20 Recruiters Reveal What Makes People’s Resumes Stand Out From The Rest Or Fail Miserably

Published 1 year ago

Writing a resume that stands out can be a somewhat daunting task. Capturing your skill set’s essence into a two-page document takes a special kind of talent. After all, job recruiters often receive hundreds of thousands of applications and have to weed through all sorts of useless garbage to identify the gems worth the hassle of hiring and training. 

So it’s no wonder that some people are overlooked even though they may have the skillset required by a particular organization because either they didn’t know how to translate their assets into proper ‘business speak’ so the recruiter is able to identify the value within it. So what makes hiring managers give a resume a second look? One internet user asked for resume stories, and the answers from hiring managers may help you the next time you update your resume. 

More info: Reddit

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Image source: NothingBreaking, YuriArcursPeopleimages

I was hiring for a very competitive IT role last year and one guy, who didn’t have the best real world experience, added a single QR code at the bottom of his CV. I scanned it and it took me to an online portfolio, including a secure lab with simulations he’d ran, allowing ME to test scripts he’d written and also play around in his lab environment. Honestly, I’d never seen anything like it. The guy got the job and has continued to be a great fit.


Image source: anon

Someone had on their resumé “I do not complain. I’ll do what you ask and I won’t complain. I’m willing to work hard and go the extra mile…without complaining. I do not like complainers and whiners and I will never be one.” I called him immediately. He’s been here 6 years now and is easily the most reliable employee we have. He complained one time though. Another employee accidentally set him on fire and he said he didn’t want to work with that guy anymore.


I asked a guy why he had periods of months and years where he didn’t list jobs. He responded “I don’t really like to work. Look, if you treat me well, I’ll treat you well and work hard.” I liked his no b******t attitude and hired him. He was a great employee.

Image source: anon


Image source: BexieB

I had a resume from a potential interview candidate that listed his reason for leaving his last job as: “I found a body.” No further explanation. You bet your sweet patootie I called him in for an interview. (As a strategy to get an interview, it worked!) The condensed story is that he found a body while walking the grounds at his job checking to make sure all gated areas were secure and clear of debris. When he found the body, he called the police. He was fired because he broke internal reporting protocol. He was supposed to notify his immediate supervisor and not outside authorities. It was the supervisor’s responsibility to call the police.


Image source: evonebo

Once I received a resume that had “Raid leader for WOW in top guild of a server” this was about 9 years ago.

The other hiring managers laughed their as**s off and said this guy is a joke and they all dismissed him. Me, I asked the guy to come in for an interview and he did pretty well and I hired him.

The reason I brought the guy in for interview was because I’m an avid WOW player at that time and I know the s**t raid leaders go through. Trying to get a large number of people together, coordinate resources and rewards, getting guides together and telling people to up their healing/dps and not stand in fire. All done virtually via vent and forum postings (meaning you never met these guild members in person). You need some great leadership skills and project management. Also at that time I was dealing with a lot of people offsite so I thought this guy would be a good fit.

9 years later (I’ve left the company), the WOW guy I hired turned out to be great, especially in the last 9 years when corporations decide that working from home, virtual meetings is the way to go to cut cost. His skill set as a raid leader translated very well with remote project management and is now the manager of the hiring managers that laughed at his resume.

This was at a Fortune 500 financial company

TL:DR If you stand in the fire, I’m not healing your a*s.


Image source: darthnut, Matteo Petralli

I received a resume from an applicant that included a letter of recommendation from his cat. The letter was hilarious and signed with a clipart paw print. I thought it was great and wanted to bring him in, but the manager for the position wasn’t as crazy about it. I guess the point is, humor in an application can work for you, but it really depends on the person.


Image source: anon, Victor Freitas

A guy put his bench, squat and deadlift numbers in his personal skills section for a bar job.

It spawned a long tradition of asking bartenders what they could bench when they applied for a job.


Image source: OkButHurry, Ketut Subiyanto

Guy submitted a resume claiming to be a ‘ghost writer’ for a local college.

In lieu of a college degree, he listed the units he wrote assignments for and the average grades his clients got.


Recruiter here. I have a few:

* Resume – “hire me lol”
* Video interview with another candidate, she was in a hospital bed and just gave birth to her son prior to her interview. HIRED
* Another video interview, the guy was chugging a tall boy Coors Lights…

Edit: Just to add little to the second story, she was looking for additional income for her move. It was a part-time, temporary job with very easy work. She was a very bubbly person.

Image source: samsamich


not a hiring manager, but I was working at a job and my roommate wanted to apply. on the application he wrote “can make 3 minute ramen in 2:50”

he got the interview

Image source: jinxed_jukebox


We used to do this, we would reject on a faux pas. Then we realized we were chewing through good candidates who didn’t have the money to use a professional writing service. If we are hiring for a developmental role (someone we expect needs to grow) then we shouldn’t hold them to the standard we would expect *after* they have developed. We decided to start picking resume’s for experience we think we want and ignore minor mistakes or odd formatting choices. We have even re-interviewed people who we think just had an ‘off’ day. Now, we have to do this because qualified candidates for our positions are fairly rare so we have to be a little more flexible.

Image source: Leucippus1


In response to our posting for a software developer:

• 22 years experience as full-stack web developer
• BA in Organizational Management
• Spent too much time on the computer during childhood

He was hired within the week.

Image source: RotundSquirrel


Image source: zenaide1, kikea3

It was 14 pages…

ETA: finance position with 5-10 years experience. There’s only so many different ways you can describe finance responsibilities – and summarizing is a skill. Dude never pitched for the interview.


I work at an Escape Room. We once received a resume that consisted in a webpage address protected by a password, and three well-crafted riddles that we had to solve to get the password. We spent an hour doing it with two colleagues, and it included decrypting a code from a specific frame of Zodiac by David Fincher. It was simply amazing.

Sadly, we weren’t hiring at the time, and she had found another job we we started hiring again.

EDIT: David Fincher, not Lynch. My bad.

EDIT 2: since I’m receiving a lot of answers including pieces of advice on what we should have done, here’s some important precisions:

* No, we couldn’t have hired her on the whim. You can’t create work from nothing in Escape Rooms. We have 6 rooms, we need 1 Game Master per room when it’s running, that’s all. Our building is full, we can’t add other rooms, so we don’t need to hire until someone leaves.

* No, we won’t fire someone to hire that person. First, because we’re living in a civilized country that doesn’t allow people to get fired without any reason. Second, because firing someone that way isn’t how you keep people motivated and invested, and our boss knows that.

* The fact that she knew how to create riddles doesn’t mean she would have made a great hire anyway. We’re already 13, and we **all** know how to make riddles, that’s part of the job. We also all have other skills that contribute to that job. What made her application special is the way she made it, reflecting her motivation, not her skills per se.

* No, we shouldn’t have hired her to design a room. First, because we didn’t have any room to design, our building was full, and it was more than a year until we needed to create a room. Second, because we already have designers (remember, we’re 13, plus the bosses, and we all have the skills she had). Third, because designing a room is a 3-4 weeks jobs, not a full-time one. Fourth, because it requires other skills than simply “creating riddles”, and neither you and I know if she had them. Fifth, because you simply doesn’t hire a newbie to design your next $20.000-$30.000 room that will be 1/6th of your company revenue for the next 3 to 6 years, that’s absolutely nonsensical.

* To the people saying we’re idiots for not having hired her: you know nothing.

Image source: Maximelene


Image source: Im_dad_serious, Karolina Grabowska

Not a hiring manager but I once wrote stuff like ‘able to plug in USB on first try’ and ‘can do up to 10 push-up before going into sleep mode’ in the Additional Skills section. They later told me I was invited because they wanted to see if I really can do the first one.


Image source: Canadian_Neckbeard, Erik Mclean

Had a kid applying to work at a Sam Goody as a stockboy write that he was a petroleum transference engineer for Exxon at his last job. His job was pumping gas, I hired him on the spot.


Image source: Nichinungas, Pressmaster

“I would like to work at your factory”
I don’t have a factory. Read the f*****g job description.


I had a candidate who worked in couseling in the past, mostly with kids who had been through trauma. They had a line on their resume that said:

“Expert in child kidnapping”

I had to at least give them an interview because I understood the intent but the wording was just hilariously unfortunate.

Edit: For those seeking clarity, he was an expert in kidnapping *cases*.

No, he didn’t get the job. Nice guy, but not a good fit for the role. :)

Image source: Leiawen


Image source: jaynus006, YuriArcursPeopleimages

Bad emails. When interviewing for a professional position and your contact email is 69SMOKAHGURL420BLAZING it a terrible way to start the resume.


Image source: 4sOfCors, jm_video

“I have incredible attention to dealtail”

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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hiring manager tips, job, recruiter tips, resume do's and don't's, resume tips, resume writing, work
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