When you’re looking for a job, your resume is your introduction to a potential employer. Whether you respond to a posted opening, post the document on a job site or hand out copies at a job fair — or all of the above — your resume should be concise, compelling, free of errors and up-to-date.
Unfortunately, some job seekers are relying on the resumes that they created years ago, adding new positions and achievements as they go. They forget to pay attention to the trends in resumes or what employers are looking for when they review their credentials. While their resumes might be near perfect, they could still be perceived as lackluster —and these otherwise qualified candidates don’t get the interviews they deserve.
Before you send out your next application, check to make sure that you haven’t fallen into any of these traps. Make changes if necessary so your resume makes it to the top of the pile.
The Objective Statement. In the not-so-distant past, it was important to include a statement of your career objective on your resume. Today, not so much. Employers aren’t interested in what you’re hoping to accomplish so much as they want to know what you can do for them. Instead of an objective statement, which can hurt your chances if it is too vague or unrelated to the job you’re applying for, use that space for a summary, listing your key skills and achievements.
Your Resume’s Length. Once upon a time, unless you had decades of experience, you were limited to a one-page resume. The result? Resumes that offered a vague overview of the candidate’s credentials in a cramped, hard-to-read format. Today, you have some breathing room. It’s acceptable for your resume to extend into two or even three pages —only if you have the experience to warrant it. If you’ve just graduated or have limited experience, don’t unnecessarily extend your resume.
Every Job You’ve Had. Keep your resume focused on the most relevant experience from the past 15 years. Think of your resume as an advertisement. If you were looking at an advertisement for a business school, you’d want to know about highlights such as the specializations offered, the faculty and whether the program is has programs like an AACSB accredited online MBA. There is no need to tell every detail about the program; you’ll get that information when you talk to an admissions representative or view the school’s website. Your resume should take the same approach. It should highlight your most relevant experience and not serve as an exhaustive list of every position you’ve ever held. If you have more than a decade of experience in your field, you don’t need to include the fact that you worked at McDonald’s when you were 17.
Your Resume Should Set You Apart. When computers were still relatively new in the workplace, it was important for job seekers to note on their resumes that they were computer literate. These days, it’s assumed that you know how to use basic software programs. If you have specific skills that others might not have, like programming or desktop publishing experience, include it but stick to the information that makes you unique as a candidate.
References. There’s no need to take up space letting them know that “references are available upon request.” If you’re a top candidate, you’ll be asked to provide recommendations.
In a tight job market, you need every advantage to stand out among the potentially hundreds of candidates for each open position. By tweaking your resume, you’ll stand a better chance of rising to the top — and landing a new position to add to the list.
About the Author: Olivia Tardiff works as a recruiter for a high-profile staffing firm. She is also studying part-time for one of the online Scranton University degrees relevant to her career goals.