Advice from Insiders

There are times when we just need a little insider input –– the stuff your best friend won’t tell you for fear of hurting your feelings. We’re not telling you this because we don’t love you. It’s because we love you that we have to tell you.

Recruiters’ Top 10 Resume Pet Peeves

  1. Spelling errors, typos and poor grammar
  2. Too duty-oriented
  3. Inaccurate dates or none at all
  4. Inaccurate or missing contact information
  5. Poor formatting
  6. Functional resumes (vs. chronological)
  7. Long resumes
  8. Long paragraphs
  9. Unqualified candidates
  10. Personal information unrelated to the job

What Recruiters Don’t Want You to Know:

  • Their job is to screen you out. Before someone gets hired, the pool of candidates has to be narrowed.
  • You’re not being hired; you’re being actively excluded from hire.
  • You’ll get screened out if you don’t follow directions. If asked for a writing sample, salary history, a completed application or provide references, comply with the requirements.
  • A computer is screening your resume before they ever see it. If you don’t meet minimum qualifications, you’ll get screened out.
  • Yes, there are actually secret hiring criteria at times. No one will admit to this, but when there are several candidates equally matched, something else comes into play. Sure, it’s illegal to discriminate, but unconscious discrimination takes place all the time. Hiring teams do it when they select the candidate who is most like them, has a certain image, or fits some other unspoken criteria.
  • If you don’t get an offer, they probably won’t tell you what you did wrong. There’s just too much liability in sharing this type of information. You can ask for feedback, but just know that you’ll probably get the “there was just someone more qualified than you” answer.
  • When phone screening, recruiters are looking for any sign of negativity. That is, anything unflattering about yourself.
  • Wondering what makes or breaks a candidate’s hiring potential? From a survey of hiring managers, here’s what they look for to help distinguish candidates:
  • Ability and suitability
  • Motivation
  • Manageability and teamwork
  • Professional behavior
  • Everyone hires for the same job – solving problems.

Objective statements can be irritating, particularly dumb ones like, “I want to learn, grow, develop, etc.” People need to understand that a resume should tell what you can do for an organization, not what the organization can do for you.

Don’t be confused by the term “recruiter.” A recruiter can work for a company (in-house recruiter) or as a hired “headhunter” who is searching, on behalf of a company, for specific candidates for specific positions. Don’t assume that you can outsource your job search to a recruiter. As a matter of fact, unless you’re in highly specialized field or possess specific, hard-to-find expertise, a headhunter probably won’t be looking for you. There’s just not an easy way to avoid the job search!

Hiring Secrets

Career Changes

Ever wonder what goes through the minds of HR professionals when asked for advice on making a career change? We asked Debbie Faulkner ’84, vice president of human resources at for her thoughts. Over the years, she has come across this situation many times. Here’s her advice:

If you’re trying to make a pretty radical career change, you’ll have to use your personal networks. A well-crafted cover letter just won’t work to get you noticed.

Start with asking yourself two questions:

  1. How much time do you have to find something new? The greater the departure from your most recent professional experience, the longer it will take.
  2. How much of a pay cut can you afford to take? Be honest with yourself. If you are expecting a lateral move to a new position that’s beyond entry level you will be very challenged to find something. If a company is going to take a chance on you, it is going to be at the bottom of whatever pay scale they have for that position.

Next, break down the change into key areas:

Degree of Change

How radical of a departure is this for you? A modest change will take less time and may be accomplished with a well-written cover letter. One example would be going from a very precise job in a big place (in charge of buying one type of component) to something more general (buying a wide range of components) at a smaller place. Another example would be wearing many different “hats” in your current role and wanting to have a more precise job at a bigger place — wearing only one of the hats. This is an easier transition if you’ve done a bit of the role that you aspire to.

Economic Environment

What are the current economic changes? Right now, if you’re in the mortgage industry, it is going to take quite a while to “re-tool” because so many others in the field are also looking. The good news is you can make a very compelling case for why you are changing careers. If you aren’t part of a temporary flood it will be easier to get noticed.

Industry Box

Are you coming from an industry where it’s easy to get “stuck” or pigeon-holed? I’m thinking about working at a brick-and-mortar retail store (like a manager at Target) or selling real estate. The candidate will likely have a more challenging time breaking out of these types of industries.


What can education do for you and what can it not do? Understand this as it relates to any new career before making a move. Where I can see it helping is with professional certificate programs in things like project management or technical courses for computer professionals. Getting an MBA will help if you want to get into marketing, but look before you leap — it’s expensive and will take two years.

Volunteer Work

How can volunteer work help? Perhaps writing a marketing plan for a nonprofit if you want to re-direct your career into marketing. Create work products that you can show potential employers.


Get a mentor (not coach) before you leave your previous position. Start planning at least six months prior to starting your active job search.

Career Stage

Look at where you are in your career. Radical job changes are best made before investing 10 years in a career or single employer.

Same Employer/New Exposure

It is by far easier to move into a completely new field within a single employer than looking outside. Figure out if you can get that title you really want with a larger employer in your area. Maybe move to this employer within your current vocation and move laterally later –– just don’t mention this during an interview!
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Alumni and Parent Engagement

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