Is Your File Name Lazy? Subtle (And Thoughtless) Resume Mistakes

You have one page to sum up your professional life and stand out to a stranger. Be thoughtful.

A resume is a short and precious thing: one page of text for six seconds of review.

As the hummingbird attention span suggests, the recruiter glancing at your resume will trash it at the slightest provocation—and you would too, if you had hundreds or thousands of CVs to churn through.

So, then, dear job-hunter, you would do well to embolden your text where appropriate and restrain yourself when necessary. This will make your recruiters' job easier—and the chance that you land the job higher.

If you think of your resume as a crisp leaf of graciousness, you may be brought in to the fold. Unless, as David Mielach at BusinessNewsDaily notes, you commit the following offenses.

Too small a font

Think about the user experience of your resume: If you squish your font down to size 8.5, your reader is going to loathe you for your squint-inducing text. Like career services expert Michelle Riklan says, a 10-point font is the minimum, and 12 is much better.

Using a wrong tense

You're in for a passive present if you can't get your past perfect. Executive recruiter Rachel Bass gets frustrated when people list former responsibilities in the present tense—if you're no longer at a given gig, she says, your resume needs to reflect that.

Picking a lazy file name

If you're emailing or uploading your resume, be mindful of the file name. The person doing the clicking probably doesn't know what a stunningly unique snowflake you are, meaning that all the signals they're getting about your personality, work ethic, and attention to detail are mediated electronically—it's the same reason your terse emails offend people or you text like thissss.

Designer Pete Juratovic has a word of advice: He says that candidates often send resumes titled "Resume2013" or "revision5résumé." This makes you look clueless to how other people experience your work. Instead, help them out: re-title that file to your first and last name.

Don't leave the picture incomplete

Want to place your resume in the don't consider pile? Then leave off details like the starting and ending positions for your gigs. Human resources consultant Arlene Vernon says employers want to see "employment continuity, tenure, and commitment"—so be sure to include the tangibles to flesh those intangibles out.

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[Image: Flickr user Ryan Berry]

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  • Fragile Haze

    The font size advice makes me cringe. Font size depends on the font being used, and for the overwhelming majority of fonts, 12 points is gigantic. Does the author even know what 12 points looks like? Most importantly, if you're viewing resumes on screen, you can easily zoom in. All increasing the font size accomplishes is making your resume long and unwieldy. If you're applying for a job as a graphic designer, it's a kiss of death.

  • JPBofOhio

    Since 99.9% of job applicants are not in Graphic Art, a basic 12-point font is important.  A fairly basic font is very important because you want to draw attention to what you have written, not how cartoonish you can make your resume.  Most resumes are actually printed out for review and mark-ups so it cannot be "zoomed in" for easier reading.

  • Doris Appelbaum

    As a professional resume writer, I frequently write two-page resumes. The top third of the first page has enough "meat" to make the the employer/recruiter want to read further.

  • Saiah Henry


    It's important for the candidate to place themselves in a position to stand out from the pile of applications being reviewed. They have roughly 20 seconds to do this and need to think about how they will get this done.You have some good points here.. the candidate must also research the company they are applying too and be sure to include what I refer to as compatibility points.. More on compatibility points can be found here:

    Unless a Company specifies that they do not want Cover Letters.. the applicant should always include one and it would be wise to use the compatibility points concept.

    I thought that picking a lazy file name was an interesting point... we may look at it as nit-picking but in reality... when a recruiter is weeding through loads of applications... the file name may just have an impact on if its opened or not.

  • Jocelyn Aucoin

    Candidates have to play to their strengths. Recruiters will use anything to set a resume aside. "Not enough continuity." Well, some candidates just don't have continuity. Does that make them a lesser candidate? That would depend on the person hiring, I think, right? 

    As to the file name.. wow! We are really nit-picking now. Personally, I'd like to see a file name with a "2013" in there, alerting me to the fact that the candidate has a resume on hand that is up-to-date. 

    I guess the moral of the story here is we are looking for any reason to whittle down the stack. My advice would be to make sure it's the RIGHT reason. 

  • Scott Carasik

    The thing here is about how many "resume2013"s they have. My resume always has my first name, last name and resume in the file title. It's simple organizational skills.

  • Jocelyn Aucoin

    Yeah, the file should always have your name in it. Is that what we're discussing? Please tell me no. 

  • Scott Carasik

    That's exactly what this is discussing. People aren't putting their names in the files.