Even veteran professionals with years of experience struggle with crafting resumes that stand out from the crowd. Our troubled economy has led to companies tightening their belts, downsizing operations and scaling down recruitment. Add to this the fact that university degrees have become the norm rather than the exception, and you have an excess of qualified talents and not enough jobs to go around.
This is the reality for most countries around the world today. It’s no longer enough to have a good tertiary education and relevant skills and experience — what matters most is the impression your resume makes on the recruiter. Presentation, relevance of content, clarity, personalisation — these are critical factors commonly overlooked by job applicants which determine the fate of the resume.
Are you guilty of the following mistakes? It might be why you’re not getting interviews.
1. No intro statement
This is one of the most commonly overlooked elements of a resume — the intro statement. An effective resume should start with a clear and concise intro statement. Besides giving the recruiter an overview of your professional background, it should highlight who you are as a person. This means focusing on what drives you and what you’re passionate about. It should humanise the resume, so that recruiters can relate to you on a deeper level.
2. Information overload
You might have 10 years of experience, but you don’t need to list every little detail down. Information overload causes the reader to disconnect and lose interest. Less is more. Keep the resume simple, concise and relevant to the job you’re applying for. Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes (or ask an unbiased friend to review your resume), and be honest with yourself. Is it interesting and/or relevant? If not, hit delete.
3. Vague achievements
Be as clear and specific as possible when it comes to describing your achievements. Stay away from weak verbs such as “managed” and “coordinated” — these words are too general. Use strong verbs such as “initiated”, “spearheaded”, “supervised”, etc, and wherever possible, use numbers to quantify achievements. Saying you increased sales by x% or achieved 24-hour turnaround time from the previous 3-day standard gives the recruiter a much clearer illustration of your capabilities.
4. Lack of personality
The recruiter is often looking for hints of a candidate’s personality in the resume, besides the usual skills and experience. Apart from your achievements and education, what do you want the recruiter to take away from reading your resume?
What is the one thing you want them to associate with you? It might be your attention to detail, artistic flair, entrepreneurial talents, or something else. If you’re not good at writing, hire a professional copywriter to do it for you. Your resume has one simple but important job: to land you that interview.
5. Irrelevant content
Keeping the resume concise and on point increases your chances of keeping the recruiter interested enough to read through the entire resume, instead of losing them after the first 5 minutes. Minimise your use of technical jargon as much as possible — jargon often tends to be vague and confusing, which causes the reader to tune out and disconnect.
Always look at it from the recruiter’s perspective — does the particular work experience relate to the job application in any way? If the skills are irrelevant to the job you’re applying for, a short summary will suffice. Focus on the most pertinent information upfront and keep the rest short and sweet.
6. Poor readability
Is your resume full of long, wordy paragraphs? Are you making use of bold and italics formatting to highlight keywords and phrases? Is there sufficient spacing between sections and paragraphs to keep it clean and comfortable on the eyes? Is the font size too big or too small?
Readability is a crucial factor in keeping the reader engaged. You need to make the resume as easy and effortless to navigate as possible — the reading experience is just as important as the quality of content when it comes to making a positive impression.
7. Spelling & grammatical errors
Last but not least, always use spell check, and get it proofread and edited before you send it in. There’s nothing more unprofessional than submitting a resume that’s full of spelling and grammatical errors. It’s sloppy, and it tells recruiters that you don’t care enough to run it through a spell check.
If you’re not sufficiently proficient in English, get a friend to help you, or, as mentioned before, hire a copywriter to do it for you. You can always explain it during the interview. Your potential employer will appreciate your commitment and efforts, which will surely score you bonus points. Remember, your resume has only one job: to get your foot in the door.
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