Ask LH: What's Wrong With My Resume?

Dear Lifehacker, In the last few years I have found my career veering off into a very different industry to the one I had hoped to enter. I had hoped to get into the IT/online industry but have found myself somewhat stuck in retail operations). I have been applying for a number of jobs that I believe I am qualified for but am receiving almost no responses.

Given the fact that I meet all of the requirements but am getting no responses, I have to believe there is something wrong with my resume, although all the friends/colleagues I have shown it to tell me it is fine. How am I supposed to fix whatever it is that I am doing wrong when I cannot get any feedback from the companies rejecting my applications? I've attached my resume and would welcome any feedback you can offer. Thanks, Pro-In-Waiting

Resume picture from Shutterstock

Dear Pro-In-Waiting,

Resume editing can be tough, but there are some fixes you can implement. We're not going to publish your resume in full here (that would be a horrible breach of privacy), but we can suggest some areas where you could easily improve it.

Try and keep it to a single page. Reading through resumes takes time, and multi-page documents make the task seem harder for harried managers. Yours runs at two pages, which isn't shocking, but if you can make it more compact, that will be beneficial.

Don't list contact details first. Your skills and qualifications are more important than how to get hold of you — if an employer is interested, they'll check for those details on your cover letter or towards the end of the resume. (That said, including your mobile and email address in the header, as you did, is a sensible move.)

Use specific examples. Your list of key strengths starts off well in this area, specifying exactly which software you have experience with. However, your discussion of business skills is too vague: "Proven ability to see beyond just the numbers in a data set to the underlying meaning that has seen me called upon to assist across many departments at all levels." Give a more specific example: "I identified problems in our processes which led to a 10 per cent productivity improvement." You have examples like this under your Achievements sections for individual jobs, but they should be more prominent.

Don't use the same level of detail for every job. It's questionable whether you need to list every job you have worked in. You definitely don't need to string out 'achievements' in roles that aren't particularly relevant to the job you are applying for. Focus on those areas that demonstrate relevance to the role you're seeking.

Don't use ampersands (the & symbol) in body text. Yes, that's being picky. It's important to make a resume look concise, but using abbreviations of this sort can make it seem too casual.

One important overall point is that your resume is not a fixed document. You should keep a master resume and then customise it for each job you apply for. Check each detail and ask: "Will knowing this improve the odds that this employer might hire me for this particular role?"

We'll conclude with a related important reminder: your cover letter or introductory email is more important than your resume. That's your first chance to persuade an employer that you might be worth hiring. You also need to rewrite it every single time, to ensure you're addressing the exact criteria the ad refers to.

Good luck with the job search!

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Hire a professional resume writer. You likely only need to do it once and you'd be amazed at the results. Without a doubt worth every cent.

      Do not take this advice. Professional resume writers, write resumes to cover every job by using a basic overview rather than specifics. They don't focus on a particular job, which is very important when certain skills are required.

        Depends what you ask for. Often what looks good to the lay person would be easily ignored or overlooked by a potential employer.

        Of course you can tweak as necessary for different applications but the services of a resume writer can be extremely useful if you're not very good at writing resumes that get results.

        I've done it twice, and it was absolutely worth it. Professionals know all the tricks recruiters use and can help you get the best results.

    is this advice tailored specifically to the us market? because i have found in australia at least, that having the cover letter being the tailored 'in' to the prospect reviewer is a far better approach than having a bunch tailored resumes. i suppose as always ymmv

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