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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 January 13, 2020

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

Physical Signs

Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental Signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • The tension in your neck
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

Desire for an Increase of Salary

The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

Overnight Decision

Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

Rejected for a Promotion

I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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Bored at Work

Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

  • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
  • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
  • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

How to Make a Career Change Successfully

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a Career Plan

A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh Your Options

If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

    A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

    4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

    A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

    • What is required to be successful in the role?
    • What certification or educational development is needed?
    • What are the challenges of the role?
    • Is there potential for career advancement?

    A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

    Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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    5. Research Salary

    Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

    It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

    6. Be Realistic

    If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

    For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

    Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

    7. Volunteer First

    A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

    Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

    Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

    8. Prepare Your Career Tools

    I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

    • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
    • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
    • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
    • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

    Bottom Line

    It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

    Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

    [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
    [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
    [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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