I will be interviewing more candidates early next week, since I asked this question here. In looking at resume today as the team lead, one candidate had very impressive background (CISSP, CRISC, and several years of experience at reputable firms), but the resume was in a non-standard format, and contains elements not commonly accepted in the United States, at least not in the InfoSec profession. Examples:

  1. Candidate photo
  2. Candidate birthdate
  3. Printed on colored stationary paper with background

If hired the candidate is expected to show discretion and good judgement. These characteristics are important for any job, but especially for the roles in InfoSec due to sensitive nature of these jobs. Presenting a professional image is important for a first interview and I felt the candidates resume presentation falls short of industry expectations. I admit that this candidate may come from a culture where such resume elements (e.g: photo and birth date) are common.

On one hand, I don't want to unnecessarily dismiss a qualified candidate by being prejudicial, but on the other hand, I do feel the resume was not presented as professionally as it could have been. My gut feeling is the resume is at least something to count against this candidate, but not eliminating from consideration outright.

How should I best assess this situation?

Is my belief that resume as described here is borderline unprofessional reasonable?

  • 3
    Why not discuss it with him as part of getting to know him? simple Q and see why he do that.
    – Sandra K
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 5:13
  • I think we miss some information : where the candidate come from ? In the security industry, is such CV a standard practive or is it specifical to America ? And did you check if he really has those Certifications ?
    – Walfrat
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 6:53
  • How long has this candidate been living and working in the United States? If I were you, I'd just email him and tell him the truth. His resume is impressive, but also completely inappropriate for the United States, he needs to figure out what's wrong with it, correct it, hopefully, get one of his American friends to look at it, and then submit it to your company again. Seeing the new version he comes up with would be interesting. However, those certifications, those are too easy to cheat on. braindumps.org/ISC/CISSP/CISSPbraindumps.htm You should double-check his domain knowledge. Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 7:12
  • 8
    The old dilemma. Make your resume standard and get overlooked or make it special and get rejected ...
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 8:32
  • 4
    The candidate may simply be from another culture. E.g. in Germany it's pretty much expected to provide a picture and date of birth. Although it's also in discussion here, if this is useful anymore.
    – Simon
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 10:12

6 Answers 6


I appreciate and sympathise with your concerns.. coloured paper for a resume? A background? Ugh.. so cringeworthy!

It makes me think that the candidate maybe got some of the relly bad "gimicky" advice a few years back about how to make your resume stand out. That said you are looking to hire someone to do an Infosec role - how well they understand the professional norms of getting hired isn't something that's really going to affect their day to day ability to do that role so I think:

My gut feeling is the resume is at least something to count against this candidate, but not eliminating from consideration outright.

Is probably correct - if their skills and experience are otherwise strong then unless you have a wealth of good candidates and are looking to cut the field down a bit I would just count it as a minor mark against them and make sure I focussed on checking out their judgement during any interview process but wouldn't just bin them outright.

  • 2
    Right - if you keep in mind that said candidate maybe only had to apply a few times in his life, and you rarely get honest feedback if rejected - it totally makes sense that he is not an expert in writing applications.
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 9:15
  • 4
    I suspect that his resume was last revised in the early 00's when gimmicky resumes were the thing. Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 13:29

I would give the candidate a chance to interview if I were you.

Your #3 concern is not an issue to me. Colored paper with background is probably not a good choice. But, it just reflects this candidate's mis-understanding of the professional world.

In my location, resume with personal photo is standard. Maybe the candidate is from a similar location as I am from. No big deal.

My real concern is the birthdate. It tells me that the candidate is not careful. And you're right, any infosec professional should not spread out this personal information. Again, this tell you that the candidate is probably not an InfoSec professional.

However, the candidate does have certificates, which shows that she/he has some of the necessary skills to do the job. For that, give them a chance for an interview. Check out if the candidate does have the necessary skills. If yes, see if the candidate's professional attitude is trainable. If yes, try the candidate, if no, throw the candidate out.

  • According to OP the CV show "several years at reputable firms". So he has professional experience and not only at one company (assuming the CV is authentic). They're some companies that like colored CV.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 6:57
  • @Walfrat Thanks for your comment. Point well taken. Edited the answer accordingly. Thanks again.
    – Nobody
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 7:04
  • Assuming this is not a TLA, being that obsessive about opsec is not that valuable. Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 10:00
  • 1
    @Neuromancer You tell the bank in Taiwan that was robbed millions of dollars from their ATM that there is a big difference between InfoSec and Opsec, they'll laugh at you.
    – Nobody
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 10:12
  • 1
    @scaaahu don't see your point the op was saying that exposing your birthdate and photo was a sign of poor opsec and thus a reason to discard the CV Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 10:20

Your main options seem to be...

  1. Ask HR for their insight. They may know the source of the resume and be able to identify if this is normal/expected given the source.
  2. If the candidate's resume otherwise demonstrates the desired qualifications competitively with other resumes, then schedule a phone screening and plan some questions to explore whether they have good judgement.
  3. If the resume is good enough otherwise, and you don't have many other resumes, schedule a phone screening as in #2
  4. Trash the resume - at least for now

If you have plenty of applicants then I'd just outright ditch this one.

Having lots of qualifications but making simple mistakes would make me wonder how much the qualifications are actually worth.

If you're short on applicants I'd interview the guy with an eye to accessing if his skills are as good as the qualifications. I'd certainly hold the resume as a point against.

  • 2
    I agree. I would expect someone to in infosec to be up to date on the relevant laws regarding information security in the country they are applying for a job in. Sending your photo and birthdate is a big no no in the US. Being unaware of this implies that they could be unaware of other US specific laws, regulations and customs.
    – NotMe
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 13:34
  • 2
    @NotMe or that they bought their qualifications online, or found them in a packet of cereal
    – Kilisi
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 18:50
  • 2
    I agree totally. If the candidate doesn't know how to make an ordinary CV, they are no good. I was hopeless at making cvs, so I just hired a top expert for a few dollars to do it. It's easier than buying a suit.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 14:32

The resume is to help get an interview not to get the job. Really, you're placing too much emphasis on a piece of paper.

Can the candidate do the job? A resume provides very little into how they will actually perform. I've hired where what was on the resume was extremely impressive, the resume was very professional (paper, layout, etc) and the hire couldn't (to use a humorous term) 'code their way out of a paper bag'. I've also hired where the resume was (ahem) kind of sloppy. In this case the hire turned into a superstar coder.

To repeat - you're not hiring a resume you're hiring a person based on what they can do.


Personally, I'd be torn between tossing the resume and wanting to invite the person into an interview just to find out why they made their resume so unprofessional. In that case, it would actually work, because the purpose of a resume is to get an interview.

I suspect that the last time this person hunted for a job was well over a decade ago where various stunts were being recommended to get your resume to stand out. That would be the deciding point for whether or not I would invite this person for an interview if they met the qualifications for the position.

I wouldn't rule this person out, and they'd certainly would have gotten my attention, but it would be a mark against them.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .