By Anne Nowak
This article, previously posted by The Career Center, East Baton Rouge Parish Library, is part of a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make.
Regardless of what job you are looking for, you now need a resume. No big deal you think, there are plenty of templates available on the internet and if those don’t work out I’ll hire a resume writer. Let’s see what could go wrong:
1st blunder – one resume fits all. No, it usually doesn’t. Ideally you want to adjust your resume to each job you are applying for. Most times, it just needs little tweaks and not major rewrites. If you are applying through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), each resume needs to contain as many of the keywords in the job description as possible to make it through the ATS. Those keywords will differ from job to job.
2nd blunder – an unfocused resume. You have done a lot of good work in your life and you want every potential employer to see all you can do. That’s understandable, but you don’t want to drown the reader in irrelevant information. Be strategic about what you include in your resume. You want to stress those parts of your experience that are most relevant to the job you are applying for and minimize the experience that is not relevant. You also don’t want to go back too far in time. Normally going back about 15 years is customary. Resume space is at a premium; use it wisely. The reader will only spend a few seconds skimming it. Those few seconds need to be enough to convey that you have what they are looking for.
3rd blunder – no accomplishments. Everybody has accomplishments! Many job searchers don’t recognize their accomplishments and see it as “well, that’s just part of my job”. Don’t sell yourself short! Talk to colleagues and friends (or resume writers and career coaches) and let them help you identify what you do well. Then include those accomplishments in your resume.
4th blunder – not proofreading your resume. You have created a top notch resume, focused and filled with relevant accomplishments and keywords. You have read it a thousand times, so it must be okay, right? Too often it’s not. After working on a document for a while, you are not able to recognize the little typos and mistakes. Give your resume to a friend to proofread!!! Grammatical mistakes and typos will usually get you screened out right away. Recruiters will interpret it as carelessness.
5th blunder – not vetting a professional resume writer. Resume writing is hard, so you decide to hire a professional resume writer. There are a lot of excellent resume writers out there. There are even more poor ones! We have seen our share of poorly written resumes that job seekers have paid good money for! Anybody can call themselves a resume writer, so do your research. As with most things, word of mouth is best. Ask friends if they have been successful with a resume written by a specific resume writer. Also, check the resume-writer’s credentials. There are a number of certifications that resume writers can attain. Some of the best are:
- MRW – Master Resume Writer: only very experienced resume writers get this credential.
- ACRW – Academy Certified Resume Writer: this credential is given after a comprehensive certification class, exam and document submission for review.
- CPRW – Certified Professional Resume Writer: resume writers have to pass a test and submit a resume for review.
Resume writing includes substantial communication between the writer and the job seeker. If your resume writer does not ask you many questions, or only asks you to complete a standard written form and then doesn’t talk to you again, beware.