The following is by Contributing Writer Erica Concors

I have been working as a résumé writer and consultant for Let’s Eat, Grandma for about 4 months now; in such a short period of time, I have learned so much about reviewing and writing résumés.

This blog is going to expose the two most common mistakes I have seen for far. The following tips will help you immensely while crafting your résumé:

INCONSISTENT FORMATTING

The first thing I notice when I look at a résumé is formatting. Can I find the most important information without having to work too hard? Does the résumé catch my eye and draw me in for more? Can I see a story on the résumé, or an organizational structure of some sort? These are just the initial questions anyone who gets their hands on your résumé will ask. And when this big moment comes we all want the answers to be yes, yes, and yes!

Remember, your résumé is a marketing tool and is often the first impression you have on hiring managers. You want to create a snapshot of who you are as a professional with highlights about your successes, experiences, and why you deserve to make it in the door.

The Fix:

With this being said, my advice is to make the viewing experience easy and even enjoyable for someone who has most likely seen hundreds or even thousands of résumés in their career.

Although it may seem fastidious, formatting is important on every level. From your header to the little details, such as dates, cities, bullet point sizes, font characteristics, and so many more. I also care a lot about details such as past versus present tense, so be sure that you’re using the correct one based on which experience you are discussing. These are the types of details that show you are paying attention to your writing and perfecting these speak volumes about your character.

In just an instant, you can either impress someone or turn them off completely. Being meticulous and consistent in your résumé formatting shows your attention to detail, and this character trait is among many others that will most definitely set you apart from your competitors. To recruiters, hiring managers, and even executives, someone who takes the time to produce quality work through perfectly formatting their résumé is someone who will put that same level of thought and effort into their job. So remember, even the smallest details can go a long way in landing an interview!

VAGUE, OVER-PROMISING CONTENT

A second thing that I notice on many résumés that I encounter is that they are “fluffed” with overly promising adjectives and character traits with no tangible evidence to back them. Remember, this is a chance to shine on paper, with severely limited space.

The Fix:

Be sure to highlight your most important skills and then exemplify them with real, tangible experience that employers can relate to and remember.

You are much more memorable when you say you “reduced automobile recalls by 6% in just 4 years through a case analysis about engine failure” than if you just say, “I am a very motivated and successful automobile engine professional.” The first example gives me as a reader something to remember, something to be impressed by rather than brush off as a meaningless generalization that anyone can write on their résumé.

I always love hearing and discussing success stories with clients, because I can hear when people lighten up with excitement and pride. Having strong bullet points on your résumé is a great way to help spark that conversation and bring that pride and emotion into your interview.

On another note about content, wordiness and elaborateness is also something I frequently encounter. Although many people may want to impress recruiters and executives with fancy language and sentence structure, it can easily go from impressive — to unclear and confusing. Oftentimes, the point being made can get lost along the way while trying to over-write on your résumé.

The Fix:

A trick that I use to avoid this is that I always start my bullet point sentences with a strong action verb.

In using such verbs, you will immediately give direction to your sentence and reduce your chances of straying from that direction. You most definitely can and should explore different vocabulary words, but situate them in very concise, clear and functional sentences. Your main goal with your bullet points is to show viewers what you have done, how you did it, what your goals were, and what the ending results were.

These key components are really what separate the vague, over-promising résumés from the ones that speak to your abilities without “trying too hard.” Remember that everything about your résumé speaks to something about your character and strengths.

When a recruiter reads your résumé and gets lost in a long run on sentence, they are also learning about your communication style, and they are learning that it may not be one of your strengths.

Your Take-Away:

First off, if you just finished reading this article in its entirety — kudos to you! You’ve already taken one step toward gaining a better understanding on how to write a better résumé. You can and should take this advice and start building a better résumé today. Overall, writing a powerful résumé is crucial to your career search. Knowing what recruiters, hiring managers, and executives do not want to see is just as important as identifying what they do want to see. But if I told you that there already was a professional résumé service that focuses exclusively on improving résumés, then you would have a real advantage over other candidates competing for the same position. And if I told you that there was an honest and hard working résumé company that actually would custom tailor your documents — that would be Let’s Eat, Grandma.

resume redline

Consider Professional Resume Preparation

We understand that writing a great resume can be a fairly daunting process that adds to the difficulty of the modern day job search. The average job search tends to be around 20 weeks long. A résumé service is one of the best ways to kick into overdrive and shorten that process — and you don’t need to actually do any of the writing. Leave that part to us.

If you are not ready to make the investment yet, we get that. You can submit your résumé for a free “Career Score,” and one of our professional writers will give you a review and a score free of charge. But $199 for a resume service truly is nothing when you consider the return on investment that your dream job could offer you. (You could probably make that after one day on the job). So I say to make the jump today! Land that dream job. It’s time to rev up into overdrive.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any more questions on résumé advice!

-Erica

Image Credits.

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