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Resumes from Hell and their lessons

Authors keep track of bizarre examples of what not to do


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In their years as recruiters, Jon Reed and Rachel Meyers saw plenty of resumes pass across their desks. Plenty were good... but some raised some eyebrows.

Reed and Meyers kept track of some of the more bizarre entries and compiled them in their funny new book, "Resumes from Hell" (eCruiting Alternatives, Inc.).

As Reed and Meyers point out, the mistakes these job-seekers made give us valuable how-not-to's for our own job searches. These are some example entries from their book, and some useful lessons for the rest of us.

Lesson 1

Keep all of the information on your resume relevant.

What not to do:

"When I'm not programming, I perform magic. I like solar applications, optical stuff, cool technology and anything to do with radio waves. I juggle and twist balloon animals. I bungee jump on occasion, and I would like to experience skydiving soon."

"I am attending college to obtain two degrees and three certificates in the field of Computer Science. In my spare time I like to work on my computer and do various activities with my girlfriend."

Lesson 2

Be specific with your qualifications, but too much information can work against you.

What not to do:

"Since the project was coming to a close and it was obvious I was leaving anyway, after the last bugs were fixed, I was fired, and my credits in the game were all but removed to make it more difficult to get a job with a competitor. It's a given that ... my old boss has been calling up everyone in the industry spreading God only knows what types of hideous rumors about me, to scare off any competitors from hiring me."

Lesson 3

Keep everything on your resume positive.

What not to do:

"Please Remember dear Sir/Madam, that I have failed in a few subjects in my diploma in computer engineering, and that I have no degree..."

Lesson 4

Take the time to find legitimate, glowing references.

What not to do:

"Dr. Frank C. Peterson had a Ph.D. in both Physics and Mathematics, and was a fantastic person to work and play with (I suspect our play would be called work by others, but we enjoyed our work so well that when we did things for Science, for which we were not paid, we called it play and it really was for us.) I only wish he was still with us (RIP).

"If you call my previous employer, they'll tell you that my technologies were also used in Bone Crunch Football and Master Blastoff (hook up your Caller ID blocker before calling this reference, these people are slime)."

Lesson 5

Don't be too quick with that send button. Double-check the address, subject line and tagline before you submit any message.

What not to do:

"Keep me posted on which headhunters you deal with. I am currently tied into 50-70 placement agencies, none of which are aware of the others.

"Hi Jon -- it's been a while since we talked. I ended up over at Johnson and Johnson in a full-time position. I saw a position in this week's newsletter that I'm interested in. It may be a stretch, but I thought I'd drop you a line with my resume and see what you think. Hope all is well.

Gdog G Gdog."

Lesson 6

Confidence is great, but there is such a thing as too much self-promotion.

What not to do:

"My objective is simple: I want your job. I don't mean the one I'm applying for, but your job. I'm a communications major with a minor in creative writing at a California school. I still have two semesters to go, but I know more than some of my teachers. Once I hit the real world, though, you're gonna hear from me."

Lesson 7


What not to do:

"When I saw your ad in the paper, my eyeballs literally fell out!"

"I am looking for a company that is driven to excellent."

Lesson 8

Adding fluff to expand your resume diminishes your credibility.

What not to do:

"Arranging chairs and tables for various school occasions, washing dishes, putting dishes and silverware into the dishwasher cycle, removing leftovers from trays, changing trash, wiping the tray belt line."

"Telepresence: Voice messaging, fax mailbox, direct phone to my desk."

Lesson 9

Politics, religion and other loaded subjects have no place on a resume.

What not to do:

"Though the right opportunity might not be available for several months, I'm willing to wait for the right situation. I'm 42, have a wonderful wife and two sons, and love Jesus Christ with all my heart."

Lesson 10

Badmouthing former bosses or colleagues will get you nowhere with recruiters or potential employers.

What not to do:

"In the management arena, I have originated and developed marketing leads. I have written winning proposals for federal and commercial contracts -- I later negotiated and balanced their budgets and schedules. I am an extrovert, and because of my exceptional ability to express myself, I have even delivered client presentations for projects other than my own to help my less gifted teammates."

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