Job Recruiter Explains Why ‘Miss America Answers’ on Resume Are Why Most People Are Skipped Over

By: Lauren | Published: Feb 25, 2024

The vast majority of people struggle to write their resume. Not only is it challenging to analyze one’s self, but applicants also want to be sure they’re including what a hiring manager wants to see.

A former recruiter recently explained that there is, in fact, a wrong answer when it comes to resumes, and as she explains, it’s the “Miss America answers.”

Lindsay Mustain Reveals the Biggest Mistake Someone Can Make on their Resume

When writing a resume, it’s crucial to ensure there are no spelling mistakes, the widely accepted format is used, and you have all the relevant information.

Linkedin profile picture of Lindsay Mustain

Source: @Lindsay Mustain/Linkedin

But other than those basic requirements, Lindsay Mustain, a former recruiter at Amazon, reports that there is one major mistake a person can make: using vague descriptions of themselves and their positions.


Over a Million Resumes

Mustain told CNBC that she has looked at “literally a million” resumes during her time at Amazon, Comcast, and now as the CEO of career coaching company, Talent Paradigm.

Several resumes rest on a table while a manager looks over one on a clipboard

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And while she has seen her fair share of strange resumes, such as ones with stickers or not-so-professional photographs, the most common mistakes she saw were what she calls “Miss America answers.”

What Are Miss America Answers?

When someone hears “Miss America answers,” the first thing that comes to mind is answers to seemingly uninteresting questions like “What book are you currently reading,” or “Would you be proud of a biography of your life?”

Two photographs of winners of the Miss America pageant


Which is exactly what Mustain is talking about. She’s calling Miss America answers those that are completely vague and unoriginal. For example, if someone answered, “I’m not reading anything in particular right now, but I really do love books.”

What Kind of Vague Answers Are Found on Resumes?

In regard to a resume, Mustain says simple answers and examples that don’t offer any specific details are definitely a mistake.

Person handing a resume to an interviewer

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For example, Mustain said that writing “I had stakeholder meetings with people” on a resume is far too nonspecific. Answers like these make an applicant “look like somebody who’s filling a seat.”

Hiring Managers Are Looking for Quantifiable Information

Mustain says that hiring managers are sick of reading vague details that are only “a glorified job description.” Instead, they want quantifiable information regarding what an applicant has done and can do for them.

Paperwork showing graphs and analytical data on a table alongside a laptop

Source: Freepik

For example, Mustain explains, “If somebody is fixing tickets on a help desk,” they should write something along the lines of “I’ve solved 30 customers’ problems a day.”


Numbers Stand Out

Mustain also said that the “more metrics and analytics you can add to your resume, the more impressive.”

Man clearly stressed as he is surrounded by stacks of paperwork

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And she explains that hiring managers “go straight to the numbers when [they’re] reviewing.” Therefore, the details of a resume with numbers will stand out from the rest.


Hiring Managers Move Quickly

It’s important to understand that the majority of hiring managers are looking at about 250 applications per job opening, and there are usually more than a dozen positions open at a time.

Exterior of an Amazon office building

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In fact, giant companies like Amazon or Google see millions of applications every year, so their hiring staff needs to work incredibly quickly. Often, they only spend a few seconds on each resume, and Mustain says without seeing numbers, she would just keep moving down the stack.


Quantifiable Data That Shows Qualifications

Additionally, experts like Eugene Hayden, who worked for KPMG, Google, and the Boston Consulting Group, want applicants to understand that just throwing numbers onto a resume isn’t going to cut it.

Business people look over paperwork together in a meeting

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Those numbers need to show the hiring staff quickly what someone can do, and more specifically, that they have the necessary skills for that job. Hayden said, “The best resume is the one that shows how you are perfectly qualified for the job to which you are applying.”


Showcasing Specific Value

Therefore, it’s crucial that the numbers used within a resume succinctly showcase the exact skill set of the applicant. But it’s also about showing productivity, efficiency, and the tangible value and impact of an applicant.

Two employees of Indeed smile for the camera

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Indeed recommends using “numbers to show the time spent completing a project, or to illustrate the size of a team you lead.” As well as customer acquisitions, increase in revenue, response times, and much more.


There Are a Wide Variety of Ways to Use Numbers in a Resume

From exact dollar amounts to specific lengths of time, as well as percentages to show growth and even ranges when particular numbers aren’t available, there are plenty of ways to use numbers in a resume that will show someone’s value and abilities in an easy-to-read format.

Two businessmen are shaking hands over a table

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And while using numbers, of course, doesn’t guarantee a callback, according to several experts in the recruitment field, it absolutely gives an applicant a better chance at landing the job.


A Great Resume Is the First Step Toward Getting the Job

The bottom line is that within piles upon piles of resumes, the one with quantifiable data will stand out to the hiring staff in all the right ways.

Woman sits on a chair with a box of her belongings holding a sign that reads “Need a Job”

Source: Freepik

But remember, just throwing in a few numerals among the letters won’t do it. It’s vital to tailor the resume and the figures to fit the job exactly; no recruiter wants to see “Miss America answers.”