“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” – Unknown
Recruiters have to get through hundreds of resumes in a short time. Research suggests that the average hiring manager takes less than one minute to peruse a resume. Other studies show that they can do this initial check in six seconds. Larger companies use applicant tracking software to make the initial selection and they do that in a split second! So, what are they looking for and what should you avoid mentioning? You have to try and get inside the typical recruiter’s mindset, which will reflect what is in the job description. If you can do that, you can enormously improve your resume. Here are 20 things that will guarantee your resume ends up in the trash:
1. They do not want to see your life history.
Many applicants want to present a comprehensive resume and include all sorts of irrelevant information. For example, you might include summer jobs which are of no real interest to the recruiting manager.
The solution is to include information about experience and skills which are closely related to the job you are seeking. If the company is looking for someone with marketing skills, the manager will be looking for lots of relevant examples and successes in your marketing. If these are not prominent, then your resume is headed for the bin.
2. They do not want to see a messy and untidy resume.
This is a real turn off for recruiters because they cannot find the information they want quickly. The best approach is to be as clear and concise as possible. Mention your name, present position and then relevant experience by mentioning the posts you have held. Make sure you put in start and finishing dates and use bullet points to mention responsibilities and main achievements.
3. They do not want to see your photo or other pictures.
Generally, the photo on the resume is superfluous. Also, the hiring manager does not want to be influenced by gender issues. Why should she waste one second of those precious six viewing your stunning beauty?
As we live in such a visual age, your photo is going to pop up sooner or later, for example on your LinkedIn page. The best thing to do is to make sure that your page does actually have your photograph!Advertising
4. They do not want to see vague objective statements.
Writing about your rather vague objective of gaining more skills and experience is a real turn off for the hiring manager. A classic one which cuts no ice at all is, “Seeking a challenging position that offers professional growth.”
Focus instead on this job. Concentrate on listing your experience and skills which will help you to land the job. Read the job description again and again to make sure you have matched up the requirements with what you have to offer.
5. They do not want to see irrelevant personal details.
Let us suppose that your church and sporting activities are not applicable to the job you are seeking. If that is the case, they are superfluous and should not be on your resume. The same goes for marital status and other personal details. Most of these are, in fact, illegal for a hiring manager to ask during an interview. So why include them in the first place?
If, on the other hand, you were managing public relations for a charity in your spare time and are applying for a job with a similar profile, then by all means, mention this.
6. They do not want to see your skills that everyone else has.
When job applicants mention that they are completely at ease with the latest versions of Microsoft Office and Excel, hiring managers will yawn. Everyone working in modern offices have these skills.
If you are working on software development and applying as a software developer, then it might be relevant. If it is just part of your normal skills set for routine jobs, then do not mention this at all.
7. They do not want to see unexplained gaps in your resume.
Courses, lay offs or even getting fired can result in a gap in your resume. Maybe you went freelance for a while? Employers and managers are familiar with this and there is no problem with a gap.Advertising
When you are not prepared to explain the gaps or put a positive spin on them, then there may be an issue. If the courses or freelance jobs improved your skills in certain areas, then by all means include them and relate them to the skills required for this new position.
8. They do not want to see fancy fonts or creative formats.
Did you know that many tracking systems strip out all the fancy stuff and the actual viewing format a manager sees is in plain text? This means that, in many cases, your creative talents will go unnoticed and are a waste of time. If the manager is actually reading the hard copy or attachment, then creative formats may be a distraction and a hindrance. The solution is to keep it simple, clear and concise.
9. They do not want to see empty and poorly managed social profiles.
Yes, your social media profiles are looked at in the job hiring process. In one survey, more than one third of the recruiters are looking at these to filter candidates. Some estimates say that 92% of companies are using social media in their hiring process. If your LinkedIn or Google+ pages are not showing useful and stimulating content, nor connecting sufficiently with people in your industry, then forget it.
Always make sure that you are up to date with developments in your industry and that you are actively engaged. Show that you are a resource and help your connections solve problems.
10. They do not want to see resumes written in the first person.
Yes, they know it is YOU who is applying so there is no need to overuse the word ‘I’. Most applicants start with ’Responsible for’ which is another way of saying ‘I was responsible for’. The best approach is to make it much more action oriented and start the sentence with ‘Managed…’ ‘Co-ordinated…’, ‘Designed….’, Cut costs….’ Resolved issues……’ and ‘Led a team of 10…..’.
11. They do not want to see your duties listed.
All the day to day stuff you do to keep afloat is not necessary and nobody wants to know, least of all the hiring manager. They just assume you know how to do these! Instead, focus on results you have achieved, how you increased revenues, cut costs or how you played a key role in improving productivity.
12. They do not want vague statements of success.
When you state that you have achieved something, you need to quantify it. It is not enough to say that you completed X project within the deadline. You need to go into more detail.Advertising
A good example would be: “Played a key role in the opening of a new branch. Since inception, client numbers have tripled. There are at present 600 individual client files, with about 33% of these active at any one time.”
13. They do not want to see just a list of bullet points.
It may seem easier on the eye at first but when hiring managers are presented with only bullet points, it is actually difficult to read. The ideal resume will contain a mix of sentences interspersed with bullet points which are best for lists of figures or facts.
14. They do not want to see lies or exaggerated claims.
The hiring manager wants the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Some applicants think that a lie here or there is not going to matter one way or the other. They can also embellish their successes with exaggerated claims. Stick to the truth!
15. They do not want to see your work email address.
Hiring managers do not want to contact you at your present workplace, for obvious reasons. It is also safer and more confidential for you. Always leave a personal email address which has your real name, rather than your ‘cute’ email address.
16. They do not want to see a line about references.
Did you know that 99% of applicants write a line stating, “References are available on request”? This is a waste of a line because space is precious when you have to keep your resume to a maximum of two pages.
A much better idea is to leave that out and have a list of reference names ready, should you be asked for them at the interview. Make sure that you have already contacted them so that they are ready to give you a reference, if requested.
17. They do not want to see a one-size-fits-all resume.
You apply for lots of jobs and you always send the same resume. This is a grave error because each job is different requiring particular skill sets, experience and so on.Advertising
Remember that each recruiter is looking for a resume that matches their company profile and the skill set for a particular position. A one size fits all resume can never do that.
18. They do not want to see cover letters.
There is a fair amount of debate about this but the consensus is that a cover letter is actually clogging up vital space and time. No one reads it. Sometimes, though, a cover letter is required. It will depend on the company where you are applying. So pay attention to whether one is asked for.
The best solution is to concentrate on hard hitting statements in your resume which match the skills sets and experience and qualifications required.
19. They do not want to see your cool Word Header feature.
Many applicants want to make a good impression by using the Word header feature with their name. It looks prominent and cool. They are unaware that some scanning software cannot read this header, so your resume ends up as being from an anonymous applicant! Basically, stick to more conventional methods for displaying your name at the top.
20. They do not want to see positions dating back more than 15 years.
Did you know that ageist attitudes are still rife in the job market? By listing all the positions you have held since graduation means that you are going too far back. There is no need to put the date on things like your degree. The general rule of thumb is to cap a limit of 15 years so that it does not become a historical or autobiographical document.
As we have seen, a resume is rather like an advertisement in which you show off your main features to entice the hiring manager to actually find out more. If you avoid the 20 mitakes above, you could land that dream job. Good luck!
Featured photo credit: College of DuPage Internship Expo 2014 1/COD Newsroom via flickr.comAdvertising
Last Updated on August 25, 2021
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:
“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.
Table of Contents
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.
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,
“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.
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.
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:
- What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
- Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
- What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
- 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.
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