projects, accomplishments and results from past work experiences.

"Don't be windy," he says. "If you've been working for less than five years, your resume should only be one page, and if you've worked for 10 years, it shouldn't be longer than two pages."

Have a friend or mentor edit your resume and read your bullet points out loud a few times to make sure the wording flows, Carter suggests.

The career expert has even taken his own advice. "I've been working for 30 years and cut my resume down to three pages," he shares. "It really makes a difference."

Check out: Want to get your resume noticed? Ditch these overused phrases—and add these verbs instead

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These college seniors had job offers lined up–then the pandemic hit
These college seniors had job offers lined up–then the pandemic hit