Written by Gary Matsuda
Usually, you’ll work with one resume coach at a time but, here you’re getting the collective expertise of four resume writing experts to make sure you don’t make the same errors they’ve seen countless of time over the years.
These are the Biggest Mistakes:
Brenda Cunningham, owner of Push Career Management and President of Resume Writers Council of Arizona, says too many resumes try to one size fits all which makes it harder for the reader to understand what the applicant strengths are for the job.
Donna Tucker, https://www.linkedin.com/in/donnatuckeraz/ founding member of Resume Writers Council of Arizona, says what she sees is applicant suicide – ‘death-by-bullets’ (that’s bullet points BTW) where the resume becomes nothing but a list of functions or tasks without putting them into context.
Jeri Hird Dutcher, National Award-winning Certified Resume Writer says the funniest mistake was a resume with blue green font centered in the document. Stands out – but for the wrong reason.
Amanda Miller, owner of Ink and Quill Communications 8 pages long with a photo of himself an almost 2 page bio, no professional experience, all education dating from the 70’s, left out his phone number and he was wondering why he wasn’t getting responses!
Why You Should Hire a Resume Expert:
For one thing, you are not likely to be an expert at job hunting – and you should have to be. Get help from those who have seen it all (see above) and can steer you away from the all the obvious resume faux pas. There are even times when rules can be broken and unless you know what you can get away with it’s best to get help from experts who’ve have seen thousands of resumes and can spot quickly what you need to present yourself as the best possible candidate. They’ll also work with you to create a strategy for the job search so you won’t waste time sending your resume and applying everywhere.
Most important to have on resume:
Lead with a brief 2 to 4 line headline/summary/branding statement that is specific to the open position. It shouldn’t be merely review of what you do now but answer the question, ‘Why should you be hired?’ A professional resume writer will help you pack as much into your summary in as few words a possible to make the reader to keep reading on.
Everyone wants to see results! Front load the results of your accomplishments near the top and left so they are one of the first things to be scanned. Use the keywords that are specific to your target position and in a meaningful format that impacts the reader. The hiring manager must know right away that you are the perfect fit for the job so anything listed that doesn’t match what the company is looking for will likely get passed over – as will your application.
Make sure you make it easy for them to find you! Have an email address that is easy to associate with your name but in good taste. Also include your phone, general location, and a link to your LinkedIn profile.
• Especially for security reasons, leave out street address, license or certification numbers. Also, references can be left off to save space and they are usually not needed at this point.
• Older formal education dates over 5 years old
• Anything that makes your document go over 2 pages
In most cases use sans serif fonts with size to about 10-12. Serif fonts (with the little feet at the ends of the characters) can look old and may be harder to read on a screen.
Calibri and Arial are the most universal and have better chances of looking the same on most computers.
Bold and italics should be used sparingly.
25 years old with 40 years experience
Ageism is illegal, yet it persists in the workplace and especially in hiring. The resume panel suggests not using old looking email as in ‘hotmail.com’, ‘aol.com’ and avoid using dates in email, for example ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
Don’t mention that you’re seasoned, leave that for enhancing the flavor of aged beef. Spice up your resume by focusing on results and accomplishment, not how long you’ve been on earth. One fear of hiring managers is that those who are retired or are near the end of their careers, might not have the energy or eagerness to do the work and might not stay long term. Present yourself in a way that they feel compelled to call you because you bring much value to their organization. Check with a resume writing professional for tips and job search strategies so you can show off your expertise without being obvious about your age.
Did You Make a Difference?
The old resume style was more skill based but now employers want to see what you’ve done with those skills and how you’ve made the company money, saved money, reduced waste, improved processes/morale/teamwork, solved problems and grew the business.
An easy way to remember how to present this is to use a C.A.R. format.
• Challenge. What was the problem that was solved?
• Action. What action did you take?
• Result. What was accomplished?
Address the question ‘Why should they care about what you did?’ The description should be detailed enough so it doesn’t appear too vague or general and the reader doesn’t have to guess. If you answered phones, how many calls did you make, Teachers can include how many classes or student they’ve taught, nurses can quantify number of patients.
About that Gap Year (or months)
You may know what you did last summer but your next employer doesn’t.
So, it is up to you to bring out your best (and downplay everything else). There’s enough negativity going around so there’s no need (and no room) to have any of that in your resume. Everyone knows how Covid-19 has been so devastating to business so you shouldn’t have to go into much detail if you were laid off during the pandemic. If you had to take care of a family member, experienced a Covid closure or RIF a line stating that would be enough without anyone holding that against you.
If you’ve been out of work because of illness, that’s understandable, but avoid revealing too much information which can be awkward, uncomfortable for the interviewer and irrelevant to the job. It’s discriminatory but health can also signal that you may be higher risk of taking more time off from work.
However, if you’ve been out of employment for a period of time, you need to show how that free time was used constructively. There are plenty of resources available online for professional development, certifications, training, networking and even volunteering that can show you were practicing or building skills useful in the workplace.
One thing that you should be able to do now is work remotely and that means it’s expected that you should know how to use any of the video conferencing, file sharing and project management software that’s in use now. If you don’t, now is the time for some self-directed training and get up to speed on what everyone is using now.
You against the ATS Machine
Mid-size to large companies with enough resources may use Applicant Tracking Systems, so you’ll need to make some adjustments to make your resume electronically friendly. Your resume is scanned by the ATS for keywords that match the job posting. To appease the ATS gods, be diligent in using the same wording in your resume that’s found in the job description (even if it is misspelled). ATS are everywhere, but not that smart! For help, use Jobscan.co https://www.jobscan.co/ which can compare your resume to the job description and point out the keywords that should be in your resume.
To be safe, use .doc format as some ATS cannot take PDF. There should be instructions on how to upload documents so be careful to obey them!
While it’s certainly a real drag to customize according to each job posting, it will increase your chances of getting past the automated screening process. Remember, you’re not only up against the ATS but also dozens or hundreds of other applicants going for the same position. Don’t spray your resume to different positions like spam but, be the one who is sincere about putting in the effort it takes to get hired!
With 200 something different ATS application out there you can’t be sure what you’re going to be dealing with, but with the help of an experienced resume writing expert, you can be sure your resume will hold up against the toughest systems out there.
Can you use a Resume Template?
You may get a visual of a decent format using a template, but they are difficult to customize, could be outdated and what you see isn’t what you get, especially when the document is read by one of the many ATS software programs in use or is viewed through another browser/word processor/email or operating system.
Avoid getting screened out because your resume contained fancy formatting and was translated accidently into Wingdings or Cyrillic script. Instead, use something more universal (Arial or Calibri for example). A template may still be helpful if used for hardcopy only. However, prepare digital versions without the premade templates to feed the various ATS monsters lurking behind every job posting.
Cover letters – Still Useful?
You betcha. But only sometimes. A resume with a cover letter attached will most likely be rejected by an ATS, so do not attach it with your resume to upload – unless there are specific instructions to do so and that it will likely ask for them to be uploaded separately. Nor will it be read by most people, unless you are in the final selection stage.
Not a writer? Go find your friendly local resume writing pro to help you since you should be focusing on working on your employable skills.
Get a Pro – because you are one and you work with other professionals!
Cyracom, Caitlin Meek, Operations Recruiter
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