more things you shouldn’t do when applying for a job

Things I’ve seen candidates do recently that you should not do:

* Starting a sentence in your cover letter with “As a loving wife and mother…”

* Including your Social Security number on your resume. And your salary history. And hours worked per week in each job.

* Using a spam filter on your email that requires anyone who wants to email you to first fill out an online form verifying that they are a real person. Do you really want to throw up a barrier between you and employers trying to contact you (many of whom might miss the email requesting verification, meaning that their email will never reach you)?

* Talking about yourself by name, in the third person — as in, “Alison’s achievements include…”

* Leaving comments turned on in your resume, so that I can see all the suggestions someone made to you about how to improve your resume.

* Stating that you’re “uniquely qualified” for the job. You can’t possibly know that.

* Not including the dates that you held the jobs listed on your resume. This is a good way to immediately make an employer wonder what you’re trying to hide.

* Sending your resume and cover letter in Pages, which is a program that most people don’t have on their computer (thus meaning most people wouldn’t be able to open your materials). Use Word, PDF, or plain text.

P.S. I’m quoted in this story about networking for teens in Teen Vogue.

{ 133 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymously Anonymous*

    Is it the “loving wife and mother part’? I hope so because I start my cover letter with ‘As a ‘real job title’ (I’m not trying to start a debate about whether being a sahm isn’t a real job)

    ok let me try this again… my cover letter starts with ‘As a chocolate teapot maker for the past 6 years…’

        1. Anonymous*

          Saw a resume recently that had a bullet for “in a committed relationship for the last 8 years”

            1. Ruffingit*

              If you live in Hollywood, a committed 8-year relationship would be an accomplishment. If you don’t live there, it’s not. :)

      1. Collarbone High*

        How about “As someone who hates her husband and children”? Would that work? :-)

        1. RJ*

          Yes! “As someone who hates her husband and children, I prefer to work 90 hours a week, especially nights and weekends, for minimal compensation.”

    1. Kelly O*

      How about “as a loving wife and mother who is probably ONLY as loving as she is because I have other adult interaction roughly nine hours of the day plus the fifteen-twenty blessed minutes of peace and quiet between daycare and work, and who wishes to continue to live on this side of the law…”?

  2. Wilton Businessman*

    1. *cringe*
    2. *shake head*
    3. I can’t stand those things, even for friends. Look, I get you don’t like spam, but it’s a necessary evil.
    4. Did your mother write this resume for you?
    5. I see that all the time.
    6. Well then, why don’t you just start today?
    7. That tells me you’re either 17 or 70.
    8. If you need Pages for your resume, it’s too fancy.

    1. IT Panda*

      “8. If you need Pages for your resume, it’s too fancy.”

      Not necessarily, my resume is in Pages because I created in on a Mac and hate the way Microsoft’s programs work on it. I also wrote my thesis and all my college papers (with standard formatting) in it.

      Now would I send it in Pages format? Oh heck no, but Pages is really just a word processor for Mac. I think you may be thinking of it as a MS Publisher stand-in, but that’s not the only way to use it.

      1. Wilton Businessman*

        Ugh, yes I meant MS Publisher. I don’t call it Pages, I call it iWork, but yes you are correct, Pages is a great word processor.

    2. Josh S*

      #6: Uniquely qualified

      To be fair, each candidate has a unique set of qualifications, simply because each candidate has a different job history, education, and set of accomplishments. So yeah, the candidate was technically correct that he is “uniquely qualified”.

      But that’s the equivalent of saying, “I am a special snowflake. Hire me,” which is almost as terrifying to read as a hiring manager.

      1. Kelly O*

        My mom says I am the best chocolate teapot maker she has ever seen.

        I won a blue ribbon in 4-H when I was twelve for chocolate covered pound cake, which I am certain is applicable to your opening.

        1. Marigold*

          “…plus my mom says i’m the handsomest guy in school.”
          -Milhouse Van Houten.

      2. SCW*

        I was once asked in an interview to tell them how I was uniquely qualified for the position. My answer was that I was sure there were many different combinations of skills that would make someone successful at the position, and that I felt that my skills were a particularly good match, and then went on to give more details. I don’t know why they asked it that way, because they were doing interviews for three open positions, so they had to be looking for more than one person! I did actually get the job too.

  3. MentalEngineer*

    Hopefully the snarkiness surprises nobody…

    But I kind of hope that Teen Vogue runs a brief follow-up to that piece that simply says: “What those girls were wearing? Don’t wear that to work. 8” of thigh in the workplace is 8 too many.”*

    *Unless you work in NY fashion or something.**

    **Men should not wear short skirts either.

  4. Harrumph*

    Poor Alison, your brain and eyes need a break. :( These sound…special.

    My coworker likes to write blog posts about informal topics (like what our students are working on) by calling the students by their last names, as if it’s some Wall Street Journal article. But it just sounds stilted, because she doesn’t even say like “Ms. Smith” (which sounds silly, but at least properish), she just says things like:

    Smith describes her experience working on the Jones collection of chocolate teapots as “a wonderful introduction to chocolate tea crockery that I can’t wait to repeat!”

    I mean, come on, they’re undergraduate students, not NATO officials. It’d be more fun and less snoozeworthy if you said “Jane worked on the Jones collection of chocolate teapots, and said she enjoyed her introduction to teapots!”

    1. Mike C.*

      Does your coworker do stipple portraits as well? That would make up for it I think! :)

    2. Anonymously Anonymous*

      Ha! I can relate to this. The beginning of the year my co-worker insisted we write a little bio about ourselves to display outside our door. She sent me and another colleague her sample via email. I never opened her sample so I just wrote mine (in first person) and gave it to her the next day. That day I read hers and it was in 3rd person. Jokingly, I asked if she was interviewed by someone and didn’t she think it sounded a little bit silly written in 3rd person. Then she said our other colleague had written in 3rd person too. I’m guessing they read the sample. Anyway I begrudgingly changed mine to 3rd person so I wasn’t the odd ball since all the bios were going on one sheet of paper. I couldn’t stop feeling like I was some narcissistic athlete though.

      1. Harrumph*

        Ahhh, alas, peer pressure. ;) Wouldn’t it sound a little odd, if people were coming by your office and reading your little blurb? Wouldn’t they rather be “introduced” to you -by- you (in first person voice), rather than by someone else (with third person)? It just seems so……pompous. Or like…being introduced in a ring for a wrestling match. ;D Hahah. Well, I think more AAM readers (and me!) are on your side. :D

      2. Al Lo*

        See, and to me, a first-person bio sounds wrong, because I work in theatre and program bios are always in third person. If I get one in first person, I change it before the program goes to print. A resume is different, of course, but a bio should always be third person, in my opinion.

        1. Rana*

          Yeah, most of the author credits and short bios I’ve seen have been in the third person. I have to admit to preferring them; it’s easier to talk about my accomplishments when I can pretend I’m referring to someone else, rather than bragging on my own behalf.

        2. Anonymously Anonymous*

          Yeah. Just seems too weird *to write in 3rd* when the bio is written by *you*. I understand it may vary on preference I guess, most biographies I’ve read are in first person if its written by that person. I can see how 3rd person would be used if there is an *appearance*(for lack of a better word) the writer wants to convey. Such as all information coming from one 3rd party source (like an interview). Also i’ve had a few of references request that I write my own reference (due to time constraints–using factual information related to them of course) then they verify and sign off on it. First person, to me, is personal. Someone writing about his self in third seems seems farther removed from their reader.

  5. Heather*

    My grad school applications (well, one school) required hours per week on resume, so it’s not out of left field..but I’d never do it on a real resume.

    1. SCW*

      Yeah putting how many hours we worked was a requirement for our resumes for the county I work at, so they can determine eligibility for positions, since it has to be full time work. They also specified they wanted a resume that focused on job duties not achievements.

  6. Anonymous*

    I’m tired of seeing “loving wife and mother” or “loving husband and father” on resumes and professional profiles. You have a family, and that’s nice, but to me it’s not relevant to me. It won’t make me more likely to consider someone for a job, it won’t give them “bonus points,” the only effect it might have is that I’ll assume they’re not interested in relocating for a job unless they say something to the contrary.

    I also used to see a lot of resumes where women would list being a mother as a job, with things like “coordinated household X” or something on there, and listing either her husband or family as her employer. By all means, note that you’ve been a stay-at-home parent trying to get back into the workforce, but listing your husband as an employer is creepy, and trying to pass off household duties as transferable job skills won’t fool anyone, nor is it “cute.”

    1. LV*

      I’m seeing this pop up a lot on Facebook – not as bad/potentially damaging as putting it on a resume, but still annoying. After she had her first child, an acquaintance of mine changed her profile to “Works at Stay-at-home wife & mother” with her baby listed as the “organization” and his birthday as her start date. (Before that it was just “Stay-at-home wife” with her husband’s name.) Like you said – it’s not cute, it’s creepy.

      1. Harrumph*

        Uuuugggghhhh. I’m seeing that more and more, is it a generation thing? Placenta brain? And just stupid stuff trying to be cutesy… one of my friends (an aspiring writer, sigh) lists herself as … oh. My. Well. (Just went to check. lol. It gets better.)

        THREE separate “positions” at the job “The Written Word”:
        Current — Renaissance Woman
        Previous 1 — Goddess of Clarity
        Previous 2 — Goddess of Confusion

        I mean, seriously? -_-

        1. Chinook*

          I understand the first two, but who the heck would brag about being the one who causes the confusion?

      2. annalee*

        Wow. Do these folks not realize they can leave the employment info blank/hide it if it’s not applicable to them?

        Being a stay at home mom is a job, and I’m not saying it isn’t. But listing your child as your employer is weird. And listing things like “stay at home wife” just makes you look like you’re really self-conscious about not being gainfully employed.

        There are plenty of reasons a person may not be drawing a paycheck, and nobody owes their entire social circle an account of what those reasons are. If the field is blank, chances are pretty good that no one is going to notice or care.

        1. Rana*

          just makes you look like you’re really self-conscious about not being gainfully employed

          Yeah, a lot of the aggressive enthusiasm in such situations comes across as defensive to me. I don’t come away after that feeling impressed; rather, I feel sorry for the person.

      3. Kelly O*

        My personal favorite is when they list that, followed immediately by “it’s more work than you’ll ever do!!” with about a million exclamation points and some random caps thrown in.

        I actually asked one repeat offender what she thought I did, since I work outside of the home and still have to do all the things she does (cook dinner, do laundry, raise a child, etc. etc.) She seems to think daycare does a whole hell of a lot more than daycare actually does.

      4. Calla*

        Facebook is AWFUL for this kind of thing. My older sister lists, direct quote: “ITS NOT REALLY A JOB, ITS A DREAM COME TRUE! at STAY AT HOME MOM, ITS THE BEST JOB EVER!” as her job. I can’t decide if that’s better or worse than my mom, who lists “” as her education (and I believe “professional doormat” was her occupation before she became Chairwoman of the local NRA).

    2. Chinook*

      Atleast, if you are going to brag about your organizational skills as a housewife/husband, you should have more than the average number of children. People have been doing this for millenia and, for most of that time, they didn’t have runnign water or electrcity. Now, organizing a household with 10 or 12 kids – that might be worth bragging about (I still can’t believe the extended family memebrs who did this in a house with 3 bedrooms and no running water or electricity. That takes skill!)

      1. Manda*

        My dad came from a family bigger than that and they lived in a tiny house that didn’t have running water for a while.

        These days, having that many kids gets you a show on TLC, but instead of showing the world what it’s like raising a huge family on a normal income, you just make money off the show, start living an outlandish life, and no longer have to have a regular job to support that large a family.

    3. Ruffingit*

      Agreed on all. Also, putting loving wife and mother on a resume or professional profile makes me think “As opposed to what? Hateful wife/mother?” I assume you’re a loving wife and mother if you have a husband/family or at least I hope you are so stating it as thought it’s something special is kind of weird.

      1. Rana*

        No kidding. I would assume that if you’re a married parent, the “loving” part should be taken for granted as part of being a decent human being. And that’s all that phrase really implies to me: “I’ve met the standards for being a decent human being, so give me a cookie.”

        “As a person who remembers to brush their teeth every day…”

        “As a person who files their taxes on time…”

        “As a person who picks up after their dog…”

        “As a person who doesn’t undertip waiters…”

  7. Ash*

    The “loving wife and mother” reminds me of the Chris Rock bit about how people want acknowledgement for things that they should be doing automatically (i.e. “You want a cookie for not going to jail?”).

    Shouldn’t you just be a loving wife and mother (if you are one or both)? I mean, wouldn’t that be the default? I feel people like that would also put “As a living, breathing person” if they thought it would help their chances.

        1. Kelly O*

          I love you people so much sometimes.

          I am adding Physiologic Ventilation to my skills section NOW.

    1. Anonymously Anonymous*

      Agreeing. Love the Chris Rock reference!

      I’m still in disbelief that someone would put that line in a cover letter and/or use their husband as a employer…creepy.

    2. Rhoda*

      I feel like that about ‘honest and trustworthy’ but I’ve actually been advised that stating the obvious is a good thing.
      Surely most people are honest? And if they’re not, they won’t go round admitting to being a compulsive liar.

      1. fposte*

        Stating the obvious, sure; stating the subjective that everybody would say about him or herself, not so much. (Might be fun to be oxymoronic and say “I’m afraid I’m not at all honest,” though.)

  8. LV*

    I agree with not putting down the number of hours worked, but should employees specify on their resumes which jobs were part-time?

    While I was getting my MLIS, I worked at my university’s library for 15 hours a week. I couldn’t *not* put it on my resume since I had very little other experience in the field. I didn’t indicate that it was part-time, but I worried that potential employers would call the library for a reference, find out it was only a 15-hours-a-week job, and think I was deliberately misrepresenting it to make them think it was full-time.

    1. TheBurg*

      I’ll admit I don’t know much about the LIS field, but how would putting down a job be misrepresentation? You’re not saying it was a full-time job, just that it was a job. I don’t think 15hrs is so low that you need to worry about it, but I could be wrong.

      1. LV*

        I naturally assumed that a hypothetical hiring manager would assume (heh) that it was a full-time job.

    2. Natalie*

      I hadn’t ever really thought about it before, but I wouldn’t be especially worried about this. I’ve never specified if a job was full time or not. IMO if your resume says you worked at a library from 2000-2004 and also that you graduated in 2004, the interviewer will put it together.

    3. Kit M.*

      For LIS jobs, I’ve read in some places that you should say whether a job is part-time or full-time on a resume, but I’ve rarely seen it done in practice and I haven’t done it myself. I had a boss who told me not to bother when I raised this concern with her.

      However, I think it’s good to remember that work is assumed to be full-time unless you indicate otherwise. I did have a worrying moment when I mentioned in a phone interview that I was looking forward to full-time work. I could practically hear the HR person’s ears perk up as she asked, “Wait, you only work part-time? How many hours a week?”

      I got the job, so I know it didn’t hurt my chances, but I should note that my part-time experience still added up to the minimum amount of full time experience that they required (i.e. I had two years working half-time for a job that required one year experience). I’m not sure how important a factor that was in getting me to the next round of interviews.

      1. Kit M.*

        Based on the replies below, I should add that I was in school while working part-time, and the HR person still assumed I was working full-time until I said otherwise. But that’s just one person, of course.

    4. Harriet*

      Wouldn’t people assume that a job you did while you were at school was part-time anyway?

    5. Zed*

      I think many people would assume that a library job you held during your MLIS program was part-time. This is particularly true if you worked at the same university you attended and if the job title was one usually associated with part-time graduate students.

      Where it gets tricky, I think, is once you’ve graduated, if you have part-time professional positions. I know I worked at a couple of different libraries as a part-time librarian, and on my CV I was always careful to note that they were part-time. (Note: I did not, of course, include the number of hours I worked at each per week–that’s weird.) Partially I did this because otherwise it would have looked like I had several full-time jobs at once. But I also didn’t want to misrepresent myself. In most cases, part-time librarians don’t have the opportunity to do the same tasks as a full-time librarian. They may only do reference, for example, but not do any collection development, budget management, liaison work with academic departments, committee work, etc.

      Maybe noting that the positions were part-time was a mistake? I know some of my coworkers listed the positions on their CVs as though they were regular full-time employment, but whenever I saw that it made me REALLLY uncomfortable.

      I might have missed out on some interviews by calling attention to the fact that these jobs were not full-time, but I’d rather be rejected for being honest than rejected for seeming dishonest. Especially because I have noticed that in libraries everyone knows each other and people talk.

      I did benefit in some respects, though. Some of my job tasks and accomplishments wouldn’t have been impressive for someone who had been working full-time, but for a part-time employee they signified going above and beyond and volunteering for extra projects.

  9. Jessa*

    Congratulations on being mentioned in despatches again. You’re very much the go to person for advice like this. That’s awesome.

    I just do not know how anyone would submit a resume/application/cover letter starting “As a loving…” unless they were applying for a nanny or caregiver type position and even then, it looks very odd. Very, very strange, maybe to a certain type of religious organisation that is hiring?

  10. Chinook*

    #5 – I would laugh uproariously if I saw the comments still turned on in a resume that brags about having advanced Word/computer skills. I love irony.

  11. Anonymous*

    I’ll also throw in that resumes in other countries often have different formats or required information. I’ve seen resumes from candidates from India that listed their parents’ names and blood type, and I figure that stuff is normally on resumes in India.

    1. Collarbone High*

      My Japanese and Korean colleagues were horrified that I didn’t know my blood type. One of them said, “How are we supposed to know if we like you?”

      (And then I found out I’m AB, and that’s considered the worst type in Japan, so I kept telling them I didn’t know.)

        1. annalee*

          In some parts of the world, there are superstitions around blood type similar to Western superstitions around astrological signs, so that’s probably what they were getting at there. It’d be like a person here saying they have no idea what their sign is.

          1. HR Competent*

            Pieces, O negative.

            In Chinese astrology I’m a “Fire-Horse” That sounds much sexier.

            1. Tekoa*

              In Chinese astrology I’m a “Fire Tiger”. Beat that sexiness!

              And is there a Water-Dog sign? and would that person then smell like wet dog? Not sexy.

          2. Anonymous*

            Yeah, I watch anime and when characters are introduced their profiles will sometimes mention the blood type of the characters, especially in lighthearted comedy shows.

          3. Jazzy Red*

            Do they need to know when you’re menstruating, too?

            Some things just *are* stupid.

      1. Anonymously Anonymous*

        ok first I thought blood type was some type of font…or you meant bold type font.

        Anyway that would explain why my Asian friend asked me my blood type. I said I didn’t know and he seemed surprised by my response. I vaguely remembered finding out my blood type when I had my first born over 17 years ago.

        1. Rana*

          I’ve needed to know my blood type for a long time. I’m O-negative, so it’s not something I can be casual about.

          I don’t know what it equates to in the blood-type-personality thing though.

          (Metal Dog, go!)

        2. jennie*

          I recall a while back Dear Prudence answered a letter saying she didn’t know her husband and daughter’s blood type and people in the comments went crazy saying you’re putting your children’s lives in danger if you don’t know their blood type because how will they get a transfusion? Implying that medical professionals will just ask, not test for blood type before starting a transfusion.

          I still don’t know mine.

    2. Nev*

      In Bulgaria 10 years ago it was accustomed to note in the CV your age, marital status and if your driving record is clean or not. Pictures were also a norm, which I think did much more disservice to potential candidates than vice versa (apart from being completely discriminatory).
      The first examples of cover letters that I read started in the lines of “My name is … . I have been raised in a humble, but proud working family..”

      1. Y*

        Picture, marital status, date and city of birth as well as nationality are still standard on German resumes. Religion isn’t anymore.

  12. De Minimis*

    My microbiology prof would flip out if we didn’t know our blood type, but only because “you’ll probably die if you get in an accident and they can’t figure out what blood to give you.”

    1. fposte*

      S/he crazy, I think. First, if you’re in that bad an accident, you’re not likely to be available for comment; second, I don’t think they just go on your say-so anyway. (Card in wallet from the blood bank is another matter.)

      1. Natalie*

        I was always under the impression people get the universal donor blood if they are in a serious accident and need blood immediately.

        1. Canadian mom*

          That’s right. In serious situations when there’s no time to do even an emergency cross-matching, the default is to give O-negative blood. Of course regulations in jurisdictions differ, but I doubt whether any hospital would go by a wallet-card specifying blood type. How do they even know whether it’s the correct ID for the accident victim?

          1. Liane*

            Just to complicate things, ABO & Rh +/- aren’t the only blood groups. At least some of those more obscure groups can cause transfusion reactions.

          2. Nev*

            You’re right. No hospital in the US (or Canada I guess) will make a transfusion without testing the blood type first. I believe there are testing kits that are used in emergency situations that show results within minutes. And there is a strict protocol in place as wrong blood type transfusion is one of the surest ways one can kill a patient.

    2. Rana*

      I think it’s only really a problem if you have a rare or challenging blood type (I’m O-negative) or have other related concerns (like being pregnant).

      I can’t imagine a hospital not typing your blood before transfusing, in any case. If time is that much of the essence, I think you’re pretty much done for already.

  13. Lar*

    How about do not use an email address that includes the word(s) hot, sexy, beer, drunk, weed, lover, naked, nude, party, lazy or any word you wouldn’t want your mother to hear!

    1. HR Competent*

      I knew a woman that used an email “hernameaslut@…”
      Another guy was “hiname420@…”

      1. Evan (now graduated)*

        I was just going through some old notebooks and found an email address that I thought read “lovLastname@…”. Then I looked again, and it actually was “livLastname@…” A lot more proper.

    2. Sandy*

      I saw an email from a candidate that was her first name (which ended in an ‘a’) and then her middle and last initials, which is professional, but her middle and last initials were “nus”. Every time I looked at her email address, I kept seeing ‘anus’ at the end.

  14. Anon*

    And your salary history. And hours worked per week in each job.

    This is true for the private sector, but it’s mandatory for federal resumes.

    1. jenb*

      Yes, and many countries expect you to include marital status and a picture on your CV. Including hours worked and salary history on a resume for the private sector is as silly as including you picture and marital status on a resume in the U.S. Something that is appropriate in once context isn’t necessarily appropriate in another. I’ve done hiring in field with a great deal of back and forth between government and private. We often received resumes that were clearly formatted in a way that was appropriate for applying for a federal job, but clearly wrong for the private sector. I always figured there were a few possible explanations. All had the same outcome. 1. They knew it was wrong, but were too lazy to format (straight to the trash). 2. They had no idea it was wrong because they didn’t bother to consider and research what might be appropriate – so what else do they not know and why are they too lazy to try to get this info (straight to the trash) 3. They knew it was wrong, but figured their way was better so they did it that way anyway (straight to the trash).

      1. Anon*

        Wow. I didn’t say anything about pictures or marital status, and I’m really not sure why you’re bringing up what’s done in other countries. This is a difference within the same country, not coming in from a different one with completely different expectations. Why would someone expect vast requirement differences?

        So I do take issue with your #2. How would someone know it’s wrong for private companies? Telepathy? There are a lot of things I’ve been told to do for resumes, most of which contradict each other, and that’s just my personal experiences. People get told a lot of things. Federal tells you right out: “you need this information on your resume”. How is someone to magically know that it only applies to federal resumes and is not general information? They don’t. “Researching what’s appropriate” is easy when the places tell you flat out what they want; most places don’t do that. A philosophy of “those who know, will know” is a great way to screen out candidates who don’t format their resume in a way you don’t tell them they’re supposed to.

        No matter of that, I was replying to this post to clarify that AAM’s point is incorrect for federal, and in those places, leaving them out will get your application tossed. So it’s in effect, the opposite of your point.

    2. Sancho*

      I saw this on a non-profit’s website:

      We invite qualified candidates to send a resume, and cover letter with salary history and desired salary (only candidates who send salary requirements will be considered for the position).

  15. Brton3*

    I want to defend the phrase “uniquely qualified.” I happen to have a very unusual combination of seemingly unrelated skills and degrees and previous positions that turns out to be useful for one particular category of job. In each of the last three jobs I’ve held, I can almost guarantee you that I was, in fact, uniquely qualified. If I meet someone with the same qualifications as me, I will eat my hat AND their hat.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Could certainly be. Usually when I see it used, though, it’s from candidates who aren’t especially uniquely qualified — they fit the basic profile, at best.

    2. Joey*

      Everyone could argue they’re uniquely qualified based on their combination of life and professional experiences and it would probably be true. For me, that’s why its a pretty pointless statement.

      1. Brton3*

        Well, I think literally every statement on a resume/cover letter is pointless unless you can back it up with specific examples. Plus, people can argue they are uniquely qualified, but they can’t necessarily argue that they are uniquely qualified for THIS job.

  16. Anlyn*

    Oh, dear. I just sent out my first application in 15 years, and forgot to have a summary on my resume. Oops. I did have a cover letter, though.

    1. Elise*

      I didn’t have a summary on my resume — and I got the job. As long as your resume is easy to scan quickly and you have a good cover letter, don’t worry too much.

  17. Monica*

    Oooh please let me add this example I found last week:

    Skills: Reading and Writing.

    Granted it was for an entry level position, but man…. I laughed pretty hard.

    1. Ruffingit*

      LOL! Did they also include standing upright and breathing? Sorry, just can’t imagine what would compel someone to put reading/writing as skills on a resume.

      1. mel*

        I have had somewhat illiterate boomer family members who thought my ability to read and write should have given me a fantastic high paying job, and couldn’t understand why I was still such a loser! heh.

  18. Joey*

    Here’s a few:

    – write “see résumé” on an application instead of filling it out.
    – write “will explain” as a reason for leaving a job on an application.
    – list a phone number on your résumé that’s disconnected.
    -write work history on your application that’s different from your résumé.
    -write “no growth opportunity” as a reason for leaving with no job listed for the next two years.

  19. Anon*

    I was chatting with a friend and he brought up a good point. If you were applying for a job in house cleaning, child care, or food services would it ever be appropriate to use the sentence, “As a loving wife and mother…”?

    1. UK HR Bod*

      Nope. Unless the job was actually to be a loving wife and mother, and I don’t know if you need CVs on dating sites?

      1. Ruffingit*

        I agree. Being a “loving wife and mother” doesn’t mean you have the skills for house cleaning or child care. You can be a loving mother to your own kids, that doesn’t mean you have the ability or patience to wrangle 20 toddlers in a daycare setting for example. Same deal for house cleaning. Quite often, people don’t keep their own homes clean to the standard required when doing that job for a living.

        So no, I don’t see loving wife and mother as ever being appropriate. To me, it’s akin to saying “I’m an honest and moral human being…” UH…OK. One would hope so, but does that qualify me to process millions of dollars in a bank for example? No.

  20. Henry*

    If you ever want to open a Pages document without Pages, rename it to and there’ll be a PDF of the document inside the folder. (Not that this makes it okay to not send it in a universal format, but sometimes mistakes happen).

  21. MovingRightAlong*

    May I actually recommend not sending a Word document either? When you don’t know what system the receiver is using, default to a universal format.

    A Text Edit User

    1. shellbell*

      It is hard for to imagine a scenario were a business is not equipped to read a word document on the other side. I would say a word document is the universal format in %99.9 of all fields. I generally send pdf’s, but I can’t imagine second guessing sending a word doc.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I send both the Word and PDF version of my resume when applying to jobs. I’ve had situations personally where I couldn’t get a PDF to open one day (some problem with the program), but I could open a Word document. So, I send both versions just in case. I figure the person on the other end should be able to open one of them, if not both.

      2. MovingRightAlong*

        Hard to imagine, until you’ve worked at one of those businesses. At one of my old jobs, I didn’t have Word because the software I primarily used only ran on OS. It’s an industry standard with literally only one alternative. I had no need for anything more than a basic text program and there was no money to spend on a completely unnecessary license. Some clients I worked with still sent me Word documents, though, which I could usually reformat, but sometimes it just resulted in something unusable. In those cases, the clients just got to pay my bosses more for my time.

        So yes, it’s unusual, but it happens. Generally, I just find the assumption rude, because it puts the onus on the recipient to reformat the document and the result may or may not usable. I’m speaking in broad terms here, not just concerning resumes. If it’s a resume, I’d say it’s even worse to make that assumption because if the hiring manager can’t open it, it could be going in the trash.

        1. Manda*

          OpenOffice is free and opens Word documents. If a business can’t open a Word document and they don’t state that in their job ad, then it’s their problem if half the applicants send a Word file. Same goes for any other context. If you need a file from a client and it has to be in a specific format, then say so. People aren’t mind readers. And formatted documents look a hell of a lot nicer than plain text.

          1. MovingRightAlong*

            Of course people aren’t mind readers, but that goes both ways. When it’s so easy to send something in a universal format, I think it’s rude to assume the receiver will have whatever software you want them to. If you have a strong preference for a Word document, why not just ask if that’s ok or state the preference, while still providing a pdf or other format?

            I agree, formatted documents look way better than plain text and generally send pdfs unless a text document is requested when it comes to resumes.

        2. shellbell*

          So you are telling me that you were receiving .doc and were unable to open them? I sort of find that hard to believe. You were putting word docs in the trash? How did you ever hire anyone?

          1. MovingRightAlong*

            As I said above, I could convert them, but sometimes even after the conversion they were a complete mess. These were files from clients who knew not to send me Word documents, but I never trashed anything without converting it first and checking the results. 95% of materials they were sending me should never have been put into a word processing document in the first place because the quality is simply too low (therefore, trash). The materials were actually unusable. Again, these were sent by people in a position to know better and were in fact paid by their respective companies to know better and not waste everyone’s time by sending materials in the wrong format. Perhaps it’s my bias from having to re-request things from people who default to Word so many times, but I wish people would put more thought into how they share information.

            I never trashed anyone’s resume at this company, because I was not in a hiring position. I’m saying that in all cases, I don’t know why you’d even risk the 1% chance that someone would go to open your resume, find they couldn’t, and move on to the next candidate. Again, maybe it’s never a concern in your job, but there are lots of other businesses out there.

    2. Rana*

      Where it gets fiddly is if it’s a docx versus a doc file. Sometimes the conversion gets hinky if you’re dealing with older software, especially if the file is large or graphics heavy (which shouldn’t describe a resume, of course).

      1. Manda*

        Same thing I said above.^ If a business is still using Word 2003, which was from ten years and three versions ago, I shouldn’t be expected to know that. If they can’t be bothered to make it clear they need a .doc and not a .docx file, too bad.

          1. Manda*

            Maybe in the future when my resume has more content and I have to use a smaller font than I am now, I’ll send it as a PDF. But for now, I don’t like how it looks as a PDF. When I write it up in Word, and then save it as a PDF, the PDF file at 100% zoom is larger than the Word document at 100%. I think the PDF is more like the actual size of a sheet of paper. (Sure, they can view it at whatever zoom level they want, but I assume it will default to 100%.) To me, the text just ends up looking huge and I’d rather not decrease the font size because there would be too much white space. If they ask for a PDF, then fine, but if they don’t specify (and some online application systems list a number of accepted formats), then I just go with Word.

        1. Jessa*

          I still use it and there’s a FREE plug in that will let it read the new X style documents. Any company that due to legacy programmes is stuck using older versions can upgrade and it’s incumbent on their IT department to upgrade them to the ability to read it as well.

          But I completely agree that if a specific format is needed or desired, it should be clearly set out in the advert.

      1. MovingRightAlong*

        Yes, so can Text Edit. If it didn’t, I might be forced to pay for Pages, but I really don’t have the money to spare. When it comes to resumes, if asked for a Word document, I usually export it to .doc and include a pdf as a back up. The conversions are getting better and better, but I’ve still seen problems arise when someone’s using an older version of Windows. Most recently, all the tabs had turned into those boxes that represent unrecognized characters! Not very professional-looking, so I was glad I had taken a look at it on a friend’s computer before sending it out.

  22. Magen*

    Hello , I am an Independent Contractor for a travel agency. When they need extra help with promotions they give me a call. How do I list the date of this on my resume? I only help out every couple months during the weekend. I have a daily job in a laboratory and don’t want it to seem like I have two full time jobs.
    Any Ideas?

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