You’ve spotted the perfect job. You’ve crafted a winning cover email, and you’re all ready to send off your application. Then you pull up your resume for a quick check before you attach it.
Disaster. Not only is it not specifically tailored to this application, it’s not suitable to send out at all.
Don’t let this happen to you! Be ready: Here are 5 signs that you need to refresh your resume.
Your current job isn’t on your resume
You’re not ready for job seeking yet! Your resume needs to reflect your work history, and while you don’t need to add loads of details for jobs that you held ten years ago, your most current role is the most important and the most relevant.
Many people don’t dig out their resume until they see the perfect job advertised. You need to act quickly to update it because job application deadlines come round faster than you realize! It doesn’t take long, but it will pay off to make sure that you have adequately represented your current and immediate past position.
Fix by: Spend some time updating your resume with your current position. Make sure that you focus on achievements and accomplishments and not on the responsibilities or duties of that role. Then go back and make sure you’ve got the same approach for previous jobs. It’s not helpful for a recruiter to know what your job should have involved. They want to know what you did in the job and how your contribution made the business better in some way.
You’ve got a long list of hobbies, interests, and references
When you are straight out of college, it can be beneficial to include your references and a section on interests to show employers what you are like as a person. But as you gain experience, that space on your resume is best kept for information that is going to get you hired.
Having said that, I know someone who got the job because they asked what she was most proud of and the candidate answered that she had climbed a mountain. It just so happened that the recruiter was also a climber. While that wasn’t the only reason why she landed the position, it helped make a connection and showed that the candidate would be a good fit for the team.
Fix by: By all means, include some details of what makes you interesting as a person, but keep it to a line or two at the bottom. It’s fine to include ‘References available on request’ or to include contact details in the covering letter. There’s not much space on a resume as you get more experience, so keep it for the details that matter most.
Your skills and characteristics are short bullet points
Oh no. Simply listing a whole bunch of skills doesn’t show an employer that you have them. Or even that you know what they mean!
Fix by: Pick your top 3-5 skills, the ones that you know are required for this job. Name the skill and then give an example of where you have demonstrated that in a recent position. Be specific about what you did (not what the team did) and the impact that had. Show action. Employers want examples that they can ask about in an interview. Ideally, your resume should open up plenty of opportunities for them to ask you more questions about a particular situation.
Your resume isn’t keyword-friendly
I know, this seems like gaming the system. It’s not. It’s simply making sure that you are using the language that is most appropriate for the position you are going for.
In many cases, candidates write detailed and explicit resumes that perfectly illustrate what they have done and what they are capable of. They still get overlooked for jobs. Why? Because the person reading the resume isn’t a subject matter expert. Initial resume screening is often done by an HR professional. They won’t understand the acronyms and subtleties of the language related to your area of expertise, and you wouldn’t expect them to. But that can mean that they struggle to interpret what you can do.
And let’s not get started on computer screening: when a machine is reading your resume you’ve got even less chance of making it to the top of the pile unless you are plugging words into your resume that the system is designed to understand.
However, keyword stuffing isn’t great either. You don’t want your resume to read like you’ve downloaded the job spec and copied and pasted the subject headings. It’s a balance: you want to show your experience using common terms without coming over bland.
Fix by: Write your resume for a generalist reader, not someone with specialist expertise in your area. For example, let’s say you chaired the project board meetings for your project. You could write: “Presiding Officer for project review sessions.” Or you could write, “I acted as chair for the project board meetings.” Stick with language that is going to be commonly understood and stay away from internal names for things.
Your resume looks tired
Did you last look at your resume when Arial was a fashionable font? Times have moved on. Today, many candidates use professionally-created templates or online services to present their resumes beautifully. If yours still prints in Courier New, then it’s time for a refresh.
Grammatical and spelling errors will also make your resume look poor quality, so watch out for them.
Fix by: Look at your resume with fresh eyes. What looks old-fashioned or dated? Can you fix it with a few cosmetic tweaks or does it need something more radical? Consider online resume tools that give you a standard, but professionally-designed template for you to enter your details.
Check out these 7 awesome tools for online resumes. It could be the difference between impressing a tired HR professional or finding your resume in the bin.
Finally, make time to proofread your resume, or get someone else to do it for you. This will help you catch those grammar errors.
Ready to take your resume to the next level? Triumph Strategic Consulting can help you prepare your application and source a position that’s a perfect fit for your next career move. Give us a call today.