Ten Signs Your Resume Needs Work, Part Deux

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog detailing several signs your resume needs work. About halfway through drafting it, though, I realized that while it contained a lot of good information, it was pretty darn long. So I broke it up into more two more manageable chunks.

English: Two regular Oreo cookies. Please chec...

Think of it as pulling apart the Oreo to get to the sugary treasure inside. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, as promised, here is the second chunk unlocking the new-and-improved resume filling:

5) Your resume doesn’t include your most recent accomplishments. How many of you out there stopped keeping track of your accomplishments about 90 days in at your most recent job, once you’d made the probation period and knew/thought you’d be sticking around awhile? Or worse, how many of you never did this in the first place? Even if you don’t go about updating your resume and professional profiles every month, make sure you keep a running list of new achievements somewhere because a) you’ll forget as time goes by, and b) you’ll need them to revise your resume when the time does come for you to move on.

4) It reads like a series of job descriptions instead of marketing your accomplishments. Circling back to No. 5, most people don’t think they have any work to do when it comes to updating their resumes because they plan on simply using items from their job descriptions as bullet points. Problem is, your resume should not be a series of job descriptions. (In a future post, I’ll be detailing more about this subject in particular, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.) Your resume needs to tell recruiters what you did in X position for Y company that the other applicants competing against you for X position at Z company did not, would not, or could not. That’s how you stand out against the competition and, with any luck, also eliminate them from the running entirely.

Rocky Balboa

In other words, your resume should be the written equivalent of this guy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3) It repeats the same tasks at different jobs. This is a really bad sign that stems from that “job description resume” problem. Yes, if you’ve been a janitor your whole life, you’ve probably mopped floors at each job. But was it the same kind of floor each time? The same size every time? The same tools each time? The same amount of time every time? As silly as this example might sound on the surface, each of the questions posed reveals areas where new skills might have been obtained or new innovations might have been conceptualized. Plus — believe it or not — “Regularly completed the cleaning of a 2,400-square-foot wood floor in 15 minutes instead of 4 hours using a technology and process I researched and tested for the company” is the type of thing that should be on a resume.

2) It contains errors (factual, grammatical, or both). The more you review your resume — and you should be reviewing it a lot — the more your eyes will start to gloss over any errors that will stand out to people reading it for the first time. As an editor, I can tell you that it happens to everyone and, sadly, more often than any of us would like to think or admit. Formatting issues (e.g., that box that didn’t look weird on your Mac but showed up as something else on a recruiter’s PC) are easier to dismiss because there are so many glitches when files move from one computer or platform to another, but typos, informational errors, and the like can’t be dismissed so easily, if at all.

English: An example of the "Whose Respons...

Don’t be that guy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sad to admit I was guilty of this one early on in my career. In my eagerness to apply to a job, I misspelled a single word on my resume, and that was all it took to cost me the opportunity to meet the employer for an interview; the recruiter was candid enough to tell me that my error played a role in her decision. (Granted, this is more applicable to people in my industry specifically, but still … And this is also proof that, in fact, some people do spend more than six seconds looking at your resume, contrary to what this study cites on pg. 3.)

Or maybe you screwed up the dates you held a job, the year of a degree, or something else along those lines. With all the (unfortunately extremely necessary) reference and background checking that takes place nowadays, one or more of these types of errors could have a potential employer thinking you’re lying at worst, trying to hide something at best. Neither will get you an interview.

Sneaker Sniffer

Except maybe for this job — smell the horror! (Photo credit: Stewart Leiwakabessy)

Should you find yourself in the position of catching your errors early enough on in the application process to potentially address them, you can do one of two things. You can just send your cover letter and resume again with a note saying, “Please refer to these materials when you review my qualifications for the A position at B company,” and hope for the best, or you can keep your fingers crossed that the employer will contact you regardless, at which point you can provide a revised version of your resume. Either way, don’t draw attention to the error. In the latter case in particular, most people provide hard copies of materials during interviews anyway, so you doing the same won’t seem the least bit unusual.

1) You’re not getting any hits. Whether it’s a combination of the reasons I’ve detailed above or in my earlier blog, a single one, or something else entirely, the definitive sign that your resume needs work is that employers aren’t contacting you. Don’t count those automated “We’ve received your materials and will be in touch if your qualifications match our needs” emails, either; everyone who applies gets those if the company set up the function. I’m talking about an email to schedule a phone interview, or a phone interview, or an in-person interview, or a job offer. If you haven’t gotten at least one of these things in the most recent three months of your job search, your resume is most surely to blame. No matter how stiff the competition, everyone has some mad skills. Question is, is your resume doing what it should and showcasing them?


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