5 Hidden Resume Killers!

You may think you have the perfect resume, but you keep getting overlooked for all kinds of positions, and you can’t figure out what’s happening!  Perhaps you are sabotaging yourself in ways you don’t recognize.

Almost everyone is aware of obvious job search killers in resumes, such as spelling and grammatical errors; however hidden mistakes often end up costing you the interview when you have an otherwise solid resume. Protect yourself from being misperceived out of a job opportunity by carefully reviewing your resume for hidden killers.

1.  Highlighting Political or Religious Affiliations

Many people fill their time with charitable work and, in the process, make some strong community contacts.  Great idea and very fulfilling, most likely, but if that organization is your local church or political action group, you may be sabotaging yourself if you include this in the resume.  Just the mere mention of such groups may subconsciously create a negative response in the reader.  Don’t place yourself at risk for potential discrimination or a negative first impression because of an association with a group that may not align with the values of hiring managers.  We all know it’s not ethical, but better to protect yourself, than be naïve and lose another opportunity.

2.  Explaining Employment Gaps with too much Personal Information

Although it is critical to be honest about gaps in your employment history, exercise caution about giving too much personal information or suggesting that your personal life may overwhelm your work life.  Be brief and succinct in explaining any gaps in your personal work history, and be aware that caretaking for elderly parents, for example, is becoming much more common. Career change or geographic moves may be part of necessary family caretaking decisions, which could also be important to explain in your resume. However you don’t need to provide a lot of detail regarding the emotional toll and investment of time such caretaking has taken.  The explanation doesn’t need to suggest you have been consumed by personal obligations, hinting that personal obligations may be more important than your work life.

3.  Broadcasting Weaknesses

Everyone has skill deficits or areas where his/her work could improve.  However, by over-emphasizing these deficits or appearing nervous about them, you are likely to sabotage the strengths identified in your resume.  Being honest doesn’t mean you have to hang your head and kick at the floor like a school child; it’s likely you feel worse about these shortcomings than necessary.  Emphasize your strengths and practice a response to express information about potential weaknesses. What is it that bothers you so much about this particular deficit when you likely have other strengths? You don’t need to be “all things to all people in order to land the job”, and feeling shameful about deficits can only work against you.

4.  Too Many Positions within the Same Time Frame

Sure, you may have worked 2 or 3 jobs in college, but later in one’s career, this may send a message that you are scattered, unfocused, or worse yet, not committed to your primary field of interest.  Potential employers want to know that you are working toward company goals with the same level of energy that they are, rather than being tired and distracted. Review the job history realistically.  You cannot misrepresent your work experience, but try to look at “your story” during that time of your life.  If there were a number of part-time positions pieced together out of financial necessity, be certain to identify the positions as part-time. Perhaps the positions included experiences for certification.  If so, mention it – this denotes a commitment to professional growth, and more clearly explains seemingly dual, simultaneous employment.

5. Over-emphasizing Periods of Self-Employment

Many potential employers question your ability to be a team player if you are accustomed to being the boss yourself.  It may also intimidate hiring managers or suggest that you are over-qualified, if you have labeled yourself President of your own company.  Again, don’t be deceitful, but be cautious regarding labels. Describe creative development skills associated with self-employment in ways that will benefit the prospective employer, such as market analysis, client development, or full P&L.

Increase your own awareness of potential “resume killers”, and you will be well on your way to eliminating obstacles to employment.  Resumes can communicate in many more ways than just using words.  The nuances of a resume are similar to body language – people get the message even if not overtly expressed.  Rid your resume of hidden killers and move ahead in your job search!

Author: Alesia Benedict

What to Include on Your Resume

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Many job seekers feel the need to present a broad view of skills in order to qualify for a variety of positions and want to add in everything but the kitchen sink!  Discerning what to include and what to exclude can be a difficult task.  Don’t despair — here are some points to help:

Don’t Try to Include Too Much Information

Most hiring managers currently aren’t interested in a resume that goes back more than 15 years. In fact, including a lot of significant accomplishments from early in your career could backfire by inadvertently emphasizing the lack of recent accolades. Start by paring down to the essentials.

Each section in a resume has to reinforce your strengths and serve multiple purposes because of limited space. Many readers will not continue because of the time required to sort through the resume.

Package the Resume with Effective Position Titles

Be as specific as possible and consider changing the title as needed to fit the current job search.  With a well-rounded resume you probably won’t need to create an entirely separate resume for each application.  In addition, the broad range of skills can also make you a more valuable candidate.

Compare these two opening titles:  Software Developer vs. IT Professional.

There are pros and cons to the use of each type of title. The more specific title of Software Developer may unintentionally limit your search. However, greater specificity can also give you a leg up on the competition because it helps the hiring manager see exactly what opening your qualifications fit.  The more general title of IT Professional may help you in being considered for a number of positions, although you may stand out less from the competition. If you are applying to a broad range of positions and feel you won’t be able to modify the title for each position, you may be better off using the more general title.

Do Include a Brief Company Description

A brief company description provides a context to help the reader understand your accomplishments and it saves valuable real estate on the resume since you only state it once. Look at the 2 examples below to see the difference between a traditional approach and a powerful one.

Logistics Manager 2010 – Present
ABC Successful Company, New York

Duties included planning daily schedules to achieve production goals. Supervised plant personnel in US and Mexico to maintain on-time delivery.  Balanced budget. Trained and supervised office, plant, and management positions. Responsible for P&L oversight, analysis, and reporting. Increased sales and reduced costs. Expanded business.

ABC SUCCESSFUL COMPANY, New York, New York – 2010 to Present
Global multi-million dollar sprocket manufacturer, applying lean manufacturing principles in 100 factories throughout North and South America.

Logistics Manager
Orchestrate all aspects of daily schedules, remotely managing 13 sites through direct supervision of plant managers. Analyze production to reach weekly targets and maintain budget and delivery schedules. Command full P&L oversight, analysis, and reporting. Utilize participative management techniques to facilitate communication and shared ownership, while developing staff to potential.

How you choose to package your experience and skills is just as critical as your talent and expertise. If a hiring manager is unable to get excited when reading the resume, you are unlikely to get called for the interview. You have a lot of control over how the reader will react to your resume. Make your achievements shine by effectively organizing your resume and you are likely to be preparing for an interview! Good luck and stay positive!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Five Reasons You’re Not Getting Job Interviews

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC GetInterviews.com

Equity Research Associate, New York, NY
Management Consultant, Nationwide
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Pre-MBA Private Equity Associate, Boston, MA
Investment Banking Analyst, San Francisco, CA

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It’s a tough market out there. Not only is unemployment high, but the regular flux of the market has stilled somewhat as people hang on to jobs and paychecks rather than seeking advancement or relocation. Don’t make your job search any tougher than it needs to be. Evaluate your efforts to see if you’ve made any of the following mistakes.

1 – Your resume and cover letter are not written aggressively. Most people only capture job duties and responsibilities in their resumes. That’s just not enough to gain attention in these tough market conditions. Your resume and cover letter must be written to grab the interest of the employer or recruiter, plus win high rankings in applicant tracking systems and online resume databases. A great resume is powerfully written with strong industry keywords; it details specific accomplishments and brings in measurements of performance wherever possible; and it is focused and relevant to the targeted position. A poorly written resume can be a significant hindrance in winning interviews.

2 – You are limiting your efforts to answering online job advertisements on fewer than ten job sites. Fishermen know when fishing is poor, they have to cast a wider net. The same goes for job search. If you are limiting your efforts to a few online job sites, you miss out on a majority of the market. A strong job search will include not only big job boards, but also networking, targeted communications, and creative career marketing. Don’t ignore job boards but don’t limit yourself to just online ads for your marketing efforts.

3 – You are not targeting specific companies first. Most jobs are never advertised anywhere. They are filled from within, filled from employee referrals, or filled from prospective candidates whose resumes are already in the company’s database. If you are only chasing advertised positions, you are behind in the race right from the beginning. Generate a list of companies for which you would like to work and get your resume and cover letter to all of them. Build a consistent marketing campaign targeting these companies and build a knowledge base on their operations, their missions, challenges they face, and markets in which they operate. Use this information to market yourself to the needs of the company. In your communication, always speak to how you can be valuable to the company and how you can meet their needs.

4 – You ask your network if they know of any job openings. The question “Do you know of any open positions?” is a yes or no question. Once you get a “no” from your network contacts, you have exhausted your efforts, right? If you feel like you have a limited reach in your network, it is because you are asking the wrong question. You should be asking your network contacts for information about specific companies.  As you work your network, you will build a significant knowledge base that will eventually lead to specific contacts within companies and give you insight that will be valuable in your marketing efforts. Asking for information instead of asking about open jobs also makes networking easier! You don’t put your network contacts in the uncomfortable position of not being able to help. If you have ten different companies you are researching, more than likely your contact will be able to give you some kind of information on at least one of those companies. You actually make it easier for your network contacts to help you!

5 – You are not following up on your efforts. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. You must be a squeaky wheel. When employers get hundreds of applicants for a single opening, the five percent who take the trouble to follow up and keep following up will stand out in the crowd. You want to be in that five percent who rise above the masses. Sure, it’s an extra step and it sometimes feels superfluous, but it is not wasted effort. You are not being a pest or bothersome. You are demonstrating you have an interest in the company and an ongoing interest in being considered for employment. Make some noise and be sure to follow up on your resume submissions.

Job search takes a lot of effort. With unemployment near double-digits, there are a lot of candidates in the market. The ones who get results are the ones who put forth the extra effort to conduct a smart, complete job search.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!