4 Resume Killers (and How to Fix Them)



Developing an effective resume can be a daunting task. How do you summarize the most relevant aspects of your career within one to two pages? Which details should be included and which saved for the interview? How do you know if your document is really working or getting rejected out of hand?

The following four “Resume Killers” are common mistakes I’ve encountered in working with clients as a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). If your resume suffers from one of the following, I’d recommend a rewrite before continuing with your job search.

1. Lack of relevancy.

Some job seekers are so eager to demonstrate what makes them unique they forget a resume’s chief purpose: to underline your SUITABILITY for a particular position. Read through job postings you’re interested in submitting to. Which skills pop up time and time again? Which of these have you excelled at? These attributes should be the “theme” of your resume, touched upon in an opening paragraph and expanded upon within your work history. Above all, keep this in mind: the resume is where you demonstrate what a good fit you are for a particular job. The interview is where you demonstrate what sets you apart from the competition.

2. Missing career information.

The work history section of your resume needs to be structured in reverse chronological format, starting with your most recent position and working backwards in time to least. While it’s perfectly acceptable to consolidate older positions (those dating past 12 to 15 years) within an “Additional Experience” or similar section, leaving off crucial information for more recent positions sends up a big red flag in the eyes of recruiters and hiring agents.

Be sure every position detailed in your resume includes the following:

-Company name and location

-Exact Job Title Held

-Dates worked

While it’s perfectly okay to include a brief “Career Note” within your work history that addresses a time gap, fudging employment dates is not an acceptable substitute. Career Notes should be succinct and focus on positive results, such as any additional training you may have taken, etc.

3. Lack of quantifiable accomplishments.

While it’s easy to tout skills, actually backing them up with quantifiable accomplishments is another matter entirely. However, the latter is the SINGLE MOST POWERFUL STRATEGY you can use to get that phone ringing. Take the extra time to dig up career successes, checking documentation and reports, conferring with past colleagues and even contacting previous employers if it’s acceptable. Now create a “Key Accomplishments” section following every job listing them (in bullets).

4. Flashy resume formatting.

Be conservative when it comes to formatting your resume, steering clear of fancy logos, templates and colors. While these tricks do call attention to a candidate’s resume, they do so for all the wrong reasons, and constitute easy grounds for a rejection. Remember that a resume lives and dies on the strength of its CONTENT. Choose a simple layout and a standard font such as Arial or Garamond.

Anish Majumdar is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Founder of ResumeOrbit.com, a consulting firm that specializes in Resume Development, LinkedIn Profile Development and Executive Bio Letter Development for Executives & C-Level professionals.