Have you struggled in today’s competitive job market to get attention and generate calls for interviews? Could the trouble be your resume? After all, your resume is usually your first opportunity to make a good impression, and first impressions are crucial. If your resume is not producing results you are satisfied with, you might want to check it against these five common gaffes.
1. Insisting that your resume must be no more than one or two pages
It’s true that in many cases your resume has a much better chance of being noticed if it is between one and two pages in length. The majority of professionals who have more than five years of experience will need two pages. But, succinct and crisp writing is always best as the person charged with going through incoming resumes will undoubtedly have a very large number to consider. If your resume is to the pointand is written in a way that calls out key qualifications, you have a better chance of getting noticed among the masses. However, in some cases you’ll find it impossible to include all of the information that is pertinent within a page or two. This is often the case with executives and people who work in technical roles, among others. If you try and cram everything into the restricted space of two pages, the chances are that you will leave out something very important. In these cases you may need to use a third page. Another option would be an “addendum” document that is submitted along with your shorter resume. In brief, focus on writing your resume with only as much detail as is absolutely necessary to persuade and convince the reader that you are the ideal candidate. Be very discriminating and not overly “wordy.” Make certain every word of your resume has a purpose.
2. Starting your resume by stating what it is you want
Objective statements, in the traditional sense, are very rarely used these days. Your goal in your resume is to focus on your audience and how you can meet the needs of that audience. You will invariably find that the traditional objective is basically a statement of what YOU want, rather than how you can benefit the employer. Instead, include a qualifications summary to set the focus for the resume while allowing you the opportunity to showcase the value that you offer to the employer.
3. Focusing on your job responsibilities
Job responsibilities are just the baseline of what is expected of you in a position. If you describe your job responsibilities in a resume, you simply tell the reader that your qualifications are on par with every other applicant. Never forget that your goal when writing a resume is to illustrate the value you bring to the table that differentiates you from your competition. What unique ability do you have to solve the problems of the employer? Tell stories of your successes with past employers that demonstrate these proven abilities. What challenges did you face with past employers? What did you do to meet those challenges? What were the results? If you look at it from this perspective you will quickly realize that you do not need to go into boring detail about what responsibilities you held. Stories of your accomplishments are far more compelling and persuasive.
4. Culling everything from your resume that is older than ten years
It’s very true that most employers are interested in your most recent experience, but that does not mean that they won’t be interested in relevant experience that is further back in your history. Rather than just picking a cut off point, it is better to strategically select and highlight what you believe is of greatest relevance and downplay anything which you believe is not. For example, 18 years ago, you may have worked for a very prestigious organization within the target industry. Or, you might have a very specific and pertinent accomplishment that you achieved while you were in a position, 14 years ago. Don’t just exclude these items because of their age. On the other hand, it isn’t usually in your best interest to date a resume back further than 20 years. If early experience older than 20 years is still pertinent, just include a brief summary without including dates.
5. Including personal information
You must be very careful when you include any personal information in your resume. Don’t give the reader any reason to screen you out. Only include information which is relevant to the professional situation. Your hobbies, religious affiliation, family status, health, and birth date have, in general, no place on any resume.
The stakes have been raised in the job search. Employers receive a deluge of resumes every day and in response to every job opening. Taking the time and making the effort to ensure that your resume is blunder-free and as strong as possible is definitely worth it. You can use this list of common errors as a guide in editing your resume to create a compelling self-marketing document that will give you a competitive edge.