Here’s What Lindsay Mustain Has To Say on the Common Resume Mistakes Jobseekers Make

In her extensive career spanning over a decade, Lindsay Mustain has reviewed an astonishing number of resumes – she estimates it to be “literally a million.” With experience as a recruiter at both Amazon and Comcast, Mustain currently serves as the CEO of Talent Paradigm, a company specializing in career coaching and resume writing services.

Throughout her tenure, Mustain has encountered a myriad of errors made by job seekers. Among the most prevalent is the tendency to compose a mere list of general duties under each job title, such as stating “attended meetings with stakeholders.”

Mustain stresses the importance of providing concrete examples of accomplishments rather than generic tasks. For instance, detailing achievements like delivering 50 presentations monthly to C-suite executives showcases one’s value. “You need to talk about what you accomplished,” she emphasizes.

Nevertheless, Mustain has encountered some resumes that truly caught her off guard. She notes that resumes for junior roles often tend to be more creatively presented. Below are three of the most significant resume blunders she has observed, along with explanations of why they should be avoided.

“They chose their driver’s license photo”

Back in 2011, Mustain found herself at health insurance giant Premera Blue Cross, searching for the right fit for a member services representative position, or as she describes it, “somebody who works with contracts.”

Here's What Lindsay Mustain Has To Say on the Common Resume Mistakes Jobseekers Make
Avoid adding personal photos or stickers; maintain professionalism. (Credits: Resumonk)

At the top corner of one candidate’s resume, there was an unexpected addition – their picture. Mustain advises against this practice, stating, “Unless you’re a model or a real estate agent, I recommend you not put a photo on your resume.” For the vast majority of jobs, your appearance is irrelevant.

However, it wasn’t just any photo this candidate chose to include; it was their driver’s license photo. Mustain humorously remarks, “Which, I don’t think anybody looks good in their driver’s license photo.”

Ultimately, she views including a photo in your resume as “a questionable decision,” noting, “And you just disqualified yourself before you even had a chance.”

They put ‘a rose sticker’ on it

During the same period, Mustain was also in the process of hiring for a call center representative position at the same company. Among the resumes she received, one stood out with a couple of stickers adorning it.

Here's What Lindsay Mustain Has To Say on the Common Resume Mistakes Jobseekers Make
Resumes should highlight achievements, not distract with unconventional materials. (Credits: Zety)

Recalling the peculiar addition, she describes, “I remember it was the name and then right on either side, there was a little silver square with a flower on it.”

With a hint of incredulity, she adds, “I think I have a picture of it somewhere because I just couldn’t believe that you would freshly print out your resume, you’re like, ‘you know what this is really missing? A rose sticker.'”

Mustain emphasizes that resumes are intended to be straightforward, professional representations of one’s career. Adding embellishments like stickers can detract from your credibility as a candidate.

They used ‘Elle Woods scented, colored paper’

In the early stages of her career, while hiring for another entry-level position, Mustain encountered a candidate who had opted for “Elle Woods scented, colored paper,” she recalls, alluding to the character from “Legally Blonde.”

The paper featured cloud motifs and emitted the fragrance of perfume. While Mustain acknowledges the value of printing resumes on high-quality paper to enhance the tactile experience, she firmly states, “But not that paper.”

Similar to the stickers, utilizing such materials can be perceived as unprofessional. Mustain emphasizes that it’s your career achievements that should make a lasting impression, not the whimsical designs or aroma of the paper.

“I wish that you could have a pink, glittery, sparkly resume and that would work,” she remarks, “but it just does not.”

Michael Manua
Michael Manua
Michael, a seasoned market news expert with 29 years of experience, offers unparalleled insights into financial markets. At 61, he has a track record of providing accurate, impactful analyses, making him a trusted voice in financial journalism.
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