There’s no such thing as the perfect resume; industries vary, fashions come and go and – as always – beauty’s in the eye of the beholder. But there are common mistakes people make, which stack the odds against them at shortlisting time.
If you’re not getting any interviews, it’s probably time to take another look…
Have a clear brand
The best resumes spell out who you are, what you do and how that will add value. They have a clear thread running through them that matches you to the position; a flavour that’s consistently reinforced through your profile, skills and experience.
If you can’t articulate your brand, you’ll find the product – you – hard to sell. You’re marketing an employment solution, so know your product’s strengths and attributes; what you do and how you do it.
Shift the focus
So, your resume’s a list of everything you’ve ever done in your past positions, right? Wrong. It’s a sales pitch, demonstrating how your skill-set maps onto their needs, now.
If you keep writing about what you’ve done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve had – so highlight what’s relevant and package yourself for where you want to go.
Watch your language
Industries and sectors have their own languages; ‘insider’ jargon and acronyms. Use the right key words – they’ll be in the ad and position description – and translate your experience into terms your audience will understand. The right words announce your suitability; the wrong ones will typecast you.
Make it scannable
Before you spend hours lovingly crafting narrative prose, stop! No-one will read it.
Recruiters have piles of resumes and tight deadlines; they’ll scan, not dig for gold. Make your fit clear, concise and easy to register quickly. Which leads me to…
Structure for scanning
If your resume’s beautiful but hard to read, it’s failing you – likewise if it’s multiple pages of thick black text. Make it easy to skim, with a clear, simple and consistent format. Use bullets, align dates, highlight headings and pad with white space. And while we’re at it, lose the cover page – it only gets in the recruiter’s way!
Make no assumptions
You know you had 3 short-term contracts, and then took 3 years out to raise your kids. To them, you’re a job-hopper… with possible prison time? Gaps leave question marks, question marks cast doubt, and enough doubt will take you out of play. Spell it out.
Nothing says sloppy and unprofessional quite like typos. Check, check and triple-check for grammatical errors, typos and inconsistencies in tense or verb endings – then pass it to your most pedantic friends. Poor presentation will land you in the no pile.
Ultimately, resumes are marketing material – and few of us are natural copywriters.
If you’re not getting the results you want, then seriously consider a professional re-write; it may be the best return on investment you ever get.