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15 Mistakes People Good At Resume Writing Never Make

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 January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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