Imagine yourself standing outside a new restaurant skimming the menu posted to the left of the door.
You’re hungry and curious. You know what you’re in the mood for and as your eyes dart through the list of specials, you automatically zero in on keywords that pique your interest.
If you stumble upon the words deep fried chicken when you’re in the mood for fresh and healthy, chances are you’ll keep on walking, but if the menu matches the vibe you’re craving, all bets are on your opening that door and taking a seat.
Hiring managers and recruiters match your resume to job opportunities much like you match food cravings to a restaurant menu. At first glance, you’re either tasty or you’re not.
Once intrigued by your resume, a good recruiter will call, but what if they aren’t calling?
When headhunters look over copious amounts of resumes during job searches, they’re hungry and they’re skimming. They aren’t initially reading every morsel of your resume. That’s for later.
Here are 5 mistakes that make your resume unappetizing:
1. Putting a summary paragraph at the top.
According to Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn: “The average American attention span in 2013 was about 8 seconds- the average attention of a goldfish is 9 seconds.”
Summary paragraphs are outdated and unnecessary, they’re literally extra fluff to wade through by someone with an attention span of a goldfish. Worst of all, they pigeon hole you and often negate a call. Your resume should speak for itself. Most people don’t read summary paragraphs, they go right to the meat and bones of the resume: where you’ve worked and what you’ve done.
Worse yet, a summary paragraph is limiting. Trying to fit an entire career’s worth of attributes into one paragraph is impossible and diminishes your worth. You might be ready for the next step in your career based on past responsibilities, but a summary only summarizes your past, not your present potential.
2. Leaving out the months on your dates of employment.
Maybe you started your last job in December of 2010 and left in January of 2011. Do that math. Get the picture? Months matter.
When you leave out partsof your history, hiring managers begin to wonder what else you’re hiding. Do this with every job on the resume, (which is the case for most who do this in the first place) and you’re deleted. Details matter.
3. Hiding anything.
People who are good at what they do tend to go on their gut feelings. Ask any successful CEO or person in a place of power, sometimes factual points aren’t enough to make a decision, gut feelings are invaluable. Successful people know when you’re hiding something because they’ll feel it.
Let me remind you: in today’s digital world, it’s impossible to hide ANYTHING.
The truth always comes to light, so it’s far better to include a job gap, lack of degree, or short tenure than to attempt hiding it. The minute you’re caught hiding something, your credibility goes right out the window – regardless of explanation- Poof!
Reasonable people understand that life happens, so be upfront and honest on your resume. Simply put in parenthesis next to your dates the reason for your short tenure or job gap.
4. Making things complicated.
Putting your achievements in one clump at the bottom or top of your resume is a bad decision. If we lose interest early on, the bottom of your resume may never be seen.
List your achievements and awards bullet by bullet under each appropriate job and title.Don’t create long paragraphs of explanation, keep it concise and to the point. Making a hiring agent search for your information is counter productive.
5. Creative or Omissive writing.
Don’t try to make yourself into something you’re not.
Put your working title on the resume. If you’re a sales rep carrying a business card with the title of Regional Manager, admit you’re a sales rep on the resume. If you’re a 1st level Regional Manager responsible for sales reps, please say so versus using an Area Director title regardless of your business card.
“There’s nothing more frustrating than having your time wasted thinking you’re about to call one type of employee, only to find out you’re not”.
If you have an unusual title, dumb it down on the resume so it’s “street savvy” and easily understandable. Think job function rather than title.
This same rule applies to age.If you’re over 50, don’t leave off your degree date in hopes of hiding it. If you’re going to be age discriminated against, they’re going to eventually do it on a face to face interview. You wouldn’t want to work for that type of company anyway.
According to MSN Money, national workplace expert Lynn Taylor says: “Trust is like oxygen in the workplace: we need it to survive”.
Your achievements and hard work over the years should stand on their own merit. Don’t hurt your credibility by trying to bluff your way into an interview.
6. Using mysterious titles.
If you are selling, title yourself by your working title- Sale Representative. If you are a 1st level manager, title yourself- Regional Manager. Your company business card may say you’re a Regional Territory Manager or Area Director, but if you’re not actually doing the function of those titles, you risk the chance of being passed over for jobs you might want. Same goes for Vice President and Regional Director roles. If your business card gives you those titles but you’re actually doing something else on a day to day basis, fess up and use your working title on a resume.
* And a bonus tip:
Don’t try to squeeze your resume on to one page if you have solid experience worth bragging about on paper. Recruiters and HR departments don’t fax anymore, so the length of your resume is unimportant. All that matters is that your achievements shine and your resume is honest.
Sending out resumes and hoping to be called back is a daunting task. Don’t let a poor resume cheat you out of a fair shot.
about the author: Tamara is a 27 year veteran in the medical sales arena and founder of TStar Recruiting, a nationwide search firm. She’s also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. She can be reached at TStarRecruiting@gmail.com
photo via Abrinsky