Your Resume Is Your Worst Enemy:6 Ways to Defeat it

Your Resume Is Your Worst Enemy:6 Ways to Defeat it

Compiling an amazing resume is often described as the ultimate job search challenge. Truly, creating the resume that will secure an interview may well be the most difficult part of your job search. It doesn’t take much to land your shining finished product firmly in the “no” pile. There are turn-offs, red flags and simple mistakes that will send your resume straight into the garbage can. However, being aware of these common mistakes and avoiding them is half the battle. Let’s take a look…

Problem #1: Your resume is too lengthy, but you’re unsure of what to delete.

Deciding what makes the final cut on your resume can be a real challenge. Experts advise not to go further back than 10-15 years in your work history. Another way to determine this would be to not include more than your previous 5 jobs, whichever option is shorter. Descriptions of duties at each position can also take up a lot of room and is generally unnecessary. Using short sentences or bullet points can be great ways to simplify details. While there doesn’t seem to be a perfect length for a resume, one page seems to be the current trend with two-pages being acceptable if needed.

Beware of using what is termed as “filler.” This is an old trend that has gone by the wayside. At one time there seemed to be a misconception that having important words or different types of positions listed on your resume would increase your chances of landing an interview. This will not prove true if this extra information causes your resume to be so wordy and long that it is tossed in the trash bin. “More” is not “better” in when dealing with your resume. You do not want to appear to be someone who “dabbles” in everything; you want to show expertise or experience in a couple of areas instead.

Problem #2: You lack education and experience.

This can be a common problem as we search for positions that challenge us to better ourselves. When you find that job that mentions experience or education that you lack, you should still give it a shot. What do you have to lose by applying? Job listings tend to contain a wish list of sorts for the perfect candidate. Odds are, there isn’t going to be anyone that meets each requirement. Be honest in listing the education and experience that you do possess, don’t ever be dishonest. Even if your degree is in a completely different field, it still demonstrates your knowledge base and shows that you are a graduate. Fill in the blanks by expressing the interest and enthusiasm you have for the position along with a healthy desire to learn on the job. You may be surprised with the results.

Problem #3: Not only did you not stay long at your last job, you have a history of frequently changing jobs.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are wondering if a job should be listed, here is a common guideline. If you were at a job for less than two months, leave it off your resume. If the time spent in that position was over two months than in most cases you will want to include it on your resume. Such a short time frame spent in any position is bound to raise questions from a perspective employer, so be prepared to answer truthfully. It may be that the position wasn’t what you had hoped for or maybe there were economic problems that surfaced, whatever the case, be ready to discuss it.

A similar issue that you may face comes from hopping from job to job. While this may feel like a mark against you, that is not always the case in the eye of the hiring manager. Perhaps you advanced in status due to some of your job changes? Having the initiative to continue to search until you find what you are looking for and where you will happily stay may show the company in which you are applying for that you are in a real search for a long term career. As mentioned above, be prepared to discuss these job changes and the goal of each. Remember, no trash talking, that never leaves a positive impression. Avoid it at all costs.

Problem #4: You have sizeable gaps in your work history.

If you have time off between jobs that are long enough to draw questions it is a good idea to address these in your cover letter. Take comfort in the fact that with the economic slowdowns that have hit over the past decade gaps in employment history are much more common than they once were. State in your cover letter whether the time off was due to staying home to raise children or a tough job market, but do address it. If the length of your job search has reached a point that you must get something on your resume, then take up some volunteer or freelancing work and include that. As with anything on your resume, be prepared to have an open and honest discussion about it.

Problem #5: You are using outdated resume terms.

You want your resume to get noticed, but not for the wrong reasons. Below is a list of some of the terms you should now avoid even though they were popular in the past.

  • References available by request (Of course they are, but either include them, or don’t mention them).
  • Detail-oriented (aren’t we all? At least to some extent).
  • Hardworking (actions speak louder than words; no one really believes this statement until they see it for themselves).
  • Objective (very outdated, replaced with a job or career summary).
  • Responsible for…. (Using this format will cause your resume to become to wordy).
  • Problem solver (is this really unique to you? I don’t think so…).
  • Team player (again, action and time will tell).

Problem #6: You include too much personal information and decoration.

Even though talking about hobbies, religion and marital status discloses a lot about yourself, you don’t want to include these details on your resume. You also don’t want to be the one resume that uses a bright pink cursive font. While you will get noticed, it will not bring the results that you are hoping for.

A professional resume is crucial in today’s competitive job market. The details can make or break you. Be sure that your resume shows a clear direction along with career goals that you are hoping to achieve without including information that would be deemed too personal.

Remember, every mistake you may have on your resume is completely fixable, don’t lost heart. Don’t make more of it than it is by taking yourself too seriously. Your resume isn’t a legally binding document. Your past employer isn’t going to proof read it for you. Your resume is a summary of your work history, education and experience, that’s all. It’s your journey, your path and experiences and your future. Take the time to prepare a resume that makes you feel confident or hire a professional resume writer to do so, but take pride in yourself and your accomplishments, whatever they may be.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Image courtesy of aechan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Amy L Adler markets senior executives with persuasive executive resume writing, compelling LinkedIn profile development, and masterful job search coaching, so they can identify and obtain the executive career of their dreams.
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