A job seeker who’d been in the career game for many years recently contacted me, perplexed at why his application wasn’t even getting a sniff from recruiters. He’d been diligent at keeping his resume up-to-date, from consistently adding every job he’d had in the past 20 years to methodically listing all of his personal achievements. Although this was the first time he’d actually had to put his resume ‘out there’, as most previous job changes had been via referrals or long-term employment opportunities.
This job seeker, who soon became a client, was completely unaware of how much job application standards and expectations have changed, particularly in regards to resumes. Gone are the days when you could draft up one generic resume that could be sent to a range of potential employers across various industries. Below are five of the most common errors to avoid, if you want to ensure your resume gets you through to interview stage.
- Sending out a ‘one-size-fits-all’ resume: Recruiters and potential employers expect to see resumes that have been fully customised for their current vacancy. For example, there’s no benefit in telling an IT organisation about your strengths in hospitality. Your resume should immediately emphasise your IT capabilities, in line with what that organisation is seeking.
- Specifying your career objective: Recruiters and potential employers are far more interested in how your experience and skillset is going to benefit them, rather than knowing what your personal career objective is. By all means, highlight your enthusiasm to continue to professionally develop, but ensure it’s in a way that’s going to benefit that specific organisation.
- Listing soft skills & standard responsibilities: Let’s face it, anyone can say in their resume that they’re a ‘great communicator’ or a ‘hardworking employee’ – soft skills like these (and standard responsibilities – e.g. filing or answering phones) aren’t going to help your job application stand out. Instead, provide evidence of what you’ve personally achieved in previous roles and how this could be of identifiable benefit to the prospective employer.
- Including superfluous information: Unless you’re applying for a job within a fitness organisation, most employers don’t really want to know that you run most weekends. They’re also unlikely to want to know that you worked part-time in a milk bar 20+ years ago, prior to finishing uni. Keep your resume specific to the role you’re applying for – don’t over-indulge in irrelevant details or your most significant information could be overlooked.
- Ignoring the importance of keyword optimisation: Many recruiters use online applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sift through an abundance of applications, so neglecting to keyword optimise could mean your job application isn’t even seen by human eyes. As part of the job customising of your resume, do your research and always include industry relevant and/or specific job ad terms.
Investing in a professionally written, keyword optimised and job customised resume and cover letter paid off for the perplexed job seeker referred to above. By showing what he could personally offer prospective employers based on what he’d already achieved, his job application began to stand out and eventuated in a positive career move.
Sarah Cronin Consulting, professional resume writing services, collaborates with job seekers to ensure their next chosen career step is professionally presented and successfully obtained. In addition to resumes and cover letters, we also design LinkedIn profiles, corporate biographies, selection criteria and other career documentation that ensures your career prospers. Contact us if you’d like to discuss your needs further.Tags: career development, job search, resume writing, resumes