When you’re applying for jobs and not landing interviews, it’s tempting to blame it on huge, existential reasons. I don’t have enough experience in the field. I’ve spent too long doing the same thing and now I’m pigeonholed. I’m not senior management material.
Related: 5 Resume Mistakes To Avoid
Guess what? If your resume isn’t passing muster during an initial scan, it’s most probably due to one or two fixable elements. Address them and you should see a quick uptick in responses.
Here Are 5 Of The Biggest “Resume Killers” You Should Eliminate:
Resume Killer #1: An Objective Section
Run a Google search for resume templates and you’ll come up with plenty containing “Objective” sections. But in the real world, they’re outdated and a prime example of wasted space.
Because an “Objective” section is focused on what you want, whereas a great resume is all about giving an employer what they want.
Here’s an example of an “Objective” section for a senior-level finance role:
To obtain a position in an area of finance that will allow me to develop client-based experience, and further develop my finance knowledge.
And now here’s an opening paragraph that’s based on a careful analysis of relevant job postings, and speaks directly to the qualifications target employers care about most:
Performance-driven Finance Professional with 11 years of experience strengthening Credit and Equity Desk operations, mitigating risk, and developing strategic alliances. Skilled across all finance fields including credit risk analysis and management, financial statement analysis, financial and loss forecast modeling, valuation modeling, equity, derivatives, and statistical analysis. Proven team building skills.
Resume Killer #2: Writing In The Third Person
Unless you go by a mononym such as Madonna or Bono, writing your resume in the third person is a surefire way to come across as pretentious.
Here’s an example: “Bill introduced Lean manufacturing processes and managed all of the necessary staff training aspects for successful adoption.”
Well, Bill’s name and contact information are right at the top of the resume, so when Bill refers to himself in the third person is just feels contrived. Imagine this POV held throughout the resume and you begin to see why it’s a big reason resumes get passed over.
The fix is to write the resume in the first person, but leave out the pronouns. Using the above example, you could rewrite it as: “Introduced Lean manufacturing processes and managed all training necessary for successful adoption.”
Fair warning: it’s going to feel awkward writing in this fashion at first. But getting facile in the particular language of resumes (or hiring a professional resume writer to be facile on your behalf) makes you come across as an insider.
Resume Killer #3: Using A Company Email Address
Sometimes what’s easiest is exactly what you shouldn’t do. Sure, you could simply insert your company email within your resume and call it day, but do you know what that says to employers?
- You are searching for a job on company time (and will most probably end up doing this at your next position).
- You are a Luddite who is intimidated by the prospect of creating a personal email account.
The most efficient fix is to create an email account JUST for your job search. This way you can keep track of all job search-related communications without fear of discovery.
Resume Killer #4: Equal Space For Every Job
If you’re currently after a Chief Information Officer role, why does your last CIO position take up just as much space as that Systems Admin job you held ten years ago? Equal emphasis on everything doesn’t win you points: it shows that you don’t understand how to play to your strengths.
Use the following hierarchy to determine the optimal allocation of space for jobs listed within your resume:
- Jobs which ESTABLISH CREDIBILITY for the type of position you’re after. Look for similar responsibilities and level of seniority.
- Jobs held within the PAST TEN YEARS. Stress quantifiable accomplishments wherever possible.
- Jobs which HIGHLIGHT TRANSFERABLE SKILLS. This is particularly important if you’re making a big career change.
- Non-relevant positions.
Expert tip: really old jobs can be summarized within a bulleted “Previous Experience” section.
Resume Killer #5: Controversial Special Interests
Including a “Special Interests” section at the tail end of your resume is a good way to offer a glimpse of the person behind the qualifications. Just be sure to avoid mentioning anything that could alienate. Decision-makers can, and will, dismiss your candidacy if they’re offended by something in this section.
Examples of great details you can include: sports activities, family activities, community volunteering, hobbies.
Examples of details you should avoid: religious activities, political activities, sexually explicit or other “R-rated” activities (should go without saying, but you’d be surprised!)
Getting strategic with your resume is the key to landing more interviews. Be aware of the pitfalls, but don’t let them dissuade you from boldly going after what you want. Good luck!
About the author
Anish Majumdar, CEO of ResumeOrbit.com is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, LinkedIn expert, and interview coach. Surveyed clients report a 40-60% reduction in placement times through working with him, and typically secure offers at least $10-40K higher. Schedule a free LIVE Resume Critique with Anish, or connect with him on LinkedIn.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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