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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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Published on March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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