3 Ways To Tell If Your Resume Sucks

Jun 15 2010 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg


You’ve finished your resume, had friends and even recruiters look it over and hear a resounding “Good Resume”. How can you tell if your resume sucks?

Since your friends and even recruiters aren’t the primary audience for your resume, their opinion won’t matter much – it’s the hiring manager’s opinion that matters most (and the other 3 audiences for your resume).

There’s a world of difference between a “good resume” and an effective resume. Beyond the basics of typos, formatting, and typos, will your resume appeal to the companies you target? Here’s the 3 top ways.

#1 Reason Your Resume Sucks –
If It’s Not On The Resume, It Doesn’t Exist

Have you ever been perfect for a position, yet you didn’t get a callback?

This is one of the most frequent shortcomings of candidate resumes – they assume that the reader is telepathic.

Hiring managers (and therefore recruiters and HR reps) believe what they see on a resume as the candidate’s representation of themselves. Cover letters or marketing pieces are seen as “seller’s fluff”.

As an example, back when I was recruiting, I recall talking to a technology candidate. To start the interview, the candidate talked about how upset he was with my firm – he had submitted his resume for a job he was perfect for, and didn’t even get a call. He brought a copy of the ad to show me how close of a fit he was.

When comparing his resume and the job description side by side, I saw that approximately 40% of the criteria listed in the ad were not addressed on his resume. When I asked about each gap, the job seeker gave great answers, clearly stating where he had this experience. After talking to him, he built a strong case why he was a great fit.

I asked him to show me where each of these experiences appeared on his resume. All of a sudden, his eyes demonstrated his understanding … they got wide, and his voice dropped in tone as he said “I planned to discuss this in the interview.” I replied that even the best recruiter isn’t telepathic (http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/01/20/recruiters-and-hiring-managers-arent-telepathic/).

The candidate realized that a busy recruiting office or HR department gets thousands of applicants for each job. The job seeker had even implemented Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) for his past employers, so he knew how companies set up processes to pre-screen resumes and to centralize the nearly 50% of the resumes that it’s own employees receive through their personal networks. Yet, he overlooked how these same systems applied to him as a candidate.

For more information to help you make sure your resume includes all of the experience that is relevant to a specific employer see http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/03/23/if-its-not-on-your-resume-it-doesnt-exist/.

#2 Reason Your Resume Sucks –
Your Resume Is WIFM, Not WIFT

WIFM = “What’s In it For Me”, or what’s important to the job seeker
WIFT = “What’s In it For Them”, what’s important to the hiring company

Which one do you think appears most often in resumes? Since most candidates write their resume as an autobiography, they naturally include WIFM – it’s human nature. That’s why the vast majority of candidates write their resumes describing WIFT. The most obvious example is an objective statement – it’s very function is to describe what the candidate is looking for, rather than convey what the candidate can do to solve an employer’s specific problems.

This presents a big challenge for the job seeker – the hiring manager isn’t searching for what’s important to you. The hiring manager has problems and is looking for an employee to solve those problems. The hiring manager is looking for WIFT.

Hiring managers care about what’s in it for you as an afterthought – Only if they are interested in having you work there, to gain some comfort that you’ll stay for a while. To most managers, hiring staff is just as painful as the candidacy process, and a hiring manager doesn’t want to go through this process again for the same position in six months.

Most candidates send virtually the same resume for all positions, or one resume template for each “type” of job. Using this strategy, it’s impossible to present WIFT, since each employer has different problems and needs. WIFT only works with highly customized resumes … but it can be extremely effective when utilized well.

Another often used example of WIFM is describing yourself as a generalist. In today’s do less with more environment, you’ll likely be hired primarily to solve specific problems rather than be a jack of all trades. This applies to executives as well as entry level staff. Even though your day-to-day responsibilities may be generalist in nature, that’s not the reason you’ll be the selected candidate, because generalist skills are WIFM. Your future employer will be more interested in choosing a top candidate who demonstrates subject matter expertise in a few areas (WIFT), with the assumption that general skills come with experience.

For more information to help you make your resume WIFT, see (http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/03/17/job-seekers-tell-your-readers-wift-whats-in-it-for-them/.

#3 Reason Your Resume Sucks –
Your Resume Describes Your Experience & Responsibilities

From most candidate’s point of view, unless you expect ageism, number of years of experience signifies greater skill. Candidates regularly assume that listing 25 years of experience performing a job function means that you’re really good at that job.

Most hiring mangers and candidates don’t interpret experience in the same way. In a sense, they aren’t speaking the same language. You may have been performing at a minimal skill level for 25 years, or you may have been a guru for 25 years – a hiring manager can’t determine how talented you are at a skill merely by the number of years you’ve been practicing it.

Your next hiring manager wants to see your accomplishments – how you solved problems and provided value to your past employers. Yet, the majority of resumes feature experience over accomplishment.

This goes back to how we were taught to write resumes – as an autobiography. To make matters worse, hiring managers often do not give full disclosure in their advertisements, listing years of experience as a proxy for the accomplishments they truly seek.

Do you really think that the number of years you’ve performed a job gives an indication of how well you’ve performed it? Does it tell your reader how much money you will earn the company if they hire you?

Even listing responsibilities give a very different perception than accomplishments. Listing your responsibilities makes a candidate look passive, while listing accomplishments gives the perception that you actively managed projects. Accomplishments look hands-on, while responsibility give the impression that others did all the work while you sat on your butt, pushing paper.

Which way do you think your background looks more desirable?

For more information about how to better incorporate accomplishments into your resume, even if you are a rookie, see (http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/04/22/experience-vs-accomplishments/.

Does your resume suck?

Just by changing these 3 things on your resume will make it far more effective, make you stand out above your competition, and help you gain more interviews.

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Source: http://reCareered.com
Author: Phil Rosenberg

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