Haven’t heard back from any job you’ve applied to? It’s not your skills or experience, but your resume could be to blame. Don’t beat yourself up about it—perfecting the art of resume writing takes time and practice. There are a few critical mistakes you could be making. Here are four of them and how you can combat these errors:
1. Not Tailoring Your Resume
You can’t send the same generic application to every single job posting you come across. That’s right—every job application you write should be perfectly tailored to the position. Different job postings request different skills and you’ll need to change your resume to reflect each job’s requirements. For example, if you work in the social media field and are applying to a job with a heavy focus on graphic design, you’ll want to highlight how much design work you did at your prior social media jobs.
Set aside some time and create a handful of resumes that could work for different fields you’re applying for. For instance, I personally have a resume that emphasizes work I’ve done in the social media field, and another one that highlights work I’ve done as a writer, among others. I could apply for a job with for either, but the latter places a stronger emphasis on blog writing, journalism and copywriting than the former. You should also go in and edit wording where you can, too—sprinkle in key words and phrases from the job posting to make your application best reflects what the company is looking for.
2. Ignoring Gaps in Employment
In today’s job market, a gap in employment is normal, but neglecting to explain the gap can cost you future jobs. Hiring managers may fill in the gap themselves or worry that you don’t have the go-getter attitude that they’re looking for, completely unaware that the truth may be that you’ve gone back to school, that you took time away from your career to care for your family, or you were dealing with a personal matter and were unable to work.
If your gap in employment was only a few months, then remove months from your resume entirely. List your positions as being from “2022 – 2023” instead of “March 2022 – January 2023” and hiring managers likely won’t concern themselves with the exact timeline.
If your gap spanned multiple years, or it’s impossible to change the layout to ignore it, just be honest about what you were doing with that time. Parental leave, going back to school, or working as a caregiver to a family member are all understandable reasons to a potential employer.
3. Discussing Duties, Not Achievements
A hiring manager won’t be impressed if your resume is just listing off the basic tasks you performed at each job. “Managed the social media account and wrote blogs for the website” won’t cut it. Did you run any social media campaigns, and how many new people followed the account? How much buzz did your blog posts get? Did they bring new people to the website or did anyone make purchases because of them?
Start every list of duties in your resume with achievements, and if you can, use metrics to make them stand out even more. This means that the first things that the hiring manager will know about your past work are all of your successes and they’ll quickly see you as valuable.
4. Neglecting to Proofread
As someone who’s sent out plenty of resumes, I’ve been there: you spent hours pouring over your entire application package, typing up a cover letter and an email, tailoring your resume, and now you’re over it—you just want to press send and relax!
As tempting as it is to fire off your application, don’t fall into the habit of failing to do a final proofread. There may be some very important typos or grammatical errors that could cost you the job. After all, you can’t say that you have a “great attention to detail” on the skills section of your resume when there’s a typo directly across from it. Take some extra time to proofread your resume before you hit send, and considering getting a friend to add another pair of eyes to look over it, too. If you find any errors, be relieved that you took the extra time to look everything over and saved yourself a trip straight into the hiring manager’s trash bin.
Remember, your resume is a hiring manager’s first impression of you, so make sure it’s the best one possible. Make it unique, make sure it shows your successes, and make every word on it perfect. Best of luck as you send your next batch off!
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Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.
Feature Image – Adobe