Last week I reviewed fifteen resumes for blog readers and after speaking with them at length I found only five established a personal brand and corroborated it by showing how uniquely qualified they were for the jobs they were applying for. This statistical trend is consistent with the feedback I’ve gotten from talent acquisition specialists I am in close contact with.
Let me clarify this based on the two key sections of a resume.
Section One: The Professional Profile & Summary Statement section
Many professional and executive resumes begin with a Professional Profile or Summary Statement that is written like a run-on sentence and contiguous paragraph. The result being they are difficult to read and the points they try to make fail to stand out and often go unread. Upon questioning, I found out many were written this way because the writer preferred to conserve space to add more details somewhere else at the expense of making an impact with what was written here.
This is foolish since this is where the reader forms their first impression about you.
Another problem I see is many of these statements overemphasize the job seeker’s past without focusing on the positions they are applying for. This makes them come across as overqualified for the job they are being considered for, therefore the reader rejects the resume at this point without looking any further.
The most egregious error I find is commonality. As I go over a Profile or Summary statement point by point / sentence by sentence with someone I always ask two simple questions. One is “does this describe you and what you have to offer an employer.” The answer is almost always an emphatic “Yes.” The second question is “how many other candidates applying for this job can write this same sentence because it applies equally to them as well.” Not surprising, the response here is 60% to 85% of the competition.
The first impression I and most people skilled at screening resumes get is not the impression the writer intended. Rather than showcasing a uniquely qualified candidate for the job, the delivered message is “I’m one of X# of qualified candidates you can choose from.”
Section Two: The Experience & Career Progression section
Here too there are several misconceptions in the way many resumes are written. The most formidable ones, being a lack of context and validation.
What I often read is an overabundance of details and cliche accomplishments, much of which has little or no relevance to the job being applied for. Worse yet, the bullet point achievements are crammed together so tightly nothing stands out and the message gets lost or is never read.
The next common mistake in this section is repeating the same information job after job, making the reader think this is all you have to offer, when what you really desire is to be doing something different or new on your next job.
A killer mistake made by older job seekers is often going back far into the past when what you did 15 or more years ago has little relevance to the jobs you’re applying for. All you are accomplishing is allowing screeners to justify calling you overqualified which is often a code name for too old.
I also get turned off by many of the so called accomplishments I read because they only focus on qualitative facts without giving any specifics about how they were obtained and most lack any perspective about how much of an accomplishment they actually are.
As a courtesy I critique U.S. resumes and offer suggestions on how to improve them at no cost. firstname.lastname@example.org
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