You might be wanting me to outline some of the worst resume mistakes I’ve seen — so you can avoid them altogether, and keep your resume as error-free as possible. If you want my help, keep reading…
Getting resume questions answered is only natural and with my years of writing advanced resumes, I’m a natural expert for top-tier managers and executives.
But, it’s not always cut and dried answering questions like these because this demands “seeing the forest despite the trees,” which is something that managers and executives (those at the top of career “food chain”) all too often struggle with.
This is where investing in the writing skills of a skilled resume writer can give you sizable returns when you’re struggling with writing a quality and effective resume.
When you work with a professional and skilled resume writer, that writer’s vision isn’t clouded by irrelevant career details. We focus on your target position(s) and match your resume accordingly. We know what resume details need to be nipped/tucked and what should get chopped altogether versus what should be emphasized.
Essentially, as a resume writer, I look at resumes from a broader perspective and without any biases.
A resume writer can be expensive, right? Yeah, I get this question a lot too.
This “cost” question is somewhat of a “silly joke” because people will spend several hundred dollars on a phone they keep only a year, but try talking these same folks into making that same dollar investment on giving their resume edge that POSITIVELY benefits their careers (e.g. shortened job search and supports higher salary negotiations), and well, their “cheap gene” lurks its ugly head.
Ill-placed priorities? Yeah, I think so too.
Below, I will attempt to give high-level answers to what I see as the top 3 mistakes that job seekers make with their resumes, and some helpful tips for correcting these issues.
Mistake #1 – Your resume looks (seriously) old school.
Newsflash! It’s the 21st century and therefore your resume absolutely needs a resume format and content overhaul.
If you have certain elements, like an objective statement or a line about sending references, your resume is outdated and makes you look aged.
Want to know what a resume objective is so you can avoid it like the plague?
An old resume objective was that one or two sentence resume intro that generally starts out basic; e.g. “To obtain a position as…”
Another way to avoid your resume looking old-school is to remove all references to things like high school and GPAs (unless you’re a fairly recent grad and your GPA is above 3.8).
Here’s an example of how to replace that outdated resume objective with a resume intro that’s far more achievement based.
Mistake #2 – The cookie cutter resume format.
Nothing says ‘BORING’ more than a resume format that’s been used over and over again by job seekers.
In fact, we are seeing these heavily overused resume formats coming out of career service centers at many colleges and from those who are using MS Word templates to format their resumes.
The above BEFORE resume example certainly brings this point home. Nothing really pops out in the first “before” resume example. But with the achievement-based resume, there is some great stuff that jumps out to readers; e.g. award-winning results, Six Sigma experience, impressive cost savings generated for employers, and so on.
You can pretty much guarantee that you will never stand out as a candidate if you don’t embrace updated resume formats, enhanced content ideas, and so on. When a hiring manager sees a cookie cutter resume format, the first impression here is someone who HAS NOT taken much time to write a good resume.
It looks lazy and uncreative, right?
Like I mentioned above, work with a qualified resume writer who brings fresh ideas to your resume and understands the aesthetics of writing great achievement-based content.
What are consistent features of outdated resume formats?
- Consistently sticking with a chronological resume format, when a combination format may be better.
- Not leveraging keyword/keyphrase sections to help boost the keyword quality of your resume.
- Opting for a heavy paragraph look, instead of using a more spacious bullet point layout.
Mistake #3 – It’s all about ME.
Being a company’s job market right now, this means your resume should be about what THEY want and need. Think of your resume as a marketing document that essentially promotes and sells you to hiring managers before they meet you in person. It’s like an introductory offer.
All the achievements in the world don’t matter if you cannot communicate your value to the organization. Take a moment and scan your resume for indicators that you are expressing this worth to the companies you are applying to. If you aren’t, then it’s time for a resume overhaul.
What you list and the order you list those details MUST pertain to the hiring company too.
Does this mean you should customize your resume for each hiring company? Absolutely!
That sounds crazy, right?
Not exactly. If you’re targeting positions that are in line with your career and job focus, the customization process will likely be minimal.
Though, don’t overlook the big stuff…
For example, when the hiring company is seeking someone to expand their business into specific international areas, your resume MUST showcase your experience doing that. When the company wants someone who has extensive experience launching new products and managing creative teams, your resume BETTER, start with outlining your skill level doing that.
Bonus Tips For Writing a Better Resume
Job seekers should always be thinking of ways to improve their resume and put the best possible foot forward. You know this – hiring managers and recruiters are literally bombarded with a deluge of resumes every single day.
This is a great time to ask yourself, WOULD YOU HIRE YOU?
So, would you?
This is an honest question you really should answer once you’ve finished writing your resume.
If your skills and knowledge if comparable to others in your field, think about any special element that you have that no other candidate can brag about. Maybe it’s your outstanding achievements with a recent employer. Maybe you have worked with some well-known companies or clientele.
Whatever this is – accentuate those details in your resume in an effort to help set you apart.
The advantage of another set of eyes
So too, you want to be working with a professional resume writer to help you craft a document that meets the latest requirements.
A lot has changed in the last few years.
Recruiters are turning more to online applicant tracking systems and mobile apps that require resumes to be arranged in simple formats. Some recruiters will not accept attached documents sent by email anymore due to phishing and other email problems. Instead, job seekers must upload their data using their social media profiles or specially formatted resumes. If your resume is missing the specific categories that these new systems look for, then the resume comes out a jumbled mess on the other end.
Are you getting the attention your resume deserves?
A hiring manager is more apt to pay attention to a resume that has been professionally written than one that looks amateurish.
Because they are looking for candidates who care about their image and career enough to invest in a better presentation. They are also looking for those who have a certain level of professional maturity demonstrated by good job search etiquette. If you can get this right, you have an advantage in the job market.
Skills matter, but to whom?
Remember, just because a job seeker sees every skill and achievement that’s important, doesn’t translate to the employer seeing the same.
How do you relate these skills to those found in the actual job description?
Judging from the corporate culture as it’s demonstrated by the job advertisement and the corporate website, are these skills and achievements important?
Think from the standpoint of a manager who is looking for the best addition to his team. He is likely wanting someone who has strong credentials, positive references, and a proven set of skills that are a good match for the current team.
What I am saying here is that you don’t have to use an outdated or poorly formatted resume. Every time you do, you shortchange yourself. The outcome of your job search demands a well-written resume that avoids the top 3 common pitfalls indicated above.