AvJob searches have migrated online for the most part, but to find work you’ll still need a strong resume. Whether in the application process or during an interview, your resume is still the cornerstone of your job search.
In February, unemployment fell to 7.7%– the lowest it’s been since December 2008. Good news but there are still 12 million Americans reportedly out of work. If you’re among the unemployed, or simply doing a little career spring cleaning, here are these four resume killers that can cost you the job.
First, a resume is supposed to be your story as a professional. As a writer, I can attest to the many pitfalls of storytelling, but the biggest one is boring, or confusing, the audience. With all writing, you want a simple, consistant structure the reader can follow. Resume writing is no different. Avoid using jargon and other language that can be hard to follow. Do, however, employ action-oriented language that will make your resume pop. For example, eliminate wording like “was responsible for…” and replace it with action words such as “initiated,” “managed” and “executed.” Aside from catching the reader’s eye, you’ll also seem more like a go-getter.
We wrote before about overused resume terms when, at the end of last year, LinkedIn released its annual 10 most overused profile keywords. In order they included: “problem solving,” “analytical,” “responsible,” “innovative,” “track record,” “extensive experience,” “motivated,” “effective,” “organizational” and “creative.” These terms often find their way onto resumes, as well, and instead of having the desired effect of attracting recruiters, they persuade them that you’re uninventive. Worse yet, you’ll blend in with the other “creative, effective and responsible” jobseekers. Nicole Williams, Linkedin’s career expert, advises instead to replace passages with those cliches with sections that illustrate projects you’ve worked.
It’s one thing to gussy up your resume with impressive language but some exaggerations amount to an outright lie. Studies also find it might not help your case. Eight percent of Americans admit to embellishing their resumes (Seems low…53% percent of recruiters say job applicants straight out lie.) Of those who admit to the exaggerations, more than a quarter say they lost their job when it was uncovered. Bottom line: don’t lie. Matters of fact are easily verifiable in this day and age. Most employers will call your references and you’ll be found out. If you’re not sure of the difference between artful packaging and outright lying on your resume, ask yourself if your former employer would agree with your word choice or characterization. For those exiting a job, it may also be worth it to discuss during your departure achievements you should highlight.
Finally, I understand the temptation of a long resume. When all a recruiter has to go on is your cover letter and resume, you want to be certain that you’re giving him or her as much information as possible – especially when you can’t be certain what will catch their eye and set you up as the ideal candidate. But job recruiters and other hiring professionals are as busy as the rest of us. They have to sift through tons of resumes and the last thing you want to do is turn them off with a two or three page document.
Of course, how long is too long depends on the industry. Professionals who use a curriculum vitae, or CV, have some leeway but the rest of us should stick to the one-page resume to be safe. One page should be just enough to highlight your most recent work experiences, education and applicable skills. Does the thought of that make you nervous? Consider that 93% of recruiters use Linkedin to screen candidates. Between your online professional profile and the interview, there should be plenty of opportunity to share more.
Photo Courtesy, Victor1558.