Mistakes Job Seekers Make – Resumes

Posted by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran. Dorothy is a Career Coach Her programs cover: Career growth and enhancement, Career Change, Retirement Alternatives and Job Search Strategy.

What would a discussion about job seeking be without talking about the resume? The resume is the most tangible aspect to job hunting and seems to be the place everyone runs to first.

Creating an effective, powerful resume is within everyone’s grasp.
I’m going to focus this article not so much on a list of issues, but rather on a philosophical element that seems to be missing in the job seeker when putting together their resume. I will quickly list the most prevalent issues first, then get to the element I’m discussing.

•   The most common problems I see with resumes:
o   Too long. Longer than 2 pages; or it’s 2 pages with small font in an attempt to cram as much as possible in 2 pages.
o   Too vague. Uses vague terms, doesn’t really tell the reader what position they’re after or leaves you guessing what they actually did.
o   Says almost nothing. So brief it looks like they spent 5 minutes whipping it up. Suggests that either the applicant has nothing to offer, never really worked or is incapable of understanding their own assets.
o   Doesn’t really tell the story. Talks about responsibilities, nothing about accomplishments.

Now that we have that out of the way, I’d like to outline the philosophical aspect to this that I think will be far more helpful. The philosophical piece I’m talking about is this: you are selling yourself to a hiring manager. You have to appeal to the hiring manager, not only at a logical level, but also at an emotional one. Let’s break this concept down:
•   Selling Logically. You are selling yourself. You are trying to help the hiring manager solve a problem, which is that they have work that needs to be done. That work will help move the business forward in some manner. The logic you are appealing to with your resume is that they want to know the following things:
o   Do you have the background that would suggest you can perform the job?
o   Will you be able to perform in other areas of the business? I.e., can you either learn new things or have a depth to you that suggests you can work beyond this immediate scope of work?
o   Are you a risk? Risk can vary. The hiring manager would like to think you will stay on board long enough for it to be worth hiring you.
•   Selling Emotionally. Decisions to hire are like dating and marrying. Once the initial screening has taken place and they decide you might be worth serious consideration, the emotional part kicks in. As with any selling, there has to be a reason to consider buying in the first place (the logic), but the decision gets made at an emotional level. You are appealing to aspects like: avoiding pain – gaining pleasure – ease of doing things – solving a problem – being cool (ego) the list goes on.

When you are appealing to the emotional side of the decision, they want to know the following:
o   Will we like working with you?
o   Does your history suggest you perform well and consistently?
o   Will I/we work well with you?
o   Do you have a good work ethic? Shared values?
If you are truly thinking about this process and what the hiring manager is thinking about, then you need to do the following in your resume:
•   Use key words. If you are responding to a posting or a discussion, make sure you repeat some of the key words they use. Your resume will be found easier and will capture their attention.
•   Emphasize. Don’t just list your responsibilities, but put size, shape and texture to them.
•   Emphasize. Tell them about your accomplishments. They want to know you can deliver and just how well you work. Again, size, shape and texture by adding in things like volume, numbers, results, and commentary from higher ups, customers or peers.
•   Weave your story. Who are you? What are you known for? Make that obvious in your resume. Don’t make the hiring manager work to figure out how great you are. They don’t have the time to do that. Answer their questions before they toss out your resume.

Most of the time your resume is the first point of contact with your potential place of employment, which means you want it to capture their attention. Don’t be inhibited in letting it tell a powerful story – your story. We tend to be a bit shy when it comes to “blowing our own horn,” but you have to look at it differently. You aren’t bragging. There is a big difference between bragging and telling your story so it draws the manager in at both the logical and emotional level. If you don’t do it, who will?

By | 2012-12-04T09:35:21+00:00 September 27th, 2010|