5 Reasons Your Resume Looks Unprofessional

By: Peter Panacy, Staffing Coordinator

Hiring managers can sort through hundreds, perhaps thousands, of résumés each and every year. Ensuring yours stands out in the right way is contingent on a lot of factors. But a surefire way to have your résumé wind up in the discard pile is to have it look unprofessional.

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There’s no one right way to create a résumé. But there certainly are better ways to create one than others.

One tricky thing about creating a résumé is the creativity part of it is completely up to you. You decide how you want to make it look and stand out. But remember, this document is a direct reflection of your professional abilities.

If you’re unsure where to start, check out what Blue Ribbon Personnel Services had to say about creating an ideal résumé.

But don’t just stop there. Go through these five reasons why your résumé could have an unprofessional look to it. If you notice anything like these on your own résumé, it’s time to make some changes.

  • A Bad Email Address

    Your name and contact information will almost always be at the top of a résumé. This is often what any hiring manager sees first.

    Unfortunately, it’s all too common to come across a résumé with an unprofessional email address – you know, the one you had back in high school or college.

    I’ve seen emails like “surferboi@host.com” or “fungirl4eva@host.com” on résumés, and even worse.

    You can keep that email if you’d like. Just don’t put it on a resume. Instead, come up with a professional one with your name in some variation – like john.doe@host.com. Most email hosts are free these days, and it only takes a couple of minutes to set up a new account.

    Put that professional email on your résumé and you’re good to go!

  • Poor Grammar, Punctuation and Other Mistakes

    Granted, not all of us are experts on perfect grammar, punctuation and spelling. But believe me, hiring managers are looking for any reason to discard a résumé. And those easy-to-make mistakes are surefire ways not to make it past the résumé review phase.

    For example, I see the acronym “HIPAA” spelled out as “HIPPA” on many a medical résumé. And I’ve seen medical offices turn down applicants simply because of this.

    Poor grammar, punctuation, spelling and formatting can make a business think you’re not paying attention to the details or aren’t taking the time to carefully review what you’re submitting.

    If you’re not willing to do this on a résumé, a company might wonder about your abilities to pay attention to the details on the job.

    When in doubt, have another set of eyes read over your résumé to catch what you might have missed.

  • It’s not Visually Appealing

    A résumé is all about providing an employer with your professional profile, skill set and experience.

    Yet it’s not just what you lay out on your résumé, it’s how you go about doing it.

    I’ve seen résumés where the text blends together into one long-running biography that reads more like a novel than a résumé. If your résumé is hard to read, for whatever reason, you can all but guarantee hiring managers won’t take the time to read it.

    So make sure your formatting looks good. Use bullet points, subtopics and other means to break up your résumé into easily digested sections.

    The hiring manager’s eyes will thank you for it!

  • Your Résumé Has Too Much Fluff

    You want your résumé to stand out from the pack, but only in a good way.

    Some résumé templates allow for creative graphics, fonts or layouts, and those can be fine. Just don’t go overboard. I’ve seen résumés with all kinds of artwork, weird fonts and even photographs all over the place.

    Being creative is OK. You just don’t want your creativity to take away from the professionalism you want to convey to a hiring manager.

    Personal photos on résumés fall into this category. Unless you’re applying to a modeling and/or acting agency, where your face will be important, it’s generally best to leave your headshot or portrait off the résumé.

    Hiring managers will get to see your smiling face in person during your interview.

  • A Résumé Is Too Long, Short or Even Incomplete

    Not long ago, employers might have looked down on résumés longer than one page. But employees are changing jobs now more than ever before, so one-page résumés can easily leave out some of your most notable accomplishments.

    Two-page résumés are just fine these days. But you should probably resist the urge to go any longer. Trim the excess if you can, especially if you find your résumé filling into page three.

    On the flip side, short résumés don’t always look good either. I’ve seen résumés where the employee worked 10-plus years at what looked like a complex job, only to list a mere line or two of job duties and accomplishments below the position.

    Be detailed if you think your résumé lacks enough substance. Break down the major points of your previous positions and experience. And don’t forget to add in all those accomplishments that made you successful in your last job.

    And incomplete résumés? Yes, they’re out there too.

    It’s easy to find résumé templates on the internet now. All you have to do is fill out your own information, click “save” and bam, you’ve got a complete résumé.

    That is if you filled out everything completely.

    A favorite example was a candidate who didn’t fill out the objective section of the résumé template. It read, “Enter in a brief description of yourself and what kind of position you’re looking for.”