5 Ways Your Resume is Working Against You

You may have spent time proofreading your resume and making sure you look like the shining star you are, but chances are you have overlooked some critical mistakes in adequately representing yourself. 

Here are 5 quick ways your resume is likely working against you, and how to correct them.

1. Lack of clarity around your end goal

Before you even open your resume, you should spend some time thinking through your end goal. What are you trying to accomplish with your resume? Don't begin writing or updating your resume until you have a crystal clear answer to that question. 

For example...let's say your end goal is:
Secure a sales job with an up-and-coming tech company.

In that example, your resume should focus on sales experience, working in a fast-paced environment, and also working in the tech industry. Even if you don't have those exact experiences, pull what you can from past experiences that can relate. 

Pretty much all workplaces consider themselves fast paced, so that's an easy one, it's just a matter of using that phrase throughout your resume (more on this in #2). 
Sales should be a focus - the resume reviewer should walk away from your resume knowing you can sell (more on this in #3).
Tech should also be a focus. If you've worked for a tech company, play that up. If you haven't, identify the work environments you've been in and skills you have that would directly relate. For this, you'll need to be sure you understand what they are looking for in an employee (more on this in #4). 

2. Lack of repetition

You were likely (hopefully) told by an English teacher along the way you should avoid repetition of words and phrases in your writing. Unnecessary repetition is especially noticeable in short pieces, which is to be avoided. However, not in resume writing! The reason is precisely why the English teacher said to avoid it: it's very noticeable. Use that to your advantage

You want to make sure your end goal is supported by strong repetition of key phrases. 

Back to our example example...
Secure a sales job with an up-and-coming tech company.

If you have any semblance of sales experience, you should have the word "sales" all over your resume. 
You should also repeat phrases relating to the company. Do your research, find out how they talk about themselves, and mirror that language. You need to make it obvious that you'd fit into their culture. 

3. Making people connect the dots

You are up against two things. 
1. Robots
2. Lazy people

In large organizations, there is often a pre-screen done electronically where they will look for key words (making repetition all the more important!) to scrub stacks and stacks of resumes. Robots can't connect the dots, decipher context, or read between the lines. Don't use complex language or assume people will follow your logic that you're outgoing and therefor will be good at sales. Instead, talk directly about your success in sales. Skip the fluff and make every word count. 

If you bypass robots, you're still likely to either be one resume in a large pile, or one of few in a highly competitive hiring pool. If you find yourself in a pile, I can guarantee the reviewer will get lazy. You can only review so many resumes before they all run together a bit. 
If you are in a tight race with just a few final candidates assume the reviewer is lazy and needs you to be crystal clear. 

Either way, don't leave anything to chance. Be clear. Be concise. Write about direct experience that will translate to the role you want. 

4. Thinking your resume is about you

This is a fatal error. 
Your resume is 100% a demonstration of what you can do for me. It's not about you. It's about me, the hiring manager. 

Your resume isn't a trophy case, it's a highlight reel. Bear with me and the sports metaphor for a second...

A trophy case is to show people what you have  done. What you accomplished at one point in time. A trophy case is about the past. A trophy case makes me think, wow, they had a good run. 

A highlight reel is about what you can do. A highlight reel makes me think, wow, we could use that on our team. Now. 

Writing about your successes or achievements without the contextualization of how that can translate into a new role is creating a trophy case, and it will cost you a job. 

However...if you can connect the dots to what you have done to what you can do, you're in great shape.

5. Not highlighting transferable skills

Often times, we write about general job duties we completed in prior roles. Or, better yet, we may focus on achievements within a role (better, but not good enough). 

We must write about job duties and achievements can translate or transfer into a new role. These are transferable skills. Leadership, integrity, data analysis, communication, ability to coach, and specific industry or business knowledge are transferable skills. 

Here's a common example of feedback I've provided on resumes:

BEFORE: Provided peer assistance to new hires within the department

AFTER: Selected (always sounds better) to provide coaching and support to new hires within the department, scheduling recurring meetings, identifying areas of opportunity with training and procedure, as well as increasing time to fill productivity by xx%/days (always provide specific metrics if possible).

Of course, these things must all be true!

Often people miss the opportunity to demonstrate the transferable skills behind the task. Coaching and root cause analysis are important in tons of roles and if you're after a management or leadership job, it's crucial. 

There are lots of ways to improve your resume, but these 5 things are critical. Update your resume and remove these ways you've been getting in your own way.

If you'd like help implementing these changes, contact me and I would love to help!