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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 June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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