A Resume to Guarantee a Failed Job Search

A resume I received recently virtually guaranteed the job seeker will not land a job.  I see a lot of bad resumes.  Most have significant opportunities for improvement.  Despite this, the resume I read stood out as a disaster. 

The resume failed to include anything to demonstrate the ability of the job seeker to succeed in the field he is pursuing.  Even more troubling, there was almost nothing on the resume to indicate what the job seeker was seeking. 

The job seeker had held several entry level jobs in a variety of industries.  Each field involved vastly different skills.  The job seeker packed the first page of his resume with all of these skills.  There were dozens. 

This is common.  Many job seekers try to include every skill, just in case one of the skills is important to a hiring manager.  The problem with this strategy is how a hiring manager assesses a resume.  A hiring manager will look for the skills the job seeker is strongest with first.  If there is no differentiation between the skills, the hiring manager won’t be able to determine, which are especially strong and, which are weak.  All of the skills get discounted to a low average proficiency level.

The skills listed on the resume had little to nothing to do with the field the job seeker was pursuing.  The job seeker was interested in changing career fields.  There is no way I could have known this from just the resume.  If I had a position that fit this person’s goals, I would never have thought to consider him for it.  It’s almost impossible to land a job if your resume won’t get an employer to even consider you for the right position.  Unfortunately, this mistake is common.

What You Should Do

  1. Prioritize Your Skills – What are your three most marketable skills?  These are skills that relate directly to the position you are pursuing.  They are also skills where your skill level is high.
  2. Review the Top of Your Resume – Read the top half of the first page of your resume.  Are you three most marketable skills mentioned prominently in this area?  How many other skills are mentioned?  Do you have any accomplishments showing your ability to contribute using your skills?
  3. Emphasize Your Marketable Skills – List your top three skills in the first couple lines of your resume.  You want these skills to be so obvious a hiring manager will never miss them.  Move your other skills down.  Your less marketable skills may still be beneficial on your resume but should be placed throughout the body of your resume or listed at the bottom.
  4. Add Accomplishments – Make sure you include at least one accomplishment where you used a skill to make a specific contribution to a company.

If you follow these four steps, you will give yourself a chance.  The steps are just guidelines, though.  You may decide to emphasize only two key skills or may settle on four or five closely related skills.  The important thing is to focus your resume on the marketable details from your background that will get attention.