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Resume Not Getting Results? Here Are A Few Common Resume Pitfalls

Resume tips for experienced professionals and new grads

resume for profsThese days, the job market is incredibly competitive. Former managers with decades of experience are having just as much trouble being offered positions as recent college graduates. If your phone isn’t ringing maybe it’s time to revamp your resume.

Here are a few resume tips to help you stand out from the crowd whether you’re a seasoned professional trying to address being “overqualified” or a new grad just starting out.  It’s essential to avoid a few common resume pitfalls.

Avoid These Common Resume Errors

You’ve spent hours crafting the perfect resume. You’ve formatted it, spell-checked it and even had a few friends give you tips on polishing it to perfection. It looks great! It lists all jobs you’ve had in the past ten years including supervisor names, contact information and duties.

So why isn’t your phone ringing off the hook with interview requests? You’re making one of the most common resume errors: Listing duties instead of accomplishments!

Kelly Donovan, Certified Resume Writer explains it this way:

“The most common problems I see are focusing on job duties instead of specific accomplishments, leaving out important keywords and making the resume too broad instead of targeting it.

A resume should highlight detailed examples of professional achievements, like improving efficiency 25 percent by streamlining a particular process. Most job seekers hesitate to identify specific accomplishments, usually out of modesty, and as a result, their resumes all sound the same as other applicants who have similar qualifications.”

So there you have it. Get specific and your resume will stand out on a desk (or email inbox) of hundreds!

Five Things to Make Your Resume Stand Out

    1. Tailor It

Though it may be tempting in an exhaustive job search to type out one professionally-crafted resume and send it out to all prospective employers, it is very important to tailor your resume by making slight adjustments based on the position you’re applying for.

    1. Focus on Your Accomplishments

As mentioned above, the most common mistake employers see on resumes is a focus on job duties, instead of specific accomplishments. Citing real numbers is a great way to impress a prospective employer and make your resume stand out. Now is not the time to be modest. If you saved the company $3,000 last quarter, mention it. If you devised a new way to improve customer service, let it be known on your resume. Even if you only managed a team of three, showcase these leadership skills.

    1. Short and Concise

Don’t go back more than ten years on a resume. Most HR personnel have only five minutes at best to look skim your resume looking for relevant skills before moving on to the next. If they have to weed through more than one or two pages, they’ll set it down and move on. Be sure to note relevant skills and accomplishments in no more than a few short, easy-to-read sentences.

    1. Good Format

You may think pink resume paper and a fancy font is the best way to capture the attention of a prospective employer. It’s not. Instead, use traditional white or cream-colored resume paper and familiar, easy-to-read font such as Arial or Times New Roman. Double-space between jobs and bold job titles to make skimming easier. If you’re sending your resume in an email, these same rules apply.

    1. Proper Spelling and Grammar

Hitting spell-check is not always the way to ensure your resume is error-free. There are certain words and sentences that won’t be picked by editing software. That’s why it’s important to look it over carefully before submitting or you may end up boasting to the hiring manager that you’re a “1-year-old Marketing Executive” or a “Rabid Typist”. To read more funny examples of resume mistakes,click here. (Just be sure your resume never ends up among them.)

You’ve Been Out of Work Six Months or More

If you’ve been out of work for some time, you may be concerned about the growing gap in your employment history. Nancy Range Anderson, founder of Blackbird Learning Associates advises: “Should someone be out of work for a while, he or she can include his or her volunteering experience or any tasks associated with professional groups. These activities allow an applicant to continue using his or her skill set, learn new skills, and network.”

Citing your volunteer experience or continuing education courses assures prospective employers you’re staying active and improving your skill-set. The most common type of resume is the reverse chronological resume, were you list your job experiences starting with the latest and ending with the first.

If you’ve been out of work for six months or more, you may find a functional resume is a better format for you. In a functional resume, you list transferable skills, competencies and accomplishments relevant to the position you’re seeking at the forefront.

Click here for more information on writing in-transition resume.

How to Avoid Being Viewed as “Overqualified”

Many candidates, especially job-seekers over 50, struggle with being told they are overqualified for a position in which they are applying.

Tiffani Murray, author of Stuck on Stupid: A Guide for Today’s Professional Stuck in a Rut offers this:

“I advise clients who are more experienced for a job they are applying to, to cut out some information. For example, if the job doesn’t require management experience you may want to remove those elements of your resume.”

This doesn’t mean leave a wide gap in employment, however. This will eventually need to be explained and may backfire on you. Instead, include the position but customize the details.

How to Avoid Being Viewed as “Inexperienced”

If you’re a recent high school or college graduate attempting to transition into the workforce, you may be concerned about not having enough experience to fill up a resume.

“A great way for recent college grads and other job seekers with limited work experience to add value to their resume is to join professional associations relevant to their industry.” This comes from Jennifer Fishberg, Ed.M. of Career Karma and it is good advice.

Volunteering or joining a professional association is a great way to build job skills, network and keep up with industry trends. It also shows drive and initiation, which is sure to impress your prospective boss.

Remember, your resume should be short and concise, reflect your accomplishments and be formatted in an easy-to-skim style. Seasoned professionals should tailor their resumes to the job. This is particularly important if it’s a position you may be overqualified for. Recent grads should showcase their volunteer experience and network with industry insiders often.

Whether you’re a former CEO, graduate looking for her first job or somewhere in between, these resume tips should help you transition from jobseeker to employed that much faster.

About Jaime A. Heidel

Jaime A. Heidel is a freelance writer with a passion for helping others. She enjoys writing articles on all subjects and is also a published fiction writer.


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