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Build Your Career Get the Job

The Biggest Résumé Turnoffs Revealed

The Biggest Résumé Turnoffs Revealed
Credit: faithie/Shutterstock

Volunteer experience, grade point average and schools attended are the least important factors hiring managers consider when deciding whether to bring a job candidate in for an interview, according to a study from the Addison Group staffing firm.

Job seekers would also be better served by not detailing their entire professional experience. The research revealed that 55 percent of hiring managers think résumés should cover only the past 10 years of a candidate's experience, and that they view anything more as irrelevant.

Even though job seekers often spend time carefully crafting the perfect cover letter, more than 80 percent of the hiring managers surveyed said they don't weigh the cover letter as heavily as other parts of the hiring process, such as the résumé itself, the interview and references.

So, what do hiring managers focus on, then? They do pay close attention to whether a résumé was targeted to the position: 90 percent of survey respondents said they notice when a résumé isn't tailored to the role.

Job candidates also need to make sure they thoroughly edit their résumés. The study found that 55 percent of hiring managers believe typos are the biggest résumé turnoff, and 46 percent said they hate unprofessional résumé formats.

Peppering a résumé with buzzwords also isn't the best way to get a hiring manager's attention. Specifically, 47 percent of those surveyed don't like seeing the word "expert," 40 percent hate "synergistic" and 31 percent dislike when "innovative" is included in a résumé.

To stand out in a positive way, job seekers should focus on their references and soft skills, the research revealed. Nearly as many hiring managers view a candidate's professional references just as important, if not more so, than the résumé itself. [Résumé Lies Catch Up With Job Applicants ]

Additionally, 41 percent of hiring managers rated interpersonal skills and overall demeanor as important factors in the hiring process.

It also may be helpful for job seekers to tailor their approach to the age of the hiring manager, as different generations value certain aspects of a résumé and the hiring process more than others. The research shows that proven results and references are more important to baby boomers than to millennials, whereas millennials focus more on a candidate's level of education. Gen X hiring managers value a candidate’s résumé significantly more than millennials do, with millennials trusting Facebook and Twitter to identify candidates significantly more than the other two generations of hiring managers.

"Trends in hiring manager preferences change over time, especially as the workforce is becoming more and more dominated by the millennial generation," Addison Group CEO Thomas Moran said in a statement.

The study was based on surveys of 505 employees responsible for hiring in some capacity at their company.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.