The Colossal Resume Mistake You Need to Stop Making

Submitted your resume but failed to make it to the interview round yet again? You might be making this one fatal resume mistake. You see, hiring managers look at hundreds, sometimes thousands, of resumes. So you need to do one thing – STAND OUT! The biggest application killer is simply writing your resume in a way that makes you blend in with every other job seeker.

The goal of your resume is to make a compelling first impression. You need to help your personality and accomplishments shine through, not be a just another amalgamation of cliches and buzzwords that gets lost in the crowd (or pile).

You Need to Be In It To Win It

Everyone knows that getting a job involves jumping through a series of hoops. First you need to wow with a great cover letter and resume. Then make it to the shortlist. Then get invited to an interview – perhaps more than one – and then get the exciting letter, email or call offering you the job. The goal at each level is to get selected and move through to the next stage. When you submit a resume, your goal should be to make that shortlist pile – so you’ll need to giving the hiring manager a great reason to do that. 

Remember, a human being must see your resume in order for you to get a job interview. Resume-sifting bots and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) don’t make decisions about who gets an interview and who misses out. They do, however, identify resumes that are likely to be a close match to what the Hiring Manager wants. In particular, they look for keywords that are related to the skills and previous experience requested in the job ad or posting, so making sure you’ve addressed the hiring criteria is essential. 

But – if you think that simply inundating your resume with the right keywords is a way to an interview, you’re wrong. Once your resume has been “screened” by a machine, then it’s the Hiring Manager you’re going to have to impress.

Therefore, your resume has to make it clear that you understand what you do well, how you can help the employer achieve their goals and why you’re the absolute best candidate for the job.

Zombie Resume

No Hiring Manager wants to read a resume that has been written in ‘zombie speak’. Awful, terse, boring resumes filled with ambiguous, overused, cliched words and phrases. They’re tired of seeing people who are “passionate, fast learners” who have not taken the time to actually give them a “what’s in it for me”.

Unfortunately, the only thing 90% of  ‘zombie speak’ resumes do is to label their owners and the same as everyone else in such a boring way that every job seeker appears cloned. And that’s not you, is it?

Avoid This HUGE Resume Mistake

Let’s assume that you are applying for a Retail Sales role and your resume reads:

“Results and service-oriented sales professional with the goal to achieve overall store targets and objectives.” 

When you write about yourself this way, everything smart, cool, unique and human about you is lost.

The Hiring Manager can’t tell how you think or what makes you unique or what your career aspirations are. You sound like just another number in the herd of job seekers. Is that the message you really want to be sending? You are way too vibrant and amazing to represent yourself like that.

How to “Humanise” Your Resume

When you brand yourself in a human way, much more of your heft and personality come across:

“I got into Retail because of my interest in fashion and discovered I simply love the fashion retail industry. Since starting as a Sales Assistant, I have worked my way up to being Store Manager, in the process doubling the sales of my store by building a loyal clientele and brand fans. I just love our clients. I’ve built a base of ongoing repeat sales by being an expert at knowing what each one wants and building relationships with them so that they come back time and time again.”

When a Hiring Manager reads this they know your story, and it’s a great story! They know that you know your strengths and that you’ve gotten results – and results are what they want.

You see, it’s easy to replace ‘zombie speak’ in your resume with your own human voice and story.

You don’t need to write about yourself in the same boring, dusty writing style employers sometimes use when they write job ads. That’s the type of thing that gives hiring managers headaches when they look at your application. That’s the colossal resume mistake that stops you getting from A to B.

Resume Buzzwords to Banish

So, make a commitment now to banish these resume killer buzzwords from your resume. Words such as these:

  • Responsible
  • Creative
  • Strategic
  • Driven
  • Innovative
  • Analytical

In their place give specific, concrete examples of your achievements using language that illustrates your unique traits. A good way to remove these words is to think of specific times you used these skills and talk about them. 

If for example one of your key strengths is that you are driven, instead of using the word ‘driven’ in your resume give an example of how and the outcome. Reading that someone is driven doesn’t say anything about you as a worker. On the other hand, hearing that you, for example, planned out scheduled and inspired and managed a team that, together, went above and beyond to deliver a project on time, however, certainly does. It also says that you’re a great team manager – and member – and have fantastic leaderships skills without using those boring catchphrases.

Being an Individual

Don’t forget, it’s humans that decide which job applicants get interviews and which get  “No thanks” letters. It’s simple, humans cannot help being human. They respond to warmth, jazz, and personality whether they intend to or not. Give them a reason to smile and sit up and take notice when they read your resume.

Being an individual is also why it’s so important to make sure you tailor your resume for each job. Make sure you stand out – and show your human side – for each job you apply for.

Everybody brings something slightly different to the table. Embrace that. Show the employer that what you can bring is worth having. If you’re the same as everyone else, there is no reason to consider you over the other hundred or more applicants. Instead, show them that not hiring you could be a huge mistake.

Tell Us

Have you ever submitted a zombie resume? Is there another resume mistake you think is worse? 

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