5 Resume Mistakes That Can Make You Look Like a Narcissist: ‘You Might Not Get a Callback,' Says Career Expert

Henrik Sorensen | Getty
  • have inflated views of their capabilities
  • unable to point out just the ones that are relevant

Resume trends have changed dramatically in the past few years. Not only are recruiters' expectations higher, but they also have less time. They want resumes that will paint a picture of your background and skills — in six seconds or less.

They also want to know a bit about who you are as a person, which can often be reflected in your resume. As a career coach with 20-plus years of experience in recruiting, I have seen that one of the biggest turnoffs, according to hiring managers, is a resume that screams: "I'm a narcissist!"

As Amanda Augustine, a counselor at TopResume, once told me, employers are hesitant to hire candidates who have inflated views of their capabilities — because there's a high chance they may be difficult to work with. And while she understands that not all candidates intentionally write their resumes this way, it can still lead to a bad first impression.

Here are the five biggest resume mistakes that can make you look so self-absorbed you might not get a callback:

1. Leading with an objective statement

Objective statements are outdated and only serve as a distraction that says: "Me, me, me."

The first thing a recruiter sees shouldn't be a sentence about what you want from them. Employers need to know that you can satisfy their requirements before they can start thinking about how to satisfy yours.

The fix: Ditch the wordy, self-important statement (e.g., "I'm a detailed self-starter looking for ...") and go with an eye-catching headline that broadly references your background (e.g., "Connecting talented people with jobs they love").

2. Long bullet points

Including bullet points under each work experience is the best way to neatly highlight your experience. But I've seen way too many resumes with bullet points that take up three or more lines.

Any bullet point that's more than two lines is overdoing it and just ends up looking like an excessively long run-on sentence.

The fix: Remove any unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. The goal of a resume isn't to tell your entire career story; you just want to hit on a few key points and qualifiable accomplishments that reflect your strongest skills.

3. Fancy fonts and too much bolding, italicizing, underlining

As a hiring manager at a tech company once told me, this can be insulting to the reader: "It's almost as if they assume I'm not capable of navigating their resume, so they overdo it with the bolding, italicizing and underlining."

Fancy fonts are also overwhelming and unnecessary. Unless you're applying for a position that requires visual creativity (e.g., a graphic designer), keep the style and formatting as simple as possible.

The fix: Don't underline or italicize anything. Only bold section headers and job titles so that the reader can easily follow your career progression. Use clean-looking fonts such as Calibri, Helvetica, Arial or Times New Roman.

4. A multipage resume

If you've had a long and distinguished career (e.g., an executive with 20-plus years of experience), don't worry about trying to keep your resume to less than one page. Just don't go over three pages, because that's when it becomes difficult to hold a recruiter's attention.

If your experience doesn't warrant that much space, however, a multipage resume will only hurt your chances of landing an interview. It could look like you're trying too hard to sell yourself — so much that you don't even know what skills are most relevant to the position.

The fix: If you've held a lot of previous jobs, consider removing any that are unrelated to the one you're applying for. Positions that are too entry-level compared to your current experience level (e.g., a high school job or college internship) are also unnecessary if you're struggling to keep your resume to one page.

Lastly, never include the "Recommendations available upon request" note at the bottom. Employers only care about this if you make it to the final interview rounds.

5. Including a headshot

While a photo is normal — and actually recommended — on social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Twitter or even on a professional website, it's best to avoid putting one on your resume.

You don't want the reader to be distracted by your photo, according to Augustine. Plus, you could be setting yourself up for discrimination.

The fix: Let your accomplishments, not your looks, speak for you.

J.T. O'Donnell is the founder and CEO of Work It Daily, an online platform dedicated to helping people solve their biggest career problems. She has more than 15 years of experience in hiring, recruiting and career coaching. For career tips, follow her on TikTok @jtodonnell.

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