Improve your job search results by avoiding these common resume pitfalls:
Trying to be all things—Choosing a focus can seem limiting! Review effective marketing campaigns (remember, your resume is a marketing tool), and you will consistently find cohesive, compelling messaging. Even at a career fair, your resume must present a focused picture of your value-add to the organization. Bring multiple versions if necessary.
Generic summary—A summary or professional profile is standard on today’s resumes, acting as a commercial for employers. Most summaries use canned language and focus around skills, not accomplishments. Get in your unique stories professionally by including highlights of value delivered to organizations with a focus on how your skills produce results (results or value added is important in any type of position!).
Strategy—Don’t get caught up in a one-size fits all approach. The positioning of each document section (i.e. experience, education, technical skills) depends on your background and its relation to your target position. Think about using roles instead of titles (does Administrative Assistant III do my academic program development experience justice?). Use years only, not months, and give the most “face time” to the most relevant experiences and accomplishments.
Informality—Employers are not on board with the current job seeker fad of using “I,” “me,” and ”my” in resumes. Stick to a formal approach using a “telegraphic” style which limits the use of “a,” “the,” and other articles. The document can still flow and tell your story!
“Me” focus—Your resume is really not about you. It needs to communicate your unique brand while focusing on the target market. All information needs to be relevant, easy to read, and value-focused. Include 15 years of experience at most and, again, only relevant information. Length is determined by the level of the target position, not your experience!
“Responsible for”—This phrase is an interest-killer and space-waster! Including information about your responsibilities is key, and using action and value-oriented language captures an employer’s attention. For each position, include only relevant and necessary information.
Don’t tell it, prove it—Use challenge, action, result stories to sell yourself. Think of it as telling facts, not bragging. How did you add value for companies and/or customers? What examples can you share where you solved problems you know this employer is facing? What were the outcomes and results in the stories behind every bullet on your resume?
Template formats—“Have I seen this before?” You don’t want employers thinking this as they pick up your resume! Word templates are overused and inflexible. The most important information to demonstrate your fit for the position needs to go on the top and on the left of the document. Most templates have the dates to the left, which are rarely the highlight of someone’s qualifications! Start from scratch. Look at examples in RECENT resume books. If a “skills-based” format is the best format to showcase your skills (as opposed to chronological), use it!