Resumes are your calling card for entry into new roles, companies or industries. Outside the old adage of “who you know” that still stands the test of time, you’ll need this 8.5 x 11 piece of paper that can likely determine the difference between thousands of dollars (both in the short-term and long-term with bonuses being based off this initial negotiated amount), and your livelihood. Your day-to-day. This is important stuff, so why not take your search seriously and “play the game?” 50% of hiring managers or recruiters look at your coverletter, but over 80% look at the resume. If you want to stay competitive, get yourself a solid resume that messages your targeted interests, credentials, transferable skills, some key buzzwords for the applicant tracking systems, and your bottom-line impactful statements woven into your experience or accomplishments section. The biggest reason you might be out of consideration for any potential opportunity is format/style and content. If you’re not making sense to yourself on the page and it looks sloppy, why would anyone else take it seriously?
I always say to my clients if a hiring manager crinkles his or her forehead, you’re lost the battle of the 6 second rule. The 6-second rule is the time it takes the hiring manager/recruiter to peruse your document before either considering reading further for possible interview consideration or moving onto the next candidate and having your resume tossed in the virtually trash can. Another major reason is you have no meat in your experience. I also say drop words that are ambiguous and force people to look up the word when reviewing your resume. Do not outsmart the reader. And don’t slow them down. Also, words like “Championed, Responsible for, and Spearheaded” are dated. Rather think in terms of business quantifiers that everyone can understand and most likely track in their respective roles. Words like “Increased, Optimized and Improved” go a lot farther for the candidate. Also, drop the personal pronouns! Only use I, we me, you, etc. on your cover letter!
Hiring managers and recruiters want to know what you’ve done to either make money, save time, cut costs, retain a client, streamline a process, optimize efficiency, reduce waste, etc. These are what I call business quantifiers. Think in terms of productivity, monetary values, workflows, process improvements, etc. What is your value to the prospective hiring organization, and how can you translate that value into words on the page that build your overall message? Lastly, doing the resume yourself is something a lot of hiring decision-makers will notice. If you aren’t a mechanic, why try to changeover your engine? If you aren’t a writer of sorts, or even an actual resume writer, why try to position yourself in a bad light when you can spend a couple hundred bucks on something more meaningful and impacting? As I mentioned, it could garnish thousands of dollars more and your livelihood is counting on it so do it right. You’re only got one shot to impress, don’t be the person who gets buried under the candidates doing things the right way.
Some resume writing pet peeves:
1. Capitalizing anything and everything. Make sure everything you write is accurate and adheres to the rules of English language grammar!
2. Not putting hyphens between numbers in your phone number. I hate to decipher numbers when I’m on the fly.
3. Misspelling words. C’mon, people! There’s spell check and Grammarly! Not to mention dictionaries, both old-school hard-copy books and online editions.
4. Using ambiguous or unclear verbiage. Quite frankly, if I have to look up the word, you have failed. Never try to outsmart the reader.
5. Putting your creepy picture on the resume. Don’t scare anyone off with any sort of picture. Keep those for your LinkedIn profile.
6. Too long. Let’s put your whole life story on there, why don’t you? No! No one cares about your awesome time at Dell in the early ‘90s. Keep the detailed employment summary to ten years of experience, maximum.
7. Too much information. Although I’m sure all seven of your children are lovely, let’s refrain from listing their names, ages and hobbies under your Interests section.
8. Not listing relevant details like your titles, dates, employer location, college degree, etc. If I have to guess, I’m moving on.
9. Poor formatting. Visual clutter like different typefaces and boxes causes confusion for applicant tracking systems. Those are the robotic screeners that The Livelihood Makers and Breakers (LMBs) use to identify you by the “buzzwords” or keywords on your resume.
10. Paragraphs only? The only spot for a complete paragraph is the summary, and even that should be no more than three sentences.
11. Too messy. If your resume looks and feels like a document that was written and sent within twenty minutes, it won’t make a positive impression.
12. A sense of entitlement. A delivery that sounds presumptuous or entitled shuts the reader down. Once again, don’t outsmart the reader with sentences that make eyes roll, like “I am far by the most superior worker in our office.”
13. Acronyms and abbreviations. While you should use terms that are common in your targeted industry, do not add too much jargon or heavy words. If the LMBs do not understand what you have written, how will they pass it on to the next level of decision-makers?
14. Too edgy. Any hint of bitterness, anger, or hostility will severely undermine the credibility of your resume. Keep your tone warm, relaxed and friendly.
15. Too many redundancies or wasted words. Too many “as well as” or “in order to.” Cut out words! Less is more in this Twitter-paced age.
16. Failing to use action verbs! Always start off with a bang!
17. Using the word “responsible.“ Just stop it. Please.
18. Too much white space! You don’t need a page and a half. Either it’s a single concise page, or two complete, detailed pages.
19. Confusion about employment history, such as missing dates, accomplishments, company location, etc. If I am having a hard time trying to understand what the heck you’re conveying in the first eight seconds, I’m moving on.
20. Too much info for the great beyond. The further into your past, the less detail you should have. Likewise, don’t throw in irrelevant information. Even your essential contact information doesn’t need to take up any more than two lines.
I hope some of these resonate and help improve your marketing materials. Remember, it’s important to treat your job hunt like it’s you are convincing whoever’s on the other end that you’re the best fit! Save them some headaches while reading your credentials and make it easy for them. They want you to be the fight fit.
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