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3 Reasons Your Resume Sucks

3 Reasons Your Resume Sucks

Ah, job hunting. We all love it and can’t wait to get out there and see what the marketplace has to offer us, right?

Not really. Most of us would rather not look for a job if we can avoid it. It’s why so many people remain in careers they don’t really enjoy; it’s easier than looking for something new.

Because it’s not really a fun or sexy subject, many people never really learn what makes a great resume. This lack of knowledge prolongs the job search and leads to endless frustrations.

Here’s the good news: you can tweak a few simple aspects of your resume and dramatically increase your chances of landing an interview. Below are the top 3 mistakes most people make when building a resume, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Talking about what you can do, not what the company is looking for

Many people, when writing their own resume, seem to think the sheer number of credentials and skills they bring to the table will attract the interests of a prospective employer. They scrounge up every ounce of education, awards, or certifications and pepper the page with them. The items don’t necessarily require any connection to the position, but hey, you’ve got it, right?

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Wrong. There is a difference between a skill which separates you from the pack and something which has no relevance to the position you are applying for.

If you are applying for an IT position and you are a Dale Carnegie Communications Course graduate, that’s a difference-maker, because you may have the rare combination of technical and communication skills. This is valuable.

If you won truck-driver of the quarter 3 times and are applying for a sales position, it’s not really relevant. The hiring manager may find it interesting that you can drive an 18-wheeler, but it really has no bearing on the job. If anything, putting it down hurts you because it shows you really don’t understand what the company is looking for.

Instead, focus your mind on what the company is looking for and how you fit their needs.

Write your resume with the tone of “This is what I can do for YOU” rather than “This is what I can do.” When you write your resume with the company’s desires in mind, you will change your wording to show how valuable you are to THE COMPANY, which is ultimately all the hiring manager cares about.

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2. Creating a long, boring autobiography nobody is going to read

Ask yourself this question: have you ever really gotten excited about reading someone else’s biography when you have never heard of them and know none of their accomplishments?

Me neither. What stranger wants to read your autobiography? I do, but I’m a professional resume writer.  Hiring managers aren’t interested.

98% of the resumes on the market are boring autobiographies. “I worked here and did this, and before that I worked here and did this, and before that I went to school…” It’s so tedious and difficult to navigate through.

Understand, all the person reading your resume is looking for is how you can help them fill their need.

This ties in very closely with point number one. A key point to remember: most recruiters spend less than 10 seconds deciding if your resume will be read or trashed. Make sure the first 10 seconds are your best.

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Instead of writing long job descriptions in chronological order, write very short job descriptions and add bullet points of your relevant accomplishments. Don’t hide the fact that you were trained for management somewhere in the paragraph; make it a bullet point. Don’t write a long explanation on how you raised revenue; put in the bullet point “Raised company revenue by 11%.” The person reading this will have a much easier time understanding how you can help them, and are much more likely to call you for an interview.

3. Not addressing gaps or red flags

Times are tough. The economy is bad. Lots of people are out of jobs, and you may be one of them. Some of my clients have been seeking employment for over a year before coming to me. The first thing I notice on their resume is the last position ended months ago, with nothing to let me know what they’ve been up to.

Here’s a bit of advise on how to be a better candidate for a position: DO SOMETHING/ANYTHING!!!

Employers read hundreds of resumes a week and can spot BS and red flags immediately. If you’ve been job hunting for over 30 days and have nothing else to put down on your resume for this time, you are in trouble.

Volunteer somewhere and take free online courses. Keep your skills sharp and relevant. Study a new language. Anything to suggest you are a caring person who isn’t satisfied sitting at home all day watching TV.

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It isn’t necessary to list everything you’ve done during your unemployed periods, just a quick sentence.  An example could be:

“I have spent the last 9 months volunteering at the local homeless shelter, continuing my professional development through courses and seminars, and learning Spanish. I feel it’s important to always be growing and improving my skills.”

This will go a LONG way when put up against another resume which simply says “Last position 10/2010-4/2012″

And last, but not least, don’t lie. If you’re not already working on some projects to keep you busy while you job search, get some.  The worst thing you can have happen is to be caught in a lie. You will not only fail to get the job, but your confidence will be shot as well. Better to be the person you want to talk about than to talk about the person you want to be.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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