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

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How to Handle Resume Gaps


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Job seekers often assume that in order to score the perfect job, one has to be the perfect candidate.  That the right mix of education, titles, and skills is needed in order to land the career of their dreams.  So when faced with resume gaps, an individual may rightly feel disheartened.  But continuous employment is not the be-all, end-all to nabbing a great job, especially in these times.  It is important, however, to know how to treat employment gaps on your resume, in your cover letter, and in your interview.

The Functional Format

One way to gloss over gaps on your CV is to create a functional resume.  This focuses on your skills and achievements, rather than on specific dates.  There are certainly other advantages to formatting your resume this way as well, as it allows you to pinpoint exactly what it is that you bring to the table.  The trick here is to tailor it to the specific job that you are applying for.

List Your Achievements

Another way to downplay a gap in employment is to highlight your accomplishments on your resume.  While you may not have continuous experience, various honors will convey that you have quality experience, and that you have been recognized as having done an outstanding job.

Include Extracurricular Experience

Hiring mangers understand that qualified candidates may have gaps in employment.  What they want to avoid, however, is a candidate who is qualified but who lacks work ethic.  What did you do while you were out of a job?  Did you volunteer or become an active member of an organization?  Even though you weren’t necessarily paid for your extracurricular activities, it’s perfectly okay to list them.  Highlight your transferable skills here, and focus on how you can apply them to the position you are currently seeking.

Explain Your Reasons

It also works well to just come out and explain why you have a resume gap and what you did to fill your time.  Don’t be afraid to address the matter in a cover letter or an interview.  Hiring managers will respect your willingness to be forthright about periods of unemployment, and will be interested to learn about the creative, productive ways in which you were able to spend your time instead.

In a time where everyone’s looking for an edge, an employment  gap can seem like a major setback.  But if you know how to strategically position yourself and your experience, a hiring manager will be much more interested in what you have done, rather than what you haven’t.

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

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