This is why your resume was rejected

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I stumbled across a very interesting infographic today that I had to share. It details reasons why resumes (commonly known as CVs overseas) are rejected. As I reviewed it, I speculated how closely it mirrored the attitude of recruiters here in the good ol’ USA. My guess is that their reasons for rejecting a resume is pretty similar to ours.

Check out a few of their reasons:

  • 1 Typo on your resume and you are rejected
  • Applications are received within the first 200 seconds of posting a job. (Was yours among them?)
  • 1 in 3 Employers reject you due to something they found online. (I gave a presentation on this recently. This is sooo true here in the USA.)

Check out the rest of the stats below. And, I would LOVE to hear from my recruiter pals. What do you think of these stats?

This is why your resume was rejected

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181 comments

    • Tor

      Because photos are entirely irrelevant to the job requirement and I think it comes off as artsy and unprofessional.

      • Volker Janssen

        Ho Tor, that might be the case in your place, the US or Australia. But in places like central Europe, an image of yourself is essential. In fact, your application might be rejected because of a missing image of yourself – other countries, other cultures.

        • Justin

          Indeed. And most of Asia. The US is the main one that doesn’t want a picture. Australia and UK sometimes do.

        • Alan

          Requiring a Photo allows them to segregate older people and only coose the young kids. This should be illegal. It’s the same when applying on-line on some of the company web-sites in the USA. While they do not require a photo – many of them require your Birthdate and Social Sercurity Number – saying that it is some Government requirement and that they won’t be used when viewing your application. Yeah, like I believe that. LOL.

      • Sue Fitzpatrick

        Actually, I have had recruitment firms encourage me to make a video resume…seems like a very slippery slope an easy way to discriminate across a wide variety of demographic, once you make a public video image of yourself. I don’t want anything that can and will be used against me. I agree that the photo is not a good idea, but for totally different reasons

        • Jean-Baptiste Collinet

          About videos: do you know the website Sonru? When applying for an Apple iOS advisor position, the first thing I did was to reply to questions in front of a webcam! It was required.

      • Stephen

        Quite a narrow minded opinion. And I stress opinion. What if you look 15 years younger than your years of experience. A photo is a deterrent to rampant age discrimination in such a situation. In Asia photos are a must. Artsy you say? Such mindless claptrap.

      • Steve Broadhead

        The photo on the CV can be a double edged sword. Yes, you are trying to use your Age (if younger), possible good looks and perhaps clothing style to leverage your chances. Unprofessional? Maybe.
        It’s common knowledge that cute babies receive more attention, good looking kids are accepted more in school and last but not least; good looking employees who work as well as their less aesthetically pleasing colleagues, will most likely get that promotion.
        Natural selection in the CV arena can very well be skewed by a well chosen photo. So perhaps leaving that CV photo out could give the “rest of us” an equal chance ;)

    • Brady

      Applicants can potentially sue for (age,gender,race,etc.) descrimination if an employer does not interview an individual who has a picture on their CV. For this reason, many employers will not even look at a CV if the applicant’s picture is on it.

    • David

      I also think it has a lot to do with presentation. ie I’ve seen a lot of resume’s with a photo of people in shaggy clothes, hair not done, and looking as miserable as if they were being hauled off to prison. So in a way I think that is an unfair statistic. It should be more like “X% of people don’t get the job based on presentation”. That would probably be truer.

    • Martin R

      This issue only shows, how different countries deal with CVs!
      In Germany any CV without a photo (passport size) goes straight into the bin. Guess recruiters in America and Australia want to avoid lawsuits for unfair treatment if cvs containing photos are rejected!?

  1. May

    For me I rejected ones with photos because it’s a common practice in other countries, but is not common here. Including one (unless of course I was hiring ‘talent’.. which I wasn’t) was a signal to me that you were from another country and didn’t understand our customs… which I know is a SILLY reason for putting someone in one pile or another.. but when I had to get 500 resumes down to 50 that I could actually have time to read… it was just one of many methods I employed.
    OH.. and I would never google/facebook someone unless they’d already made the top 25. No time.

      • Michael

        No… it shows how human he is. And thats the point: ypu need to grab the atention of the emotionsl, irrational human reading it. So if the chances are that that petson has a cultural bias for or against photos then act accordingly.

  2. Ben

    I think this can be misleading – on the initial rounds of scanning through resumes, the 5-7 s time factor is the most important. Nobody has time to look for spelling mistakes, weird email addresses, or anything online. it’s just quick cues; do they have any background that’s interesting (minimal training needed), are they coming from a reliable place, anything big that stands out. that’s it – don’t care about any details, and barely read the cover letter. So, keep it simple – make the important information stand out, because nobody has the time to look for it.

  3. chris

    This just shows me how clueless the recruiting industry is. I only have to look at some of the people I’ve had to work with over the years to see that. One can only wonder how many excellent candidates end up in the bin because they don’t have a “professional” email address or made a spellong mistak on there resome.

    • Kyle Lyles

      +1 (and assuming that your spelling mistakes are a touch of irony…..)
      99.9999% of recruiters are useless. A good one is worth their weight in gold and nearly impossible to find.

    • Brady

      If you can not make time to remove spelling/grammar errors from a short CV, or if you do not have two minutes to create a FREE email that sounds more professional, how can you be expected to take the time to do that in your professional work? Business demands professionalism and competence. It takes five minutes to make basic changes like an email address that can get you in the right pile on the recruiters desk. If you are not willing to take that time, I am not willing to take the time to consider your CV. Not enough time in one lifetime to consider everyone equally.

  4. Michael Walker

    This is disgusting! Hard won qualifications and experience effectively ignored and careers decided by a 5-7 second glance at superficial criteria! How can you possibly assess anyone in that time? This industry is a sham!

    • Sue

      Basically, those who have education and documented experience have already indicated themselves to be too old and over the hill to HR managers who are, by and large, the age of some of our children….their experiences in evaluating human potential and contribution come from books and lecture halls, charts and graphs, rather than real life experience. The polite excuses is that we are too entrenched and don’t adapt to change and technology….how reading a resume for less than 10 seconds conveys all that is beyond my ability to understand unless the HR Managers are channellng the Great Karnak

      • Khaled McGonnell

        “The polit excuses are” – that’s old school rules. SPAG is a huge indicator of competence to me. A given vacancy is unlikely to attract both Nobel laureates and a kid straight out of grade school. When you’re applying for a job it’s likely that the skills and experience amongst the candidate pool are largely comparable. Faced with typically 50 to 100 applications for any given vacancy, recruiters are forced to use somewhat arbitrary – but fair – rules to quickly filter out the weaker candidates. If you’ve got SPAG problems in a document that you have had the opportunity to perfect then surely you’ll be prone to SPAG problems when you’re working to deadlines.

        • Kevin M. Thomas

          Ahem. When correcting a SPAG error, it’s usually best to avoid committing a SPAG error oneself. “polit” should be “polite”.

      • Brady

        A CV does not get you a job, only an interview. The interview is where all qualifications should be considered. The purpose of a CV has never been to get a job. It is only a snapshot. It should not narrow down based on all qualifications. Only those that are the most obvious.

    • Tim

      I so agree. The recruitment industry is a completely different animal. Very few can stabd up and say they are professional. I am currently looking fir a position. I am 41 with years of experience and high achievement. I have to deal with 23 year olds who have no life expreience and minimal business experience sitting there treating me like a rookie. They can not answer questions dont really know the brief and simply want bums on seats. They think they have an exclusive listing but really they are of many listing same job, they dont know business terminologjy and are quite frankly a joke

      • Christopher

        23 year olds who spent time at university learning to write a cohesive sentence. It is all about first impressions, if you cannot be bothered to proof read a CV for spelling mistakes then what pride will you take in your work? Who says a 23 yr old has no clue about business… I started my first at 18 and it was a success. Being 41 and not knowing how to type or spell or structure a sentence is probably why you feel threatened by generation Y telling you that you are not good enough for a job.

        • Lisa

          You are saying that as the straight man for the comedic set up, right? If not this 47 year old has lost all faith in the heavily-educated inexperienced gen x y z double d jet set.

    • MG

      This gets worse when you are applying to or trying to get your foot in the door with any of the larger US-based companies, which now use online applications and software tools to pre-screen candidates. No matter how wonderful one’s qualifications, not matter how brilliant one’s resume, if the right keywords for that company’s position are not found, you are screened out, and count yourself lucky if you get an electronic rejection letter.

      Networking and contracting seem to be the only decent ways to get a job these days.

  5. Matthew Jones

    None of these statistics surprise me at all. You must keep in mind that no one employer follows all of these “rules” together. A smaller firm will spend more time on a resume’ and cover letter, while larger HR departments must eliminate candidates more quickly. I applied online for a government job that was only posted for 24 hours, 2200 applications received, 42 of us got interviewed, and only 14 got hired. I must have done something right to end up in the 98th percentile. If you can’t double and triple check the spelling on a 1 or 2 page resume’, I wouldn’t hire you either.

  6. Syed Jaffery

    Interesting article with great stats, Internationally Educated professionals should always remember to be mindful of not to make these mistakes… if they intend to get into a Canadian job market.

    • Sam

      In America inclusion of a picture is problematic because a candidate could claim they were weeded out because of discrimination against them. When I’m reviewing resumes, I do not want to know if the candidate is in a protected class.

  7. John

    Everyone with an opinion will give you a different story of what is required, desired, or taboo. One person says always include a cover letter, others (like this article) say they are never read. I do agree with having a resume that is spelling-error free, but wonder how perfectly these hiring managers perform their duties to the point of being so judgemental. Just makes me glad I’m on the back nine of life.

    • Steve Whitford

      Be careful on the back 9. That is where some of the trickiest holes are planted. I never thought I would be back in the job market, but at 61, with no warning, here I am.

    • Sue

      And how many editions and updates have been done on “What Color Is Your Parachute”….You can find books and articles that will justify just about any practice or format, just as you will find those that condemn the same. It is all about how you want to be perceived. I remember the classic scene in legally blond where the stationary was pink and scented, and while it engendered some ridicule, it also got noticed. In the end, you make a personal decision and then revise it as you go along. If you aren’t getting any interviews, time to revisit and tweak things a bit. I have so many resume formats that I often have to open several to figure out which one to use.

  8. Amanda

    Many American companies are utilizing software to scan resumes for key words. The 5-7 seconds doesn’t shock me because a computer program is doing the majority of the work.

  9. alizardx

    When I’m ready to hire, I plan to spend some time reading articles here first. Mainly to find out what corporate HR does that a person looking for people capable of original thinking should AVOID.

    • Sue

      Hate to disappoint you, but the goal of public education is not, and has not been for quite some time, critical and evaluative thinking. It has become an indoctrination into political correct speak. History books have been rewritten, lest the past offend an individual or group. And thanks to a world of Twitter and Texting, the English language has taken a pounding. Most people cannot spell or follow simple grammar rules. I personally refuse to learn another foreign language in order to be able to “tweet”. Spellcheck will let you know if a word is spelled correctly, but not if it is the correct word for the context….Deer John is perfectly acceptable under spell check.

      • John Devaney

        Sue,
        Can they (school children) still read Mark Twain’s (S.C) “Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn”?

        Have they included the real history yet on the decimation of the Native Americans?

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  11. Kevin

    My take is bit different that what I’ve read so far:
    As candidates, we can only manage what is within the realm of our control:
    - Make sure your resume is solid, error free and you have explanation about employment gaps.
    - That you always include a cover letter ( a short one that does not repeat what’s in the resume) but rather have a “punch line” that may give you an edge over the competition
    - That you always use care and be diligent when applying for any position.
    - That you be ready to follow-up, answer questions and provide convincing clarifications about your background and education
    - If you have written recommendations, make sure you attach them to your application
    - Make sure you have your references lined up and ready to support the claims you made in your application.
    - Research the potential employer and learn as much about the firm as possible, including but not limited to individuals within your extended network who can make an introduction to the HR or any other employee who can personally introduce your credentials to the potential employer.
    - ….there are many areas of the application process that are within your own control and which you can certainly influence. However, there are many other areas that are out of your control!

    • Beckie

      I agree 100% that certain things are out of our control! I know the job market is tough right now; I actually took one of my college degrees off of my résumé because I’m tired of being told I’m “over qualified”. My resume does not include a photo or misspellings. It’s just a reflection of a hard working person who is looking for a job!

      • Sue

        Careful, I didn’t include my post secondary education in an application for a job, and was told in the initial telephone interview that they do extensive background checks. Any omission can be considered as falsifying the resume and could be considered grounds for dismissal, even if discovered after hiring. Some companies just don’t want those with college education due to the notion that these people are transient and will jump at any opportunity offered with higher salary. In today’s job market, any sane person would entertain a better financial offer, regardless of whether they have college education or not. Wanting to be paid fairly for your experience, efforts, and contributions are not the sole province of those with post secondary education.

    • AggieCat

      It seems like many folks here aren’t familiar with how the process actually works and I can speak as a hiring manager and as a recently hired employee. In a large organization, the very first pass is looking at applications forms or resumes for the required job credentials only. Anything that was in the required section needs to be explicitly spelled out in your resume, and make sure you clearly indicate the amount of time and that it equals or exceeds the required or preferred experience. This is typically happening at HR and they are not looking for nuances of skill or critical thinking – they are weeding out the meets from the does not meet. A lot of the time this is happening automatically via computer or by a HR front line evaluator.

      If a computer is doing it then an error is fatal – your application will not be passed on to the next steps. If it’s a person, it may still be fatal if it effectively looks like you don’t meet the minimums. The HR staff may or may be responsible for grading the resumes and apps based on a hiring matrix. these are literally a matrix, a charts that assigns numeric values and weights to each part of the application/job descriptions. so each resume will end up with a weighted score/rank based on how well the meet the matrix values. Is education, certification or experience most important? Is it experience in the industry or would longer history but, non-industry experience be better.

      Keep in mind the appplication and resume package hasn’t even made it to the hiring manager yet, it’s still in HR.Depending on how HR works and the instructions they have been given, they may then review the baseline group and eliminate anyone who doesn’t have the preferred qualifications, or they may not if that pool is too small. What is left is sent to the hiring manager who then goes through and tries to wedk that group down. They may use a whole host of different criterion to try and determine who it is worthwhile to interview. The candidate with the preferred qualifications may have a sketchy job history, the one with the rock solid job history may not have that one really nice, but not essential skill. Do they show signs of being able to learn it? Does their resume reflect a willingness to be flexible?

      This is when that cover letter become important. It should NOT be a recap of your app and resume, it should expand on them, fill in any blanks, highlight key personality features, like that you actively pursue professional development opportunities to learn new skills. You get the picture? And, of course, all of this must be absolutely, spot on correct in both grammar and spelling. There are probably a dozen people with very similar skills and abilities, you do NOT want the only difference between you to be your inability to spell correctly or proofread your work.

      Finally, let’s address those first 200 apps. If, within the first 15 minutes of a job posting you apply what does that tell me about you? did you take the time to really read about the position. Did you stop and research the company, the industry, the market? Responding that fast reads to an HR tech like this: I don’t currently have a job (an unfair hit but one, nevertheless), I’m applying to anything that comes along as soon as it comes along, I do not consider and reflect before I act, I am applying a lots of job and will go to the highest bidder, so even interviewing me is likely to be time wasted, I am desperate.

      The hiring process costs companies money, a lot of it. Don’t make them spend more on you that is absolutely necessary. You want to see that money spent on your salary, not working harder than necessary to get you hired.

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  13. Dr. anadil

    seriously u guys have better reasons of rejections, at least they tell u if u r rejected, pic, e-mail id, watever reason they give is better that the practice here , u never get a reply if its a NO, and u just keep waiting and surrender if u dont get an answer. no1 checks ur cv, they will read it if u got the interview, and they would hire their ppl, friends, connections, and there might be a job that suddenly u hear they hired some1 and not even the hr is aware when did he submit cv or got an interview. i hope ppl learn the meaning of being fair and hire ppl based on qualifications not recommendations and connections.

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  15. Dave

    If you honestly think that coldly applying to job postings is how people land the best jobs out there, you’re sadly mistaken. Stop blaming recruiters and take a deep look at your own personaly networking skills. Top talent gets “recruited.”

    • David

      Agree with this wholeheartedly. Who you know is what’s most important. Every job I’ve had since graduation has been a result of who I know, my reputation, and shared circles.

      For any students out there looking for their first job post-grad, find out who has graduated from your program / school and see if they’re hiring. It’s an easy way to network and you have a shared experience. I’ve often used this tactic and being able to compare notes on particular classes or professors with the person doing the hiring is a great way to be remembered!

  16. Saima

    I wonder how exactly they can catch the grammatical error if they are only looking at it for 5 -7 seconds. They must be superhuman recruiters, beware average people looking for employment!

    • Brady

      Errors jump off the page for people who are really good at spelling and grammar. Someone already involved in a professional environment will typically have no problem finding any errors before they have even read a word of the CV.

    • Kyle Lyles

      I agree with your British slang use, you are correct.

      As I pointed out above, using American slang, they are also very shitty.

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  18. Gregg

    If this article were the author’s résumé, he/she would not be hired by any of those recruiters who followed point #1. There are multiple errors, including using a singular verb with a plural subject (“…their reasons for rejecting a resume is…”), and lack of an apostrophe where needed (Hint: Whose lounge is it?). One big one is that the word is “résumé” with accent marks, and HTML on a web site can be set to show it. I am not sure if it will show in my reply, so don’t beat me up if the accent marks do not appear…it’s not my blog.

  19. Imran

    This was very interesting and I was amazed how employment process works. Companies receive so many applications and its very hard for them to go through all the applications as their are high volumes of application to select.

  20. BK

    Start your own company and ignore all this BS or find a company with 25 employees or less.

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  22. Recruiter

    Nope to number 1 and number 3. Almost every resume has a typo somewhere and I don’t believe that makes the candidate useless. Also, we don’t FB stalk our candidates. For number 2, sometimes we have a huge influx right after we post, but all that means is getting to each one is going to take time. We usually keep our posts open for a couple weeks or even months regardless to find just the right person. Maybe I’m the only recruiter on earth who works this way – but I doubt it! Recruiters get a terrible wrap. Some of them should, some of them shouldn’t.

  23. Mark

    Great stats and infographic!

    However, a bit ironic that the infographic has one glaring (and repeated) typo: “CV’s” should simply be “CVs” – not possessive.

    Otherwise, just great!

  24. John macLeod

    I would reject a CV from you because you think CVs in the plural should have an apostrophe!

  25. Jude

    Being a 42 year old professional in Perth Australia, I haven’t had the need or patience to deal with the GenY recrtuitment agents for at least 5 years. Sourcing my next role is all about word of mouth. Perth in particular, once you have established yourself in your chosen field, does not neccessitate the need for recruiters. They are ok of just starting out.As long as you have done an excellent job in your previous places ofof employment, not burned bridges, established a strong network of contacts (eg via LinkedIn), then there is little need to even waste your time with recruiters. A strong, succinct resume that can be verified though is still a must.

  26. Minnie

    I’ve seen quite a few foreign resumes where the English, grammar and spelling were horrendous and those people still got jobs. Employers know they are willing to take less money so they overlook that. At least that seems to be true here in the US. Now if an American made the same mistake, that resume probably would be tossed. There is definitely a double standard. But this article didn’t even cover the real reason most resumes are rejected. That is because many employers use software to “read” the resumes rather than a person. They are looking for certain keywords and if you don’t have those in there, it won’t even be pulled for consideration. Doesn’t matter how well you’ve written your resume, your cover letter or how much experience you have. Don’t have the right buzz words and you are toast.

  27. Niranjan

    Not sure how many people from India are reading this article and the e-mail threads, but would love to get an Indian perspective. Whenever I saw a professional photo on a resume, I would read through it a little more carefully before deciding. (And I am not recruiter).

  28. Paddy

    Quite intesting from a freelance point of view, especially the recruiters who are backing this regarding the grammar and spelling mistakes. I receive an annoying email from one particular agency every week which is inundated with spelling mistakes trying to find out if I’m available for ‘jobs’ that supposedly exist…. I enjoy sticking that email in the trash can or ‘bin’ as we call it here within 5-7 seconds.

  29. Hayley S.

    If I were a recruiter, I would have a hard time accepting a resume from someone who makes words possessive when they should just be plural! CV’s???

  30. Edward Reesor

    I would like to hear your comments on the placement of degrees received versus professional designation in name suffixes. I have read comments by human resource professionals where placing “MBA” after a name would be an immediate cause for rejection. On the other hand, in the North American healthcare industry there is a sense of professional designation simply by receiving a degree. For example, a BScN is a degree and does not automatically confer the professional designation of RN. As a personal example, I have a BSc, MBA and hold the professional license of Respiratory Therapist (RRT). I have found that what I place after my name depends on the industry where I have sought employment.
    Again, I would be interested in receiving your thoughts on this matter.

  31. Stylianos

    By the way the Luxembourg population is 537,000 (CIA Factbook, 2012-2013). I hope the rest of the factoids are precise, otherwise one more wasted infographic.

  32. Dotty

    Like most things recruitment, its a bunch of BS. I’m a recruiter and can say that most recruiters don’t need much to ding a resume, and typos is not one of them (that’s hiring managers who do that). If the HM isn’t calling the shots then its just an inexperienced stupid recruiter and god there are so many of those out there.

  33. Jake

    Having sat on a number of selection committees, the first thing I looked for was … Did the candidate have the required minimal qualifications? If determining that is hard to do…forget it, no one has the time nor the desire to wade through your cv to find what they are looking for. So make it clear up front that you have what we are looking for! The best resumes I have read start off saying “You are looking for someone who has A, B, and C skills. I have those skills as demonstrated by the following experiences.”
    As for typos, pics, etc it all counts toward making an impression…you want it to be a good one. Make sure someone else edits your cv and get a few critiques from real employers.

  34. Tricia Groom

    Sorry to seem naive – but is it good to apply in the first 200 seconds, or not good?

  35. jay

    I have been working for quite some time now, and two things have remained constant when I have been in search of a new position.

    1 there are good recruiters and bad recruiters. Be selective with whom you do business.

    2 good recruiters know how to get you in front of the hiring manager.

    Getting in front of the hiring manager is the goal of the entire process. Once you’re there you control your own destiny.

    The best recruiters I have worked with take the time to know the candidate. They also have well established relationships with hiring managers. It’s not just your reputation on the line in this case.

    Bottom line, I have been on both sides of the table, there is nothing more valuable than a good recruiter.

    A resume (sic) is important, however a good network, being sincere and honest with both the recruiter and the hiring manager will beat out the very best written resume every day.

    Just my $0.02 USD.

  36. Andrew Stanley

    This is all very well but the infographic uses an apostrophe to make CV plural. It is CVs not CV’s. How many recruiters are binning accurately punctuated CVs? I think we should be told.

  37. Raghu

    Usless Recruiters…they dont understand the technology…but thy screen the resumes…they dont actually know what is asked by the client…and they simply do a Control F and decide ….I feel resume should not be faked…rather than recruiters shud spend time to understand what is asked for ….and I dont understand why they dont reveal the client name…they are very much scared…Useless recruiters……useless..

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  41. Alan

    Actually, maybe it’s because I am older and have no need to be gabbing on FaceBook, Twitter, My Space, and other social media on the web – That I have never even gone on to these sites, and I for sure do not want to sign up for them. My reasons involve the fact that these companies and the Police and Government can go onto these sites to view what you have on there. Some innocent Hobby can be viewed the wrong way by someone else that has a difference of opinion.

  42. Alan

    Spelling Mistakes can be detrimental – Depending on the Type of Job you are applying for. If you are going to being mostly manual labor such as a Factory Job, Construction work, or Landscaping – then it probably doesn’t matter how many words you mis-spell. My problem with my Resume’ is having to try to put 30 Plus years worth of experience down on a limited amount of pages. The older jobs have experiences on them that may not be on the newer positions, so I do not want to eliminate them from my Resume’. Plus I have ran accross Recruiters who were exactly opposite. Some want to see more details and some want to see minimal. I have my Resume’ crammed into 2 pages. This means a lot of small font size. I try to Hi-Light certain sections and Words with Bold and with slightly larger Font size. As a result they show up as errors when using an automatic computerized spell-checker. I have had Recruiters comment on my Resume’ saying that it was loladed with errors. I tell them my Resume’ was Designed that way. My areas of expertise are: Operations Management, Plant Management, Quality Assurance Management, Procurement/Purchasing, Program/Project Management, and HR Management. One of my big problems is trying to find a new position in NE Ohio, as most recruiters have jobs that require relocation.

  43. Gary

    My conclusions regarding try to find employment:
    The job search is very complex.
    It’s who you know, not what you know. Or it’s who you know that will allow you to make use of what you know.

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