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Advice from a recruiter: Three reasons why your resume is actually hurting your job search

African American Business woman looking at resumesAs recruiters, we see countless resumes come across our inboxes daily, most of which are lacking – not only in substance, but in strategy, presentation, and value. It’s important for job seekers to understand that while unemployment numbers are relatively low in the U.S., the market for qualified, top-performing candidates is as competitive as ever.

Your resume is often your introduction to a recruiter or hiring manager. Decisions are made about your candidacy within the first few seconds of viewing your resume, so it makes sense that you do everything you can to put your best foot forward. By extension, the same advice applies to your LinkedIn profile.

While every person’s background is unique, many job seekers make the same common mistakes when preparing their resumes:

Your Resume Lacks Focus

Are you using your resume to apply for different types of jobs in different fields? That’s a problem.

The main job of your resume is to prove to a recruiter or prospective employer that you have the potential to be a strong candidate for a specific type of position. Your best strategy is to create a laser-focused resume that provides ample evidence of your qualifications for the job you are seeking. By refusing to limit your resume to a single role, you run the risk of appearing scattered.

While it may seem to make sense to “keep your options open” when conducting a job search, this approach is counterproductive and results in a weaker resume. Employers want specialists who can achieve goals and solve problems associated with the role they are trying to fill.

If you create a resume that tries to address multiple roles in several industries, then you will have a difficult time competing against candidates who have limited their focus to a specific type of position. When you try to appeal to everyone, you will end up appealing to no one.

Your Resume Doesn’t Show Value

Resumes that contain only job descriptions rarely sell. If you are a CFO and seeking a similar position, the chances are high that most people reading your resume will know your basic responsibilities. There’s no need to provide a detailed laundry list of your day-to-day job duties. Instead, recruiters and hiring managers want to see how well you’ve performed your responsibilities.

Center your resume on your significant outcomes and achievements, and not on your tasks. Sure, a CFO’s responsibility is to oversee the financial and accounting functions of a company. That’s understood, and if you do not elaborate further, then you are missing an opportunity to present your value.

Consider:

Did you improve the company’s financial operation? Did you increase efficiency, lower costs, or streamline processes? How did you do it? How much money did you save? Did you leave the company or department in better shape than when you found it? Did you achieve the core objectives of the position?

Without answering the above questions, you are failing to provide the reader a sense of the value you are bringing into a position. If your resume does not demonstrate your worth, then it needs to be rewritten.

Your Resume is Unprofessional

Substance, of course, is the most important component of your resume, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore details. If your resume is cumbersome, cluttered, and sloppy, you are giving hiring managers a reason to pass you by and move on to the next candidate.

Neatness counts! Make sure your resume is easy to read, aligned properly, and appealing to the eye. You do not need to use a fancy graphics program or search for artistic fonts, but you do need to make sure the resume is inviting and clean. Do not try to cram too much information onto a page. Leave some white space for readability and use reasonable margins.

And while you’re at it, make sure to proofread your document. While this should go without saying, there are too many resumes being submitted with typos and simple grammatical mistakes. After you’ve proofread your resume twice, ask a friend or colleague to review it as well. You will be surprised at what you’ve overlooked.

Building a powerful resume requires time and effort. Be sure to revisit your existing resume to see if you can improve it by adding focus, value, and clarity.

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