Ex-Nvidia recruiter's No. 1 resume red flag: It makes you look like ‘there wasn't a whole lot of effort'

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When you apply for a job and send in your resume, it has to pop immediately.

"A resume is showcasing you in a 10-to-60-second format on paper," says former Google and Nvidia recruiter and current HR consultant Stefanie Fackrell, who's looked at "thousands" of resumes.

Telling a compelling story and being as clear and concise as possible "is what's going to win you in a sea" of other candidates, she says. This includes listing powerful accomplishments and keeping the resume to one-to-two pages, depending on the length of your career.

There are also some red flags Fackrell advises people to avoid. Here are three.

A list of your day-to-day duties

To begin with, avoid listing your daily to-do list under each title.

"Where a lot of people make mistakes on their resume is they're listing out their daily job duties," she says. Instead, your resume "should be a list of your accomplishments, mixed in with some job duties."

Recruiters don't need to see that you wrote emails and coordinated meetings. They need to see that you completed critical projects, brought in revenue and generally helped the company grow.

Listing out job duties alone not only leaves hiring mangers wondering how you contributed, it makes them think "there wasn't a whole lot of effort put into" writing the resume, says Fackrell. To a recruiter, that doesn't bode well for the kind of effort you'd put into the job itself.

Colorful fonts, charts and graphs

Another red flag is a colorful resume with all sorts of graphics.

"When I used to work at Google, people would always submit artistic resumes with charts and the Google colors," she says. Instead of writing one list of titles and accomplishments spanning the width of the page, they'd split their resume up into columns and quadrants.

Using a simple, straightforward format lets your accomplishments speak for themselves — by creating these colorful resumes, "you're just being a little gimmicky," says Fackrell. Some of these resumes are also "not easily readable," which makes your qualifications harder to discern.

When it comes to how to format your resume, "make it boring," she says, adding, "no colors, no charts, no graphs, no pictures."

Only listing years of employment

One final element Fackrell notices on a resume is how dates are presented.

When listing the duration of employment in a given role, some people only list years. Someone might say they were at a company from 2021 to 2022, but "December 2021 to January 2022 is a lot different than January 2021 to December 2022, right?" she says.

This won't necessarily be a red flag, but it will give recruiters pause and make them think, "what are they trying to get away with?" Fackrell says. She recommends using month and year every time.

Some internal application systems also require a candidate to list both their month and years of employment with former companies. In those cases, an applicant won't be able to get away with leaving that information out of their resume. A recruiter will just go into the system and pull it out.

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