The Top 5 Resume Mistakes
How much is your resume costing you?
by Deborah Walker
Over the years as a recruiter, career coach and resume writer, I've seen the
consequences of poorly written resumes. Unfortunately, many don't seek
professional career help until they experience the frustration of a long and
fruitless job search. For most, their problems began by committing the top five
resume mistakes: lack of focus, absence of marketing strategy, no
accomplishments, lack of keywords and incorrect format.
The most effective resumes have focus, leaving no question in the mind of the
reader as to the job seeker's career objective. An early lesson I learned in my
recruiting days was that employers turn down perfectly qualified candidates when
the resume's focus is diluted. A one-size-fits-all resume gives the impression
that the job seeker is uncertain of his career goal. An employer told me once
that if a candidate is interested in two completely different positions, he must
not be very good at either. If you have more than one career objective you need
more than one resume.
The second resume mistake is the most common: lack of marketing strategy.
Rarely do job seekers see their search for what it really is-a sales campaign.
The best sales people use powerful marketing materials to help gain access to
top decision makers. Think of your resume as marketing material designed to
create a powerful first impression leading to a multitude of job interviews.
Translating your career history into an effective marketing piece means that
your first consideration is the reader's buying motives. Every word on the page
should demonstrate how you can solve their problems, save them time or money,
increase their net profit or improve customer relations. Once you understand
your resume as a marketing piece, you are a long way toward solving the third
resume mistake: absence of accomplishment statements.
For any 100 resumes posted on any major job board, it's a fair bet that 90 of
them are completely lacking in accomplishment statements. Accomplishments are
what allow a prospective employer to visualize you working in their
organization. Accomplishments motivate employers to call you before their
competition finds you. For top effectiveness, accomplishments must be stated
quantifiably as dollars, percents or raw numbers. Quantified statements are more
credible, concrete and objective. Investing time in writing out your
accomplishments yields more bargaining power at salary negotiation because you
have dollarized your worth.
Resume mistake number four, incorrect format, is easy to solve once you
understand which format best supports your career objective. Basically, there
are three fundamental resume formats; chronological, functional and hybrid. The
chronological is best known and easiest to write. It allows the reader to easily
identify the "what" "where" and "when" of your accomplishments. This format
works well if your objective is to remain in the same industry or occupation and
when your most recent experience demonstrate your best accomplishments.
The chronological format is not the most effective for showcasing
transferable skills. If you wish to cross industry or occupational lines, a
better format is the functional which places transferable skills and relevant
accomplishments at the beginning of your resume allowing a stronger first
impression. One problem with the functional resume is that, if not carefully
crafted, the resume is confusing, causing the reader to believe the candidate
has something to hide.
A solution to the sometimes confusing functional format is the hybrid which
combines the best of both chronological and functional. While the hybrid is
generally thought of as the best overall format, it is also the most difficult
to write. It requires strategic planning leading to a clear product branding
message. This is no doubt the best format for executives of all levels.
Once your resume is focused with marketing strategy using powerful
accomplishments and keyword and showcased in the most effective format, you are
well on your way to gaining your career objective quicker and with greater
Deborah Walker, CCMC provides Career Coaching and Resume
Writing to executives nationwide. Visit Deborah at her website at
email at mailto:Deb@AlphaAdvantage.com.