Looking for a job is a rough ride, but there's something extra maddening about trying to sell yourself on just one lousy piece of paper. But it's necessary, and if you've been striking out over and over that might be because you have a couple of common resume mistakes. In a perfect world, everyone would be judged on their merits and accomplishments, and then be promptly called in for an interview that would pave the way towards your dream job. But the reality is that your potential employer is taking literally four seconds to glance at your resume, and then making a snap decision whether that piece of paper jives well with the company or not.
So, not a lot of weighing is involved. While that might induce an eye twitch in most, you now have the upper hand: You know you have to make an impression, and fast! Having that in your arsenal, it's time to reframe your resume so it jumps out in the hands of recruiters, spells out your accomplishments in a glance, and simultaneously blows the competition out of the water in three seconds or less. Here are 11 mistakes you're making on your resume, along with tips on how to fix them.
1. Listing Your Job Description Rather Than Your Accomplishments
If you're a writer, your potential bosses know you write. If you're a speach therapist, your facility knows you have the credentials to be there. What you need to show is why you're better than the stack of other resumes on the desk. "t's not as important what you were responsible for as it is what you actually produced. My advice? Read through every bullet point and ask yourself, 'so what?'" Kim Wensel, a personal branding and career strategist, shares in an email interview with Bustle. Asking that will help you focus on explaining why what you did mattered.
2. You Put Your Education At The Top
Unless you graduated valedictorian at Harvard, your school credentials aren't going to be game changers for companies. "Don’t put your education credentials at the top, unless you recently graduated or you’re a current student. Employers anticipate your education being towards the bottom of the resume and expect to see relevant experience first," Vicki Salemi, Career Expert for Monster, shares in an email interview with Bustle. If it really matters to them, they'll glance at it at the bottom.
3. Making It Too Long
While your resume doesn't always have to clock in at a page, you should be diligent in removing unnecessary info. "Yes, it's impressive you've had extensive training, but is this related to the job you're seeking? Don't be worried too much about a gap on your resume. It's more important to highlight your relevant skills and experiences and explain more in the interview than risk listing it all and not getting a second glance by the hiring manager," Wensel advises. If your resume is too cluttered with words, chances are you might be skipped because it's too much to read. So don't make that mistake!
4. You Don't Have An Executive Summary
If recruiters have about five seconds per resume, then having an executive summary can help you shoot to the top of their list. "This is similar to what you’d write in a cover letter — highlighting who you are and what you’re capable of doing. It’s particularly helpful if you haven’t yet done the job that you’re pursuing. Something like: 'Seasoned editor with keen strategic skills for content creation, managing team, working on tight deadlines and managing budgets online and in print,'" Salemi suggests. Think of it as your snappy elevator pitch on paper.
5. You Still Have An Objective
Writing what you want to learn from the company seems so cliche and ingenious nowadays. "It’s so 10 years ago. Replace it with an executive summary instead," Salemi suggests. That's way more popular now.
6. You Ignored Keywords
You should never send out the same resume to each company you apply for. Rather, you should tweak it slightly to tailor it to each opportunity. "Make sure you get really familiar with the job you're seeking and check to see if the way they describe your qualifications is the same way you describe them. For instance, if they use the phrase — social media metrics — often and you have a lot of social media experience but don't explain it that way, consider if your experience warrants a different description," Wensel recommends. Doing this makes the person reading it feel like you're a better fit and like you're familiar with the credentials they're looking for.
7. You Include Your Home Address If You're Looking For Jobs Out Of State
If we're being honest, a recruiter isn't ever going to reach out to you using the post office, so having your address on your resume from the get-go is counter productive. "If you keep your home address intact, you’re letting recruiters assume it’ll take months upon months for you to move when they have a job to fill ASAP and that it’ll cost a relocation package (even though most aren’t really true, especially when you’re moving on your own dime)," Salemi points out. Nix it and give yourself a greater chance at getting a callback.
8. You Keep Dated Accomplishments
While it might be impressive you doubled your company's Twitter followers back in 2008, hanging onto super old experiences can actually take away from your resume, not add to it. "Unless you won a Grammy, Nobel prize, or other really rare achievement, keeping dated accomplishments can seem like you are overcompensating for not having any recent ones. Keep your high school swim team MVP award off," Angelina Darrisaw, an international business and career coach, shares in an email interview with Bustle. If you don't think you have any, begin tracking them!
9. You Don't Highlight Projects
While you might list your credentials, have you added your most important projects? "You should be highlighting your work contributions first. Where did you add value? What big projects have you completed for your last company?" Darrisaw advises. In the end, those will be the points that impress employers the most.
10. You Skip Your Awards
While you might not think your marathon medal is important, it can give your employer a memorable glimpse of who you are. "You might think that if an award isn't directly applicable to the duties of a role you're applying for that you don't need it. However, your community service award, or half marathon or management certification show a full picture of who you are to a potential employer," Darrisaw explains. Brag a little and show who you are!
11. You Don't Quantify Your Impact
If you increased sales on your team, be specific by how much. If you increased the cases per shift worked, bust out the percentages! "Companies need to see that you are results oriented and value-focused. Show them your value with specific results. Rethink all your bullets and seek to clearly define how every task you did added to the bottom line," Darrisaw recommends. Quantifying things gives employers an easy understanding of just how much you accomplished.
Keeping these tips in mind, go back to your resume and see where you can tweak it! Better opportunities are on your horizon.
Images: @abeautifulmess/Instagram; Bustle