One of the questions I hear most often is, "I'm not getting any calls for interviews -- what's wrong with my résumé?"
There are a few typical mistakes most people make. Grab your résumé and follow along.
Here are the top seven most likely ways your résumé might be failing you.
It's written in full sentences
If you are using full sentences and paragraphs, you might be saving space, but you're making your résumé into an unattractive wall of text. No one will want to read it. Instead, use bullet points to describe your previous job descriptions. For example, instead of writing, "I managed a team of seven employees. This job involved running status update meetings," write:
- Managed a team of seven employees.
- Ran status update meetings.
It looks cleaner and will get more people to read your résumé.
You listed duties for each job but not accomplishments
Anyone can list a job description. What makes you different from other applicants is what you accomplished on the job. If you really want to stand out, the work experience listed on your résumé should include quantitative achievements, such as, "Managed a $2M budget," or, "Increased sales by 35%."
Your education information is still at the top, despite years of work experience
Unless it's your first job out of school, move your education information closer to the bottom of your résumé and let your work experience take precedence near the top. Your education matters very little once you have some applicable experience.
You send out one generic résumé rather than updating it for each job
If you aren't updating your résumé for every job you apply to, you're pretty much ensuring you won't get called for an interview. If you really want to sound like a good fit for the job, your past experience should use the same words as the job listing you want. If the job you want involves "greeting customers in a professional manner," and your résumé says, "Answered phone and said hello to customers," you should change your résumé to say, "Greeted customers in a professional manner." It's the same thing you did, but it makes it more obvious to HR and any hiring managers that you have the right experience.
There is irrelevant information, such as hobbies or unrelated work experience
No one really cares about your hobbies, "other interests," or completely unrelated work experience. Your résumé should sound like it is coming from the ideal candidate for the job you want, and sometimes that means deleting outdated or irrelevant work experience. If a recent or long-term job seems irrelevant to you now, find a way to reword your job duties and accomplishments to show how it has prepared you for the job you want.
You're submitting it without a cover letter
Always include a cover letter. If you don't, your résumé will most likely end up in the recycling bin.
No one is handing it directly to the hiring manager
This tip may not have to do with how you write your résumé, but it's more important than all the others combined. If you really want your résumé to stand out, have someone who knows the hiring manager hand it directly to him. You'll be about thirty times more likely to get called for an interview than if you submit your application through the normal channels.
Carissa Doshi is a business writer and the president of Gen Y Media Group. She gives career advice and blogs about her experiences on www.carissadoshi.com. You can also follow @CarissaDoshi on Twitter.