Resumes are the most important documents that determine employability. They are deal makers and breakers when we go out to search for jobs. And since employment opportunities in our country are quite scarce, many young people try so hard to stand out through their resumes.
Although this is a good idea, we sometimes make errors that cost us jobs we have dreamed of since we were young. Some include unnecessary information that gives our anticipated recruiters biased perspectives while others pamper these documents with different colors, fonts and unprofessional pictures in a bid to impress the latter.
Also, in a recent extensive research, Ladders discovered that recruiters take an average of six seconds to skim through resumes. Surely this is such a short time to impress anybody and it’s worse off for job seekers who have the audacity to write into a second and even third page.
Among other issues, these are some of the shortcomings facing the quality of resumes in the job market. So what exactly can be done to make your resume the VIP ticket to any job opportunity in your career line? Read on.
What to do
1. State job-related experience only.
Most of us have that one carefully drafted resume that we use for every job application. Although efficient, it is not an entirely noble idea. Every job opportunity is unique and therefore, the resume should relate with each of these jobs. When applying for a job anywhere, you should know what specific skills are required and tune your resume in that direction. You might have organized a road trip for your course mates, but does this accomplishment relate to the accounting job you are applying for? Never include irrelevant experiences and positions, they are just a waste of space.
2. Include numbers.
Everybody is fascinated with numbers. That’s why we always ask, how much and how many and expect numerically estimated answers. If the only numbers in your resume are; your phone number and P.O Boxes then you need to do a lot of tweaking. Recruiters are impressed by measurable results. They want to see the number of projects you undertook while studying or the number of published articles related to your discipline, that you wrote. Numbers make it easy for them to know what specifically you have done.
3. Write an interest-oriented career objective.
This section is where most people inadvertently unload their ego. Use of words like hardworking, goal-oriented, focused, intelligent and vibrant, among others is very common and recruiters loath this self-appraisal attitude. Instead, you should focus more on stating clearly why you are interested in the job, what it means to you. Don’t waste your time proclaiming your values because ultimately, it’s your colleagues who will judge you.
4. Make it short and easy to read.
As I have said above, a resume is not the place to write your entire life story because no one wants to read about your boring life. Recruiters have piles of resumes to go through so it’s not advisable to give them a hard time. Also how you write matters. It’s a proven fact that short sentences are easy to go through than long one. Make yours short and precise. Make her/him enjoy reading your resume. Use bullets and numbering makes it even better
5. Show projects you have led.
Recruiters seek people who show readiness in taking control. They adore people with leadership qualities because they want to be sure that when they are not around, their businesses will run smoothly under your watch. Not only should you state your projects but also include the accomplishments you made as a group. Inform them how you led a group of workers in a campaign that tripled the sales of your company and you might as well get the job on the spot.
6. Simple fonts and resume format.
Using two or more fonts in a resume speaks ill about you. It shows that you depend more on the beauty of your resume than the content. You should use only one font type throughout the entire document to make it simple to read. Serif and Sans Serif fonts are the most preferable types because of their professionalism. That means Times Roman, Cambria, Arial, Calibri, and Helvetica. Stick to one all through.
7. Add links to your website or online professional profile.
The internet runs the world right now and it has become the last resort for anybody seeking information. When you have a personal website where you upload your academic and professional activities, you get a better chance to showcase your skills. I’m not talking about those funny journal blogs containing you campus escapades and adventures. I’m talking about a portfolio blog that showcases your skills, talents, designs, accomplishments and a lot more. Creating a blog is easy and free nowadays. If you don’t need a blog, you can create a professional profile on LinkedIn, a platform where you can connect with people from everywhere. It might even get you connections that will open doors for you. Just create your presence on the internet.
8. Include Keywords and phrases from the job postings.
As technology rapidly advances, more duties are being delegated to robots. Just the other day I discovered systems that scan through resumes and choose the best ones for consideration. This technology has been around for a while in developed countries and currently, Kenyan companies are have begun incorporating it. These systems identify resumes that have the most keywords and declare them more qualified among thousands of resumes. Therefore you should ensure you read the advert carefully, identify the specific details needed and edit your resume to accommodate these keywords. An example of a resume scanning system is Jobscan.
9. Invest time to go through your resume.
There is always that one tiny mistake you realize you’ve made after submitting a resume. Sometimes you even discover more mistakes than you imagined. Not that you failed to go through your work, you did but you didn’t do enough of it.
Read your resume every once in a while and check out for mistakes which by the way are many and I will mention some below. You can also give a friend or a professional to review it and tell you how you can improve. Get feedback and continue to make it more perfect for every job opportunity.
What are the mistakes you need to avoid?
1. Writing more than one page: Six seconds are allocated to skim your CV. There is not enough time to flip through pages
2. Orphan Words: these are words that occur alone in an entire line. Find a way to accommodate them in an almost full line of text. They break the flow of your work.
3. Creative emails: in Form 1, you thought it was awesome to use ‘hot hunk’ or “bootylicious’ in your email address. Boy, don’t you dare use that email in your resume.
4. High school and Primary school achievements. Unless you have been categorically instructed to include them, do not talk about them. You might meet a judging eye; for instance, you are asked how you got a pass in your course despite topping the country in KCPE.
5. Skills that everybody has: a total waste of space. Who doesn’t know Microsoft Word?
6. Jargon: heavy vocabulary is a no-no. Don’t ostentate you supercilious lexicon to a head honcho enervated by his stodgy job. You see what I did there? It’s vexing. Oops! I did it again
7. Overused words: hard-working, professional, people’s person, determined, fast learner, innovative, natural leader; the list is long. These words will make someone doze off. Instead, show these qualities using other means like through your interaction with people or through the projects you did etc.
8. Negative connotations: Your resume represents you. Since people don’t like associating with the pessimists, avoid words that bring negative thoughts. Words like aggressive which might be used to say something positive will do the very opposite. An aggressive go-getter; bad idea. Don’t even use go-getter.
9. References: Your resumes should not contain your references, their contacts, and addresses due to privacy matters. Write these details in a separate document which they will request. Also, don’t use the phrase “References available upon request” at the end of your resume, they are aware.
10. Repetitive experiences: I was manager here, then I was a manager there and then I was the manager the other place. Don’t do that, Mention Manger once and list all the places you were the manager.
11. Lies: this is the ultimate killer. If you can’t substantiate the accomplishments you claim in your resume then you have just dug a hole for yourself. Recruiters cannot forgive you for this. Don’t dare.
12. Grammar and spelling mistakes. This just shows how not serious you are and recruiters are looking for people who produce quality work. Go through your resume until you are sure it has perfect grammar and spelling
I hope you are now many steps ahead in perfecting your resume. Remember it’s all about making it simple for the recruiter and standing out among the rest. Prove that your interest in the job can only be surpassed by the value you can add to the business and you will get the job you want.
If you have any question or review, feel free to add it in the comment’s section. More tips are welcomed by the way. Thanks