You know you’re qualified, so why isn’t your résumé generating interest? Here are nine possible reasons:
1. Your résumé isn’t targeted to a specific job.
If you are qualified for roles in different areas, that’s great. But don’t expect the hiring manager to figure out what you want or how you’d best fit their needs based on a jack-of-all-trades résumé.
What catches the eye of someone hiring a sales rep is different from what one hopes to see when searching for a production planner. Make it easy for them to see how you fit in their organization by creating a different résumé for each role you’re targeting. This doesn’t have to be a huge overhaul; some strategic tweaking usually does the trick.
2. You list your responsibilities, but not your accomplishments.
This is the biggest issue I see with most résumés. People use their job descriptions to write their résumés. What you did is just one part of the story. The better part—the part that differentiates you from the competition—is how well you did it.
What were your results?
Show potential hiring managers the value that you brought to past employers. They’ll think you can deliver similar value for them.
By the way, if you’re one of those people who thinks you don’t have any accomplishments—that you just went in every day and simply did your job—you’re probably undervaluing yourself. I can help you uncover the ways you made a positive impact and turn those ideas into compelling statements for your résumé.
3. Your formatting isn’t optimized for applicant tracking software (ATS).
While your goal is to get your résumé in front of human eyes, you’ll probably need to pass the ATS screen first.
Many employers use this software to help them comply with EEOC non-discrimination laws and to help weed out the many seemingly unqualified applicants.
Optimizing your résumé for this all-important screen means leaving out the characters and formatting elements that it doesn’t read correctly and using relevant keywords effectively.
4. You open with an objective.
Back in the day, résumés started with an Objective. If you, too, are old enough to use the phrase back in the day, you know what I’m talking about: “Seeking a challenging opportunity where I can apply my skills and contribute to a growing organization.”
Vague. Boring. A waste of valuable space.
Thankfully, best practices have evolved to better consider what hiring managers want to see first: a brief, at-a-glance summary of your job target and the value you offer. “Construction manager with 5 years of experience in leading commercial projects valued at more than $90M.”
Follow this opening with a short description of your most relevant qualifications and skills and your reader is already seeing the connection between his company’s needs and you.
5. You don’t provide context or scope.
Don’t leave the reader guessing about how much responsibility you had at previous jobs. Be specific and quantify wherever possible.
A store manager who writes “Managed retail store and supervised employees” gets a yawn. But “Managed a 7,000-sq. ft. retail operation specializing in family footwear with annual sales of $1.2M; trained and supervised 25 full- and part-time sales staff” well, now we’re painting a picture.
6. You used a template.
I’m sure the people at Microsoft think they’re being helpful by offering those free résumé templates, but you are not a one-size-fits-all commodity.
Don’t try to fit your career story into a pre-fabricated (and likely overused) template. Instead, start from scratch and use the blank page to your advantage.
7. Your page design is dated, boring, or hard to read.
An eye-pleasing design is interesting, and it invites potential employers to linger over your document. This means ample white space, a font choice that is easily read by both human eyes and applicant tracking software, a font size that doesn’t require screen adjustment or a magnifying glass, and formatting elements such as bullets and bolding to bring attention where you want it.
8. Your contact information is wrong/questionable.
This seems obvious, but it’s worth double-checking. When someone calls the number you’ve provided, does it connect? Is the voicemail message professional? Are you using your current employer’s email? (Hint: Don’t!)
9. Your résumé has typos.
This is a biggie for both ATS and human readers. Ask a competent proofreader to review your document before you send it.
Spellcheck is a good start, but it won’t catch everything. ATS won’t know that “manger” meant “manager” and HR folks can be more than a little judgmental about stray commas, unnecessary apostrophes, and random capitalization.
If you’ve tried making these principles work for your résumé, but you’re stuck on the how-to, contact me. I’d be happy to talk with you about your current strategy and offer suggestions. As a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, I have transformed hundreds of ho-hum documents into dynamic, keyword-infused, and attention-capturing résumés. You don’t need to—in fact, you shouldn’t—tackle this all-important project on your own.
To your success!
Linda Mulcahy, CPRW
Contact me for a quote on your new résumé.