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Employers reveal biggest resume blunders in annual CareerBuilder survey

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Thu, Aug 13th 2015 07:00 am

7 in 10 employers spend less than five minutes reviewing a resume

More than 1 in 2 have caught a lie on a resume

Creating an attention-getting resume can be a tall order for job seekers in today's fast-paced hiring environment. According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, the majority of employers (70 percent) spend less than five minutes reviewing a resume, and half (48 percent) spend less than two minutes.

Perhaps it is the desire to stand out that compels some job seekers to include some unnecessary, inappropriate or downright untrue information on their resumes, which hiring managers regard as a job seeker faux pas. For its annual survey, CareerBuilder asked hiring managers to name the biggest blunders they have caught on resumes - from innocent gaffes to obvious lies.

The national online survey was conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll between May 14 and June 3, and included more than 2,000 full-time, U.S. hiring and human resources managers across industries and company sizes.

Not 100 percent qualified? Not a deal-breaker: Job seekers may also be beefing up their resumes to compensate for not meeting all of the requirements listed in the job posting. Their fears, however, may be unfounded. According to the survey, 42 percent of employers would consider a candidate who met only three out of five key qualifications for a specific role.

"Job seekers have the unenviable challenge of grabbing - and holding - a hiring manager's attention long enough to make a strong impression," said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. "Embellishing your resume to achieve this, however, can ultimately backfire. Most hiring managers are willing to consider candidates who do not meet 100 percent of the qualifications. Job seekers can increase their chances for consideration by proving past achievements that exemplify an ability to learn, enthusiasm and cultural fit."

Most memorable resume blunders: For the survey, hiring managers gave the following real-life examples of blunders they have caught on resumes:

  • Applicant claimed to be a former CEO of the company to which they were applying.
  • Applicant claimed to be fluent in two languages - one of which was pig Latin.
  • Applicant wrote "whorehouse" instead of "warehouse" when listing work history.
  • Applicant's personal website linked to a porn site.
  • Applicant introduced himself (in the cover letter) by saying "Hey you."
  • Applicant vying for a customer service position gave "didn't like dealing with angry customers" as the reason for leaving her last job.
  • User name of applicant's email address was "2poopy4mypants."
  • Applicant claimed to be a Nobel Prize winner.
  • Applicant claimed to have worked in a jail when really in there serving time.
  • Applicant who claimed to be HVAC certified later asked the hiring manager what "HVAC" meant.
  • Applicant said to have gotten fired "on accident."
  • Applicant claimed to have attended a college that didn't exist.
  • Applicant for a driver position claimed to have 10 years of experience, but had only had a driver's license for four years.
  • Applicant listed as a reference an employer from whom they had embezzled money and had an arrest warrant out for the applicant.
  • Applicant's stated job history had him in three different companies and three different cities simultaneously.

Honesty: Still the best policy: When it comes to impressing hiring managers, one of the biggest mistakes a job seeker can make is lying, which is more common than one might think. According to the survey, more than half of employers (56 percent) have caught a lie on a resume. When asked to name the most common areas around which job seekers lie, these employers named the following:

  • Embellished skill sets: 62 percent
  • Embellished responsibilities: 54 percent
  • Dates of employment: 39 percent
  • Job titles: 31 percent
  • Academic degrees: 28 percent

What employers really want: When it comes to getting employers on their side, however, job seekers may have more options than they think. When asked what attributes would cause them to pay more attention to certain resumes, employers named the following:

  • A resume that is customized for their open position: 61 percent
  • A resume that is accompanied by a cover letter: 49 percent
  • A resume that is addressed to the hiring manager or recruiter by name: 26 percent
  • A resume that includes links to the applicant's online portfolio, blog or website: 21 percent

Survey methodology: This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,532 hiring and human resource managers ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed) between May 14 and June 3, 2015 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 2,532, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.95 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies. 

About CareerBuilder

As a global leader in human capital solutions, CareerBuilder specializes in cutting-edge HR software as a service to help companies with every step of the recruitment process - from acquire to hire. CareerBuilder works with top employers across industries, providing job distribution, sourcing, workflow, CRM, data and analytics in one pre-hire platform. It also operates leading job sites around the world.

Owned by TEGNA Inc., Tribune Media and The McClatchy Co., CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the U.S., Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.

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