Here’s a fact: Very few people like reading résumés, especially those who read hundreds of them a week. Ask any recruiter. I critique and write résumés as part of my job. I’ve read hundreds of them and have conducted numerous critique sessions, but I've got nothing over recruiters.
The only bright spot in this whole process is reading a résumé that doesn’t give me a sharp pain between my eyes, one that is relatively sound. A résumé that is outstanding--now, that's a WOW moment.
Once you understand that recruiters and employers are not dying to read your résumé, you can focus your attention on writing one that pleasantly surprises them, one the prompts them to recommend you for an interview. To make employers want to read your résumé, you must, at the very least, avoid making the following mistakes:
An apathetic approach to writing your résumé; like, “I’m not into writing a résumé. It means I have to think about what I did.” I come across people who feel this way. They ask me to look at their résumé and have this look on their face that says, “Would you write my résumé?” Do not rely on others to write your résumé; it’s your responsibility. Besides, you have to be able to defend it at an interview, so it helps if you know the content.
It lacks accomplishments. I know, you’ve heard this a thousand times. But it’s worth repeating because you want to stand out from the rest. Many people think accomplishments should only be highlighted in the Employment History section or under Career Highlights. Some of your accomplishments should be stated in the Professional Profile. Develop processes that improve operations and result in decreased costs, exceeding dollar amounts in the tens of thousands. This assertion must then be backed up in the Employment History with explicit examples and dollar amounts.
Failing to show employers what you’ll do for them. Employers don’t want to know what you did; they want to know what you can do. You’re probably thinking, “If my work history is in the past. That’s what I did. How do I show employers what I can do?” It’s what we in the field call prioritizing statements, or targeting your résumé to each company to which you apply. In other words, illustrate how your qualifications and accomplishments match the employers’ requirements in order of importance.
You don’t know what employers want. This is another mistake jobseekers make. Many people don’t take the time to dissect the job ad to discover the most important skills and experience the employer wants to see on your résumé. If the ad is skimpy, go to the company’s career section on its website. Better yet, if you know someone at the company or know someone who knows someone at the company, call him/her and ask more about the position. LinkedIn is a great tool for finding influential people at companies. The bottom line is that you can’t write a targeted résumé if you don’t understand the requirements of the job.
You’re not using it to brand you. Branding experts will tell you that your résumé is perhaps one of the most important ways to brand yourself, which means you need to think about the whole package; not just your technical skills and accomplishments, but your personal and transferable skills as well. This doesn’t mean that you can just throw adjectives on the page; you need to show how you’re, say, innovative, a leader, and more.
You lack keywords and phrases. Keywords are the skills that applicant tracking systems search for to determine if your résumé will be the first of many to be read by employers. Your branding title, much like the title on your LinkedIn profile, is the first place on your résumé where you’ll utilize keywords. Then you will make sure they’re peppered throughout the rest of your résumé.
These are but six faux pas you must avoid if you want to write a powerful résumé that gets you a spot in the hot seat. Once you’re at the interview, you’re one step closer to a job offer.