Ten Sure Signs Your Resume Needs Work

Few things are more painful to jobseekers than being passed over for interviews related to positions they were qualified for. One of those things that is, however, is finding out or intuiting it was their resumes that were responsible for it. After all, the resume and cover letter typically represent the only chance most will ever get to make an impression with employers.

Elvis Impersonator Mardia Gras, Bourbon Street

Don’t make it this, kids. (Photo credit: california cowgirl1)

While it doesn’t seem that it should be the case, the fact remains that today’s job market requires a totally different resume from one that was perfectly acceptable just a few years ago and may have even landed you a job back then. So, roughly in the order of potentially forgivable to egregiously unacceptable, here is a list of signs your resume may now be doing you more harm than good.

10) It goes on … and on … and on … and on … Are you trying to catch a recruiter’s attention or put him or her to sleep? While many will say there are no hard and fast rules on resume length, most agree that anything beyond two pages offline is pushing it. If your resume is longer than two pages when printed out, the reason for that should be unspoken but understood by you and the HR people in your field, as there are exceptions to every rule. In any other case, you’ve got some trimming back to do.

Photo of actor Paul Reubens as "Pee-Wee H...

“A-a-and knitting … a-a-and knitting … a-a-and knitting … ” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9) It includes more than 10 years of experience. This one’s a toughie because you may have experience more than 10 years back that’s completely relevant to the position you’re applying for.  If your resume isn’t pushing beyond two pages, it’s probably OK to keep it — though it does date you, which can be a dangerous thing in the Millennial-saturated job market. If nothing else, you can probably get away with a reference to any missing yet relevant experience in your cover letter. Knowing what the general rule in your particular field is on how much experience to include can be pretty important here again, though, as this “sign” may not apply to you.

8) It doesn’t have anything to do with the field you’re pursuing. Just like clothing when you either gain or lose weight, your resume will need tailoring to fit any change in career you may be making. From highlighting certain accomplishments and skills over others to using the lingo of that field and more, you have to make sure your resume speaks to a whole new set of HR personnel effectively.

English: More clowns at Clown School

“We loved your use of red noses for bullet points!” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7) It contains things like “Objective” and “References available upon request.” Nothing says “I’ve been out of the game awhile and, what’s more, have not done any research on today’s recruiting methods” like a resume with either of these phrases on them. Instead of listing your objective, give a three- or four-sentence summary of qualifications, which is kind of like a summary of your entire resume (yes, a summary of a summary) highlighting your skills as an applicant. And just completely delete that other phrase, grateful to have gained one more line of space on your resume to highlight your awesomeness.

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II X

“Why, yes, I do rule.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6) It doesn’t look visually appealing. A friend of mine always jokes that she doesn’t read books that don’t have pictures in them. (She’s a rocket scientist — literally — so I assure you this is a joke and she’s not ignorant.) Still, her little wisecrack does shine light on today’s expectation that things have to be image-laden or, dare I say, “pretty” in order to catch anyone’s attention. Infographics, for example, are hugely popular because of their visual appeal while communicating valuable information.

Your resume must do the same — without the infographic. I’m not talking pictures of yourself or images at all, either, mind you; we haven’t broken through that barrier where pictures on a resume are acceptable just yet (though it’s probably coming). However, if your resume contains no formatting or sense of layout to help guide your reader visually, it will likely fall on deaf eyes.

tone → color synæsthesia.

Synesthesia or mixed metaphor? You decide! (Photo credit: Sean Molin Photography)

“Ahem, Raegen,” you may say, “your title says 10 signs, but you’ve only listed five here, and I’ve now reached the end of this post. What gives?” In the interest of keeping this blog a blog versus turning it into a novel, I’ve saved the top five signs for my next post, so stay tuned; I will not let you down!

Iron Warrior

(Photo credit: pasukaru76)



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