6 Big Résumé Flaws—and How to Hide Them


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    • ranavain

      I think this is all really great advice, with one exception: functional resumes are generally a bad idea, as is only listing the years you were working and not month/year. Both make hiring managers think you’re trying to hide something, and of course in this case, you are.

      It doesn’t help in retrospect, but the best way to deal with gaps is to be volunteering, taking online classes (there are plenty of free ones, like Codecademy), SOMETHING so that you have something to put in that gap.

      • paganheart

        Ditto. I don’t know anyone who has successfully found a job using a functional resume, yet so-called “experts” continue to tout them. Talk about useless advice.

        Also while it would be nice if we all filled our gaps with volunteer work, learning new skills, etc., what if the reality is that you didn’t? What if the reason you haven’t worked in several months is because you’ve been taking care of your terminally ill father? Or you were seriously injured in a motorcycle accident? Or you had a nervous breakdown and have been under psychiatric care? I personally know people in each of these circumstances, and all are struggling to find new jobs. Let’s be honest, admitting any of the above scenarios to your average HR person or hiring manager will likely send them running as fast and as far away from you as they can. So what are you supposed to do? Lie and say that you have been doing things you really haven’t been doing, and pray you don’t get caught? Or should you just “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and try to start your own business? Or hang on and pray that you’ll find someone desperate enough to hire you? Or just give up and go on welfare and become a leach on society? I know a few people who would sure like to know…call it “career advice for the 90 percent who don’t live a glamorous life…”

        • ranavain

          Well, I don’t know that 90% of people fall into those categories you laid out, especially when we have at least a 90% employment rate, but ignoring that…

          If you were seriously injured (mentally or physically) or taking care of a family member, that’s fine to note in your cover letter. Of course, you do so demurely and non-specifically, saying something like “After taking time off due to an ailing family member/personal injury/personal circumstances, I’m looking forward to getting back into x work.” It’s not as good as magically not having a gap, but it’s certainly better than having the gap and not explaining it.

          If it’s a choice between letting them assume the worst and telling them something slightly better, I’d go with the latter.

    • Frugalista

      I’m not sure about the advice regarding an unrelated major. I had a useless bachelor’s degree, but went on to get an MBA. Even with an MBA, I still get screened out of a lot of jobs because of my undergrad major

    • retrospeth

      I began to notice that the resumés and LinkedIn profiles of my most successful peers focus on success and results of projects rather than on itemized, daily tasks. For so long I listed things like “writing copy for weekly e-blast; assisting Producing Manager with artist hospitality needs.” I rewrote to explain how I was an integral part of redesigning that e-blast and how I project-managed the entire visa application process for 5 artists. I feel so much more confident about my resumé now. It says, “Look, I get things done to improve the organization I work for.”