HR Strange But True!
April 26, 2007

The experts agree on at least one of the keys to writing a résumé: keep it professional. These 12 examples prove that some applicants fail in that regard. While the blunders probably sank the candidate's chances, they were successful in making us laugh.

They come from a recent survey of 2,627 hiring managers and human resource professionals. Here are the most unusual blunders the respondents reported, with our commentary in italics. The résumé:

  1. Mentioned that the candidate spent summers on his family's yacht in Grand Cayman. Did he list it under experience or education?  
  2. Had a letter attached from the job seeker's mother. I love my daughter and so will you.  
  3. Was printed on pale blue paper with teddy bears around the border. How cute! 
  4. Explained a gap in employment by saying the applicant was getting over the death of his cat for three months. We love cats, but our bills probably would have kept the mourning period a little shorter.  
  5. Specified that the job seeker's availability was limited because Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was "drinking time." A real go-getter, that one.  
  6. Included a picture of candidate in a cheerleading uniform. She'd probably bring a lot of spirit to the job.  
  7. Had a hand-drawn picture of a car on the outside of the envelope and said it was the hiring manager's gift. We doubt the candidate took business ethics in college.  
  8. Mentioned the candidate's hobby of sitting on the levee at night watching alligators. Watching the Discovery Channel is so passé when it comes to hobbies.  
  9. Included the fact that applicant's sister once won a strawberry eating contest. Why should we hire you when your sister won the contest?  
  10. Explained that the applicant works well nude. Let's just hope he's a telecommuter.  
  11. Provided some context for an arrest by stating, "We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig." At least he was bringing home the bacon.  
  12. Included family medical history. Yes, we were relieved to find out there is no history of male pattern baldness in your family.

"Employers do appreciate creativity in job applicants because rooting through piles of résumés often times can be a monotonous task," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of HR at "However, the key is to balance that creativity with professionalism. You want to stand out as someone unique but also as someone with applicable experience who can add value to the company."

If you want to see more mistakes candidates make when applying for jobs, be sure to check out by the staffing firm Robert Half. The website has dozens of examples submitted by its clients. Here's our favorite:

Experience: "I have unsuccessfully raised a dog."


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