For job seekers, a resume is a vital tool to get them noticed by potential employers. This document is used to convince them that you're perfect for the job on offer. But most resumes get a quick skim before they are tossed to one side, even if the job candidate may be the right fit. Hiring managers are often swamped with resumes so it's impossible for them to carefully assess every single one and most of them are swiftly discarded. Here are five reasons why your resume may fail to garner a closer look.
#1 Your job titles are vague
You may have loved your job title of "code ninja" at your previous company but understand that the person who reads your resume first may not know what the heck that is; if you're applying for a job as a developer, your resume might be placed in the reject pile.
Quirky job titles are fun but they have no place on a resume. Not only do they fail to adequately convey what you actually did in that role, but they may also have negative connotations that you'd want to avoid. It's okay to change your official title at your old gig to something that is easier to recognise.
This isn't just a problem isolated to whacky job titles. Even something like 'Content Manager' can be confusing to people who are unfamiliar with this type of role.
There is only one way to make your job titles sound less wishy-washy: add context. How do your previous roles relate to the one that you're applying for now? Include a snappy sentence next to your title to explain this.
#2 You use a one-size-fits-all resume
Putting together a resume is hard work so it's understandable why you'd want just create a generic document that you can re-use for every job application. Unfortunately, that simply doesn't cut it anymore.
Every company has different requirements and they can often be very specific. What you need to do is study the job listing carefully and tailor your resume to match the requirements. According to recruitment agency Staff Masters:
"This means writing an objective statement exclusively for the job, revamping your bullet points to highlight your applicable qualifications, and maybe even restructuring the format to ensure the most relevant information is at the top of the page."
#3 Your resume is ugly
You can have the best experience and skills for an advertised job but if your resume isn't visually appealing, you're never going to get a chance to prove yourself.
Fonts and layouts matter. Word vomiting on a resume isn't going to get you your dream job.
Here's some advice from career expert Dena Bilbrew on how to make your resume look better:
"You have to make your resume visually appealing to get the employer’s attention. Print out your resume and hold it up at arm’s length. Are you drawn to your own resume? Would you read it? Would you call yourself for an interview? If you’re not drawn to your own resume an employer won’t be either. "To make it visually appealing spread things out and take up the entire page so that there’s not a lot of white space. Enlarge your headings so employers can navigate through your resume quickly and find the information they need. Try putting lines in between each section also to make them “pop.” Also bold your job titles and degrees — not the company name or school attended."
Recruitment agency Windsor Resources suggests using one font for your entire resume to keep the look of the document consistent. Please avoid using Comic Sans. Please.
#4 You didn’t include keywords
Hiring managers are usually inundated with resumes so they will often use specialised software to scan documents for keywords that are relevant for the role that is on offer. The software will automatically toss resumes that don't contain enough keywords.
It's in your best interest to include these keywords whenever you can in your resume, but how do you find out what they are? According to Staff Masters:
"Find these keywords by carefully reviewing the job description, highlighting terms and phrases used multiple times throughout the copy. Work them into your resume a few times in a manner that sounds natural and flows smoothly."
#5 You don't ask for help
It's hard to spot mistakes or shortcomings in your own resume. You've probably spent hours slaving away on it and you're completely over looking at it again.
It's time to recruit help from a friend or somebody you trust to assess your resume. According to job advice blog The Muse:
"Send your resume to a friend, and ask what roles he or she thinks you’re applying to, based on what she sees. If she says something completely different, you know you have some work to do. And before you say 'But wait — my friend knows nothing about my work!' remember that the first person reviewing your application might be a recruiter, an assistant, or someone else who doesn’t know the ins and outs of your field. So a set of unbiased eyes might be even better than an industry insider."