Seven things you don’t know I know from reading your resume

by K B , updated on April 16, 2011

OK, I’m quite prepared to be shot down in flames from all sides for writing this. Shoot me down anyway for starting this blog with a cliché, but here’s what I (as a former recruiter) and other recruiters can work out while we are reading your resume.

1. English is your second language.

Your English could be text book for the most part, but I can still work out whether it’s your second language, just from a quick read of your resume. You may leave off an “s.” or you use words in the wrong context. Here’s some strange expression I’ve seen lately: “Providing delightful customer service” “Maintain and strengthen customers” “Organizing equipments” “Good skills in….”

If you are new to Australia, one of the major concerns local employers have about employing you, is how well you communicate. Behind this concern is another concern about how well you’ll fit in. Any incorrect choice of words will fuel any negative stereotypes a recruiter may have about your communication skills. Have a “local” speaker read over your resume before you send it. (Good practice for anyone, really)I receive enough emails from recent arrivals to know cultural stereotyping is a major problem.

2. You want your experience to sound more impressive than it is.

I have often seen people describe a stint of counter service at McDonalds as: “providing high levels of client service.” While this statement is not incorrect, it is misleading. A client is generally someone whom you deal with more than once. A customer is someone who comes to the counter. Most recruiters know what people do at McDonalds, so this statement just sounds silly. The person who wrote the above has oversold what they actually did and not mentioned what is really challenging or interesting about a job at Maccas. Anyone who works there for any length of time can generally work well under pressure and serve people in a fast paced and highly measured environment. That’s the interesting part.

3. You lack confidence or have not done much self-reflection before sending in your resume.

Nowhere on your resume can I read anything about you personally. If you do not tell me your strengths or achievements, I am either going to assume you don’t have any, or do not think they are important enough to list. Most of the employers whom we interviewed for the book, want their employees to be “self aware.” They want people to understand their strengths, so they can apply them to the job at hand. Read what they say here on self awareness. I am not talking about a laundry list that sounds like any other person. That’s almost as bad as no strengths at all.

4. You don’t want to tell me how old you are.

I know this because you have not put dates on your study. And fair enough too. Many of the emails I receive are from people worried that they are 40, 50 or above. While I have not seen any out and out age discrimination in my time in recruiting, I receive enough questions and heard enough horror stories about this to know it exists.

5. You don’t know how to market yourself.

You haven’t sent me a cover letter or written a career objective on the top of your resume. Reading your resume I have to guess what it is that you want to do.

6. You are not that serious about wanting this job.

Read point five.

7. You do not write very often, or well.

You have too many redundant words on your resume. If you have a list headed “responsibilities, then I do not need to read that you are “responsible for” on the very next line. Other examples are where you say “in order to” instead of just “to” or “planning and strategizing” which are pretty much the same thing.

For more information on resumes read:

Why a career objective on your resume is important
Watch out for these resume red flags
How long should a resume be?
Don’t make these top 10 resume mistakes
Even if you’re gorgeous you shouldn’t put your photo on your resume


Do you make one of these top 5 insanely dumb mistakes on LinkedIn? Click on this link , and we’ll send you our FREE report, PLUS some awesome tips to help you lure recruiters and employers to your LinkedIn profile.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Elena April 4, 2011 at 1:34 am

Hi, Karalyn

You are writing that “any incorrect choice of words will fuel any negative stereotypes a recruiter may have about communication skills” and then you advise to ask somebody to review the resume to ensure it is written in a “correct Australian fluent” style. However, what about an interview? Say, the resume is written and sounds “local” , but then when the interivew follows, the recruiter will immidietly understand that the candidate in real life is not so “local”. what to do then? I mean how important is to sound local on the phone or face-to-face interview?Can accent and “not so perfect” communication skills ruin the inteview or be a major turn off for an interviewer?
Few times I have been interviewed on the phone and I realised that the incorrect using of some English vocabulary ruined my chances to be selected for further the face-to face interview.
Another question, is it important to be bubbly during the interview? However, it is very difficult for me to be bubbly, because English (as you found it out already) is not my first language. And the last relative question, if my personality is more introverted and I dont speak a lot and prefer listening to speaking, can it have a negative impact on the interview’s decision to hire me.

Thank you, Karalyn

karalyn April 6, 2011 at 5:16 am

Hi Elena,

I am going to answer your questions in a post I am about to write. Lovely to speak with you today as well.


Emma Lazarus April 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Hi Karalyn,

I am about to graduate from uni and am going to apply for a permanent government role, could you please send me some info about resume writing costs etc?
Although I have applied for jobs before and have a (dodgy) resume I want a professionally written one to improve my chances of obtaining a good job!

Thanks Karalyn

@NYLibrarians February 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm

→_→ “What secrets does your resume share without you knowing?” ( )

@CRRSinc February 13, 2013 at 7:30 am

What secrets does your #resume share without you knowing? – via @InterviewIQ

Karalyn Brown (@InterviewIQ) (@InterviewIQ) April 19, 2013 at 11:04 am

What secrets does your resume share without you knowing? #resume #jobsearch

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