Resumes: What Employers Don’t Want


Knowing what Employers do want, that is effective ways to communicate with them that you are worth an interview, you might be interested in what ticks them off.

There are so many ways to detract from your resume, that we’d never cover them all, but you’ll get an idea.

Before we begin let’s set a goal. You do not want to irritate the person who decides who is hired. He or she is a total stranger, and you don’t know what makes them  happy. It’s a bit like email: Something meant in the best way goes down the wrong throat. Let’s tackle a few. There will be plenty of time to deal with the rest in the blog:

The most obvious, but still all too frequent:

Cute Pictures, graphics, colorful presentation: Yours is a professional resume. Why would you embellish it with pictures of grapes or cute cartoon chef hats. Forget the graphics. They don’t impress.

Weird fonts. Your resume shouldn’t look like a sign for a wild west saloon.

Your Praise of you: We mentioned that employers want facts, not opinions. You are the least subjective person about your abilities, so it’s questionable that a statement like Excellent Manager, Highly Competent Chef, “I am sure that my abilities will surpass your needs,”  will work to your advantage. Don’t call yourself “Renowned” . If you are, he already knows about you. Statements like these frequently go in a list of bullets at the beginning which take focus from your background,  the  important part. If they don’t irritate the reader, it’s probably because he skips them.

Superlatives. Hyperbole.  Think for a moment how many resumes the guy who receives yours has read with terms like “Top”, exquisite, highly talented (talking about yourself again? You need to get over you). “Exquisite”, “Best”,  and imagine him growling as your list of superlatives come up. Then don’t write them.

Lots and lots of bullets with everything you have done followed by one line listings of the places you have worked. Read the previous piece. I repeat: What you did at what kind of place for how long. Nobody has time to do a connect the dots exercise on one of five or fifty resumes, and it’s not a trick to make the HR director pick up the phone and call you.

Cliches. There’s an admonition in writing “If you think you’ve seen it before, write something else.” If it doesn’t mean something but just sounds swift, it’s wasting your space. This includes declaring your passion. Everyone does. Be different. Don’t.

Date games: Remember, employers are looking for stability, and a series of dates like 2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2003 are suspect of being obfuscation of a pretty jumpy career.  For one thing, is 2001 – 2002 2 days or two years. (12/31/01 – 1/01/02 or 1/01 – 12/02.  State months and show pauses in your work.

Claptrap, bull and outright lies: Con artists do get lucky – it’s stuff for a blog, but people usually pick up on it. Employers don’t like this.

Your hobbies, your high school grades, your score at the culinary school if you graduated five years ago. There may be some exceptions to this, but this information doesn’t apply to what you are doing, so it wastes your space.

Name dropping. While celebrity dining spaces require extra skills and tact, the specific celebrities have little to do with the quality of your performance. Why, ever, why would you brag that you cooked for George Burns or Clinton?

Lots and lots of jpg’s or other attachments: A picture is worth a thousand words and a big one takes forever to download. More on media and pictures later, but until asked, don’t bombard some poor guy with five hundred of them.

Anything that moves or flashes or makes noise. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Heavy parcels by mail. Really. This is annoying. You have no claim on the limited real estate on the top of my desk. Don’t push your luck by trying to conquer it with your glamorous stuff. You can offer if we talk. If you do send it, you should not expect anyone to run to the post office to return it.

Unsolicited references per mail or calls who pretends to be your agent.   (which is a con game and who doesn’t know it?)

Your life story. That would probably be a bio. “Chef John Lucifer drew his culinary inspiration from his grandmother, who taught him to broil squirrel on an open fire.”

Two pages of awards and press. We’ll go into this sometime, but for now just choose the most important and leave the rest for the interview.

Testimonials in quotes. It’s just hokey. I would do just about anything to avoid someone who sends me a page of testimonials.

There are two things your future employer may not need:

A)  A summary of qualifications. This depends on who you are. If you have been involved in complex operations,  a competence list can help. And with bullets, as long as you give detail to the specific jobs.

B) An objective. Objectives serve a purpose when they actually say something, like. “I am seeking a multi level management position in an organization with at least five units”, or better, “I am interested in the Gyro Giant’s open regional manager position, as it would permit me to exercise the expertise I accumulated working for the five unit group Johnson’s Jam Shop.” Of course, some things can also go in cover letters. They will have their time here, as well.

There’s so much more. Anyone who works with people in this business has a keen nose for those who don’t play well with others, for ego and arrogance, for shiftyness and sense of entitlement. The email (not made up) I am a celebrity chef, please download my resume from www.chefgeorgeisyour screams out load, “This guy things he’s better than you are.”

Coming up: Jumping over your shadow. You CAN write a resume. And it’s easy.

  4 Responses to “Resumes: What Employers Don’t Want”

Comments (4)
  1. Good information, I am fixing up my resume after 4 years at culinary school and I was wondering if all my high school information, awards, and anything previous to my college BPS degree is relevant anymore? Thank you very much

    • Not unless they have something to do with your career. A trade tech high school with a culinary program is pertinent. Your sports are not, nor are your high school grades. If you worked in a restaurant during school, then don’t hesitate to add it. It shows you were interested early and followed your focus. Glee is less impressive.
      Everything in your resume should refer to your professional status and your career. Anything else is wasted real estate.

    • If you have a post high school degree, your high school performance is ancient history. Resume real estate is valuable and needs to be saved for the really important information. White space is preferable to a lot of fill.

  2. very good information, thank you so much