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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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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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