First impressions are the most lasting.
But when you’re applying for jobs, you only get 6 seconds to make that first impression.
So if you aren’t getting calls for interviews, you can pretty much guarantee that your resume is to blame. It’s not your cover letter (cover letters are apparently dead, anyway). It’s not that you applied at the wrong time of day. It’s not that it was a full moon, mercury retrograde, or daylight savings.
It’s that your resume didn’t pass the 6 second test and was promptly sent to File 13.
Here are 5 reasons your resume isn’t getting you interviews and what to do instead.
1. It’s Telling, not Showing
Excellent Sales Skills.
Strong Communication Skills.
Accomplished Project Manager.
Okay. Prove it.
It’s all well and good to say you have these skills, but you have to show examples of it.
What that means is, you need to focus on accomplishments, and quantify these accomplishments. So you’re good at sales? How many cases did you close last year? How much profit did that generate? You’re strong in communication? How many presentations did you give in Q1? How large were the audiences? You’re an accomplished project manager? What’s the highest profile project you’ve ever lead and how many tasks or people did you coordinate?
2. It’s Giving Away Your Age
The most obvious way to give away your age is by including graduation dates. But some of the more subtle ways are your resume’s bland layout, the fact that you still include your full home address in the header, and your use of only Times New Roman font throughout.
Snazz up the format a bit. Don’t go crazy, but try something that looks a bit cleaner, has a more modern-looking layout, and only include your Metro and Province/State. As well, Times New Roman is such a yawn. Consider fonts like Calibri or Arial. Also make proper use of upper-case lettering and bold to draw attention to important points, and make it easier to scan.
3. It’s Painful to Read
You have too little white space. It looks like Word barfed on the screen. Everything is left-justified. You use bullets gratuitously. This stuff hurts.
A really good resume layout is key here. There are tons of good templates on the resume scene. Just turn to Google or Pinterest.
Also, add some structure to the way you list your prior experience. A short paragraph to explain your role briefly, followed by bullets highlighting quantified accomplishments (back to #1) is the way to go.
Make it easy on the eyes and easy to scan.
4. It’s Self-Centered
Does your resume have “Career Objective” at the top?
When you lead off your resume that way you’re saying “It’s all about what I want from the job, not what you want” which I know is not the impression you intend to give.
Easy Fix: Change “Career Objective” to “Career Summary” and brag about yourself in a brief paragraph. Bonus points for using this section to throw in some key words from job descriptions themselves.
5. It’s Full of Fluff
Excellent. Strong. Expert-level.
Team Player. Self Starter. Results Oriented.
Excellent references supplied upon request.
This stuff is generally word garbage. The way to exhibit your strength and skill is in quantifying your accomplishments, like we explained in #1.
It’s still important to list skills, but only list the skills themselves. You don’t need to say “Strong Relationship Management Skills”, but something more specific like “Account Management”. Then prove your strength with hard data in your experience section.
And as for references, if you make it to the offer, it’s assumed you’ll be able to provide them.
Writing a well-crafted resume is a science and an art.
Sometimes you need the help of the professionals. Contact me any time to get a free critique of your resume and let’s get your resume passing the 6 second test.
Resume Writer | LinkedIn Consultant | Job Search Strategist