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15 Mistakes People Good At Resume Writing Never Make

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15 Mistakes People Good At Resume Writing Never Make

Job candidates – take note! This is not your dad’s resume! That might have been 3-4 pages long with detailed, prose paragraphs describing his work experience and formatted exactly as every other candidate’s. Like everything else, resume writing has undergone a huge transformation in recent years. What once might have gotten you noticed (and even an interview request) will no longer work.

Gone are the resumes that go beyond one page – long documents are simply trashed because no one wants to slug through content to get to the meat. Gone are the days when a one-size-fits-all resume could be created and sent indiscriminately to any company with an open position. Just as any product is marketed to a target audience, your resume must be aimed at a specific consumer (in this case, a hiring manager).

And if you are a hiring manager, pay attention. If you’re looking to add to your staff, a resume will tell you a great deal about a candidate… if you’re able to read between the lines. You may not have a lot of experience evaluating resumes and determining who deserves an interview, but be watchful of the mistakes listed below. If you spot any, there’s a chance your candidate is lazy, unable to prioritize well, or has difficulty getting to the heart of matters. These aren’t the traits you want to add to your team.

As you know, there are certain things that must go in your resume. They are critical to who you are and what you can bring to the table as an employee. These are things like experience, skills, and accomplishments. The problem is compressing all of that into a very small space. As Kermit the Frog says, “It ain’t easy!”

While you’re finding this balance, here are 15 fatal mistakes that great resume writers will never make:

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1. They never create a resume that is too long

The general opinion is that a resume should be no more than a single page. If you have a lot of background experience that relates to a specific position, yours may go into a second page. That’s fine, so long as your first page is attention grabbing and compels the reader to continue.

2. They never create a laundry list

Recruiters and potential employers don’t want to pour though long lists of your past responsibilities. Learn to get rid of anything that doesn’t relate to the position at hand – no one cares!

3. They never focus on tasks

Tasks don’t say anything; achievements do. Instead of saying, “Responsible for developing a strategic plan for content marketing,” state, “Developed a strategic content marketing plan that increased visitor traffic by 25% and conversion rate by 15%.”

4. They never use a canned cover letter

If you can’t take the time to conduct research on an organization and craft a cover letter that speaks to their goals and the position you’re seeking, then you do not deserve an interview. Don’t be lazy! Engaging your reader immediately is critical. Of all resume writing tips, this may be the most important.

5. They never lack imagination

Both your cover letter and your resume must look unique. Present it creatively – print it on colored or professional resume paper, and use tasteful graphics to showcase your achievements. Worst case scenario, consult with a resume design expert if your imagination isn’t firing on all cylinders.

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6. They never use a template from the Internet

Everyone else is already doing this, and no single template is going to fit your needs and presentation. You should strive to be unique if you expect someone to read your resume for more than 8 seconds!

7. They are never too creative for the organization

Each resume sent out must be tailored to the receiving organization. A resume sent to a conservative company will look far different than one sent to a progressive tech startup! By not changing your resume’s language and appearance, you are simply begging for rejection!

8. They never put an objective statement at the top

So you want a position in your field that allows for career growth while using your acquired skills to benefit yourself and the organization? In other news, the sky is blue.

Unless your hiring manager is a bit dull, it’s safe to assume that they already know these things about you. So why waste the space? Use those extra lines to talk more about your achievements or skills.

9. They never have grammatical errors and typos

These are inexcusable in this day and age and speak, again, to laziness. You’re not writing a scholarly article, but what you do include has to be completely free of errors. It’s impossible to predict your reader’s familiarity with English, so it’s best to assume that they’re a real stickler for proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Use these tips as your personal cheat sheet for resume writing, and avoid the common mistakes that your competition will make.

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10. They never put dates first on employment history

These are boring. State your position and company first, either underlined or in bold.

While you’re at it, try experimenting with other creative presentation methods, particularly if there are gaps in your employment history that you don’t want to highlight. Some newer resume designs that are getting a lot of play these days don’t present your employment history in chronological order. Instead, they emphasize your skills and accomplishments as bold sub-headings, and then list the companies at which you demonstrated these skills and accomplishments. This lets the reader see the important stuff first.

And speaking of those embarrassing employment gaps, be prepared to answer any questions about them. Chances are they will come out during an interview whether you like it or not.

11. They never write paragraphs

Paragraphs are for CV’s. Unless you are applying for a research grant or a position in higher education, dump that prose. Include bullet points that speak to your achievements in short phrases, not sentences.

12. They never lack focus

Here we go with customization again! Each resume you develop for each position you seek must focus on the skills, talents, and achievements that relate to that position. Everything else just takes up space! This same lack of focus can carry over to an interview, and it is often stated as the most common rejection review.

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13. They never include too much personal information

It’s certainly appropriate to include a very short section on your outside interests and hobbies, particularly if they are unique. Avoid mentioning religious, political, or controversial activities. If, on the other hand, you are a skydiving instructor or ran the Boston Marathon, that might pique someone’s interest! Some people prefer to handle this by referring the reader to social media accounts (cleaned up, of course) with interesting info about their activities.

14. They never apply if they aren’t qualified

What’s the point? You won’t get an interview, and it wastes everyone’s time!

15. They never leave out keywords

Many companies require electronically-submitted resumes because they have screening software that scans for certain keywords. You can find these keywords on the company website and in the job description – use them or your resume will be trashed before it even reaches a human being!

It’s nice being able to tell yourself, “I have the perfect resume for this job.” And if you take these tips seriously, you just might! Your resume will get noticed, it will get more “play,” and you will be the one called for that interview! And in case you still don’t feel prepared, here are some tips for you next interview that will help you deal with any other you may be worried about.

Featured photo credit: Career Fair at College of DuPage 2014 36 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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