Top 5 Resume Fails

resume-job-interviewBefore you start a job search, understand that your resume will NEVER get you the job. The only thing your resume can do is get you an interview. Once you get to the job interview, you must act as though your resume does not exist.

What can prevent your resume from getting you the job interview?

The only time your resume will be read word for word is when it is parsed into the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This happens when you respond to a posting. The ATS is programmed to alert the resume reviewer for certain “hits.” Once alerted, a resume reviewer will use their human eyes to view your resume. It is true that the average resume reviewer will look at a resume for 6.25 seconds before taking 1 of 5 actions. That does not seem like a lot of time, but given that the human brain has 30 thoughts per second, a lot can happen. There are probably about 25 reasons that come to mind right away, but the following five things can actually prevent you from getting the job interview.

Here are the top 5 resume fails

Someone Convinced You to Use a Functional Resume

A “functional” resume starts with a big summary of skills and accomplishments and then just lists the jobs with no content. It’s common for an executive to have had experience several years back that he/she wishes could take the main stage, but using a functional resume to do this has come to mean that the candidate has no recent relevant skills and is trying to use a summary tactic as a trick. Tricks work once or twice then they become red flags.


In Real Estate, this word is quite common. It refers to listing a property with too many descriptive phrases and adjectives vs. just stating the facts. Why even say “cozy?”  We know it means not enough room to turn around. Puffery in a resume will send the message that you have nothing substantial to offer.

Your Most Recent Job Looks Tossed In

This is one of the most common errors made by six-figure professionals. If your most recent job is not the star of the show, it will send a message that either you were too ambivalent to put any investment or effort into your most recent resume update, or you just hung out and got a pay check. Neither of which will get you the job interview.

Your Most Recent Job is Not Relevant to the Opportunity

If your most recent role is just a job you took to pay the bills and is not relevant to your intended career track, you may have to face the fact that your resume may not be the best tool you have to get your next job. Worry not. Inbound marketing and networking will be your best tools in this case. As an executive, positioning yourself as a thought leader is more accessible than ever on LinkedIn. Be very thorough about your LinkedIn profile optimization and brand messaging. Do not leave this to chance.


Whether it’s “typos,” “first person” wording, or formatting errors, these types of mishaps can give the impression that you have no attention to detail or you really don’t care. It is nearly impossible to proof your own work as our eyes have a tendency to see what they think we wrote, so if you are in a timing pinch and cannot get and an executive resume done, at the vary east, ask someone with a good eye to proof your resume.

Do not let your resume hurt your chances of getting what could be the ideal job!

Saundra Botts

Saundra Botts

Saundra is known for “opening doors” and has also facilitated Job Search and Transition Workshops for universities, FENG (Financial Executive Networking Group), and various executive leadership groups. Her depth of experience includes has over 15 years in Retained Search and contingency placement within corporate accounting and finance sector with First Call Search, Dubin & Lee and WinterWyman Search. Saundra has consulted with clients, ranging from start-ups to multi-billion-dollar conglomerates. She has worked with $12 billion companies building accounting and finance teams, succession planning, and hiring, as well as filling key positions at many medium-sized, publicly-traded companies; non-profits; and universities in Boston, Miami and Los Angeles.

Saundra provides strategic guidance and coaching to help ExecuNet members land their next opportunity. This includes uncovering their unique personal value proposition and defining competitive differentiators to advance their careers. This also includes providing detailed feedback for improving a member’s personal marketing collateral—well beyond their résumé.

Saundra Botts is an ex-Headhunter turned executive candidate advocate who shares the behind-the-scenes truths on how executives really get their next job. Mrs. Botts has recruited through three recessions and has researched and documented why some people remain in demand, despite the economic climate, and others are not. In 2008, during an economic downturn, she noticed that executives get hired for different reasons than the other 97% of the org chart and began to educate her executive clientele to get them working again quickly.

After working for the top search firm in Boston, WinterWyman Search, and running her own Retained Search Agency, Saundra decided to take the inside information she’d acquired and use it to help executive professionals, most of whom are embarking of their first-ever job search, understand the differences in job search strategy when you make over $200K annually to avoid wasting time, avoid exploiting valuable network connections, and land their ideal role.

Saundra’s passion is to open doors and educate, to help everyone make the career of their dreams a reality.

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