cautionary tale: leaving Track Changes on your resume

Today I got a resume where the candidate had left Word’s Track Changes feature on. As a result, I could see all the edits someone had made on his resume, and I know that they weren’t his own, because they also included suggestions like “you have to beef up the first paragraph.”

I don’t have a problem with him having editing help; I have a problem with the carelessness. It made him an instant rejection, even though he was otherwise qualified.

There are so many silly ways of shooting yourself in the foot that are easily avoided if you pay attention.

{ 21 comments… read them below }

  1. Karla*

    That's cute and silly at the same time. On a positive note, it's proof there are some Word skills there :-)

  2. A Girl Named Me*

    I suggest that applicants send their resumes in PDF.

    Not only will this take care of the above situation, sending in PDF will also assure that the reader can open the files being sent and view them as intended – avoiding issues with the various versions of word processing programs and Mac vs. PC.

  3. Cris Janzen*

    Good reminder!
    HR should take note of this too. Once when I was helping a client negotiate a new position, she forwarded her job offer to me and I discovered the sender had left track changes on! They had created her offer over someone else's for a similar position in a different market. It was nice benchmark data and she did well.

  4. Deirdre HR Maven*

    I notified a candidate that she had submitted her resume with track changes still on and for whatever reason, the hiring department still wanted to consider her. I told her that she needed to resubmit it. She thought I was offering to make the corrections FOR HER. I told her no, she had to fix it herself and resubmit.


  5. Anonymous*

    Regarding .pdf files as an alternate way to submit a resume:

    It's been a couple of years since I was responsible for an applicant tracking system, but I recall that .pdf files were the worst…they would not import at all.

    Not everyone has the software to make .pdf files, either. It's very expensive.

  6. Anonymous*

    It is no longer expensive to buy software to create pdf's…unless $10 is expensive.

  7. Ask a Manager*

    Can't you normally just do it from Word?

    In Word, go to Print, then click "save as PDF." I've never understood why they put that option in the Print menu, but there it is.

  8. Rebecca*

    Who's still paying for PDF-creating software?

    FYI – Older versions of Word will not let you convert to PDF. (My workplace is still using MS Office 2000.)

  9. Rebecca*

    ETA — no, I am not advocating stealing; I am advocating downloading one of the awesome free PDF programs out there. Foxit is my personal favorite, but there are a half-dozen others to choose from, and plenty of reviews out there in the tubes to help you decide.

  10. Anonymous*

    I've had that happen to me as well (as a manager) – instant rejection. I had fun reading the deleted comments, though :)

  11. Andy Spence*

    I must admit I have submitted a CV in Word with 'track-changes' on view….very embarrassing, but thankfully not too many sarcastic comments! I always use PDF.

  12. Anonymous*

    I also use PDF (unless the recruiter specifies they need Word due to a system limitation), and anyone can make PDF files for free using Open Office (even though, as AAM mentioned, it's also possible to use Print to File in Word to do so).

    Open Office allows you to easily save not only text but also presentations (like PowerPoint) in PDF, which makes a much better distribution format.

  13. Vanessa M.*

    Google Documents also allows for saving in PDF format – anywhere, anytime, free! I *heart* google.

  14. Timothy Jones*

    This is yet another reason why software developers (at least the ones worth having) absolutely BALK at using Word for resumes. We know just how bad it is.

    And by the way, OpenOffice is totally FREE and has had PDF from the very beginning.

  15. Anonymous*

    “even though he was otherwise was qualified.”

    … sorry, what were you saying about carelessness?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I make occasional typos here because I write and post this stuff quickly, in order to be able to post more of it. I write casually here, just as the commenters do. This is a blog that I do for free on my own time, in order to help people, not in order to impress an employer.

      If one more person decides to make a snide point with a comment like this, I’m going on strike for a week. Seriously. It’s obnoxious.

  16. Peter B*

    It is very arrogant of you to disqualify someone because of something as simple as this. These potential employees are heartbreakingly hopeful that they are going to get a job with your company, and you just throw them to the curb because you are “smart” enough to see a feature they used on Microsoft Word to help them create the most compelling resume. Instead, you should have taken the time to interview the individual who “otherwise was qualified” and given them some kind of hope.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What?! The application process isn’t about taking the time to give people hope. It’s about finding the best person for the job. Someone careless enough to leave Track Changes on in something important as a resume is saying that they’re not going to take care with work that clients see, etc.

      1. Shaun*

        “Someone careless enough to leave Track Changes on in something important as a resume is saying that they’re not going to take care with work that clients see, etc.”

        Yeah, sorry but unless their day to day job is Wording, Powerpointing, Exceling all day you’re just flat out wrong. You realize that Track Changes can be on AND show the final markup? With the new ribbon in Word unless you click on the “Review” tab you may not even know it’s still on. Strikes me as incredibly stupid.

  17. Mele*

    I know this is an old post, but can I just say, having recently stumbled upon this site and going on a reading frenzy, (2 yrs of posts still to go), that I’m a little appalled at the amount of people who criticize AAM for her opinions, grammar, spelling, whatever! If you don’t like it, why do you insist on reading/posting? This is a very helpful, FREE advice site. If you disagree, do so respectfully. Especially when you disagree with the moderator. Please. :)

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