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10 Common Resume Problems You Probably Have

10 Common Resume Problems You Probably Have

Putting together a well-written resume can be a huge challenge. Resumes provide you with the single opportunity to make a good impression and secure an interview for the job you want, but they are often littered with problems that lead them to be placed in the “no” pile.

Here are 10 common resume problems you may have, and how to solve them so you can stand out from the crowd and land that interview:

You want to change fields, but lack experience

This can be a tough challenge, but it’s not impossible. Look at the job you’re interested in and identify the skills necessary for the job. Design your resume focusing on skills, rather than specific jobs or experience. For example, instead of listing your two marketing jobs, list the skills and knowledge that will transfer to the job you’re seeking. Another way to pump up your experience is through volunteer or freelance work. Both can be listed on your resume. For example, you’re thinking about becoming an event planner, so get involved with a non-profit organization and help out on an event planning committee.

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Your college degree isn’t relevant to the job you’re applying for

Fear not if your degree has nothing to do with the job you’re applying for. Many people get a degree in one field, but wind up doing something completely different. Focus on your skills and experience in your resume rather than the degree. But don’t leave the degree off of your resume—it demonstrates your knowledge base.

You have a big gap between jobs

Whether your time off between jobs was your idea (staying home to raise children) or circumstances (a tough job market), don’t hide it. The good news is, given the economic slowdown, employment gaps are not uncommon. It still is something that needs to be addressed. A great place to do that is in your cover letter. If you stayed home to raise children or took time off to care for an aging parent, mention that in your letter. If you’ve been trying to find work for a long time without success, volunteer with a local organization and include that on your resume. That experience can go a long way and may even help you develop new skills. Freelancing is another option to help fill in gaps while you’re looking for the next gig. If your gap happened more than five years ago, don’t worry about addressing it. Your work history since the gap says a lot. Regardless, be prepared to answer questions about your work history during an interview.

You frequently change jobs

Having four jobs in five years can land you the job hopper tag. But it’s not all bad news. Let’s say in each case you improved your position—going from a line employee to assistant manager and then a manager. That shows initiative on your part and may be just what the company is looking for. Include all the jobs on your resume (unless you were there less than two months) and address your frequent job changes in your cover letter by saying you are looking for the next challenge to help you build a successful career with the right company. The job changes are bound to come up in an interview so be prepared with a good answer. Saying you left positions because you didn’t get along with a co-worker or boss is definitely a buzz killer.

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You didn’t last long at your last job

Did you decide after a month or two it wasn’t the right job or did the company make that decision for you? In either case, if you were on a job for less than two months, it’s best to just leave it off of your resume. If you were there longer than that, put it on your resume, but be prepared to answer in an interview or even in your cover letter why your tenure was so short. Whether it was economic changes or the job wasn’t what you expected, go ahead and say that. It shows honesty, which employers always are looking for.

Your resume is too long, but you don’t know what to cut

Different hiring managers look for different resume lengths. Some want only a one-page resume while others say two is fine. Trying to figure out what to include in a resume can be a challenge, but a good rule of thumb is to only go back 15 years or five jobs, whichever is shorter. Describing what you did on various jobs can eat up a lot of space, so keep it short. Use bullet points or simple action-orientated sentences such as: Managing a team of five people.

You’re overqualified for the job you’re applying for

Whether you’re looking for something completely new or just need a job, you can still put together a resume that can help you land an interview. The key is focusing on your skills, not titles and words like “managed others.” Customizing your resume for the job you want and having a well written cover letter also can go a long way.

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You’re short on experience and education

You’ve found a job that you would love to have, but the description mentions education and experience you don’t have. You should go ahead and apply. Job descriptions are a wish list and it’s possible no one out there meets the exact requirements. Be honest and talk about what experience and education you have and express a desire and excitement to learn and grow.

You choose the wrong words

Your resume and cover letter are your opportunity to make a first impression to a prospective employer. You want to make sure that impression is good, so be professional, using the right tone and words. Use specific, action verbs such as “managed,” “processed” and “edited,” rather than bland words like “did.”

Your resume is littered with mistakes

This is an easy problem to fix. Just make sure you run spell check and have at least one other person read your resume before you send it in. Go slowly when putting your materials together. If it takes an extra hour or two to send in that resume, take it. It’s better to take the time to send in a well-written, mistake-free resume than to hit send right away on a resume riddled with mistakes.

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Putting together a resume can be a difficult task, but taking your time to think about what to include and how to avoid common problems can help you land that interview.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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