7 Things No Headhunter Wants to See On Your Resume

Would you hand an important business contact your business card, dog-eared and coffee stained? Hardly. But your resume is just like a good business card. For this reason, you should always make sure that it presents you in the best possible light. Headhunters read countless resumes every day – from project leaders to senior executives. They know exactly what’s important to succeed in these meetings. When you want to impress an executive recruiter with your resume, it’s important to give it your best. Here, we’ll show you 7 things no headhunter wants to see on your resume.


1. “My first summer job …”

So you’re an executive, and most likely, you’ve already had plenty of great work experience – that’s all good and fine. But it’s incredibly important to focus on your largest successes, that you’ve had in your career thus far. No headhunter is interested in knowing that you worked at BMW for a summer. This includes internships you had during college – unless they’re extremely relevant to the position that you’re currently applying for, you can and should leave them off of your resume. Be sure to avoid giving a headhunter your entire life story, and focus instead on just the most relevant qualifications and experiences that underline why you’re the right fit for the position.

2. Unstructured, Unclear, Inconsistent

Headhunters have very limited time. In order to determine a candidate’s potential as quickly as possible, they need to find the most important information on your resume at a glance. The key word here is “structure.” The more clear your resume is, the more efficiently a headhunter can find what he’s looking for. When he has to flip to the third page of your resume to find your current job, chances are high that he’ll lose interest very quickly. So avoid long, run-on sentences. Instead, consider bullet points to create an overview of your most important tasks. When it comes to presenting your resume, the more precise it is, the better. And don’t forget to pay attention to consistency – use the same typeface throughout the whole resume, as well as layout and numbering schemes.

3. “Skilled in Microsoft Office”

To impress a headhunter, you need a precise resume that leaves little room for interpretation. Vague phrases are simply taboo. For example, when you’re mentioning your Microsoft Office capabilities, you should also list the programs that you’ve mastered, as well as your level of expertise. Perhaps your Excel skills are “very good,” but you would only consider your PowerPoint knowledge to be “basic.” Provide a clear self-assessment so that the recruiter can assess your areas of expertise. No headhunter wants to see vague descriptions on your resume.

4. Sweetgirl55@googlemail.com

It’s completely okay to have a private email address. But if this address sounds at all unprofessional, then it should never appear on your resume, nor should you ever send a resume from this address. When a headhunter receives an email from “sweetgirl55@googlemail.com, that message will wind up in the Trash folder – if it’s not sorted directly to Spam. If you don’t currently have a professional sounding email address, this is the time to change that. The same goes for your Skype username, in case you wind up doing an interview.

5. Comic Sans & Co.

So you’re applying to a position as a graphic designer – no? Then avoid experimenting with crazy or dramatic typefaces and design. Headhunters place no importance on fancy fonts – rather, they appreciate a modest and professional looking resume. You won’t win any fans with bold colors or flourishes – your resume should simply demonstrate your strengths, instead of distracting headhunters with flashy designs.

6. An Out-of-Date Online Profile

In the last few years, it’s become more and more trendy for candidates to create and maintain their own online profiles. Generally speaking, it’s recommended to do so – here, you can list your qualifications that you may not be able to fit into your resume. You can also present a more full image of yourself, than one can normally gather from just a simple resume. In the same way, your Twitter count can also be very useful, as long as you use it in a professional context. Show headhunters that you can contribute to important online discussions in your field (leadership, employee motivation), and underline your core competencies. As soon as you’ve linked an online career profile, you should regularly update and maintain this account. When a headhunter notes that your Experteer profile was last updated in 2012, this hardly puts you in a good light when it comes to your career motivation.

7. Irrelevant Tasks and Daily Procedures

Naturally, you should list your tasks and responsibilities on your resume. But don’t bore headhunters with your daily routine. Organizing meetings? Providing employee feedback? You’re a senior manager – to recruiters, it’s crystal clear what kind of responsibilities an executive has every day. Concentrate instead on your successes – perhaps you’ve put together a further education program for your employees? Maybe you led a successful marketing campaign. This will make your resume more interesting – and help you to take the next step in your career.

Now you know the tricks to present yourself in the best light. Keep these all in the back of your mind, when remembering what a headhunter wants to see on your resume – and what they don’t. We wish you success in finding – and landing – your next great career opportunity!

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