It's no secret that your resume is critical in making or breaking your chances of getting an interview, which is why it's important to know what your resume says about you. It lists your skills, your experience, and even your goals, but between the lines, what does it really say about you? You may be surprised what little details can give off either the right or wrong impression of you! So to be safe, here is what your resume says about you.
1. Your Level of Interest in the Job
This is probably the most important thing on this list of what your resume says about you. Do you tend to send a generic resume to every company that you're applying to? Just like you should do when composing a cover letter for each individual position you're applying for, you should also create a unique resume specifically for each individual position. It can be based on a template, but it should include only the most relevant skills and work history that pertain to each individual position you want. Actually, according to CNN, 51% of all resumes are now processed via a tracking system that works by detecting keywords. These keywords are chosen based on what the recruiters are looking for in candidates, and are usually found in the job advertisement itself. Thus, in order to have your resume seen, make sure to involve ways your past work experience has prepared you for the skills this position was calling for in its advertisement.
2. You Used School to Your Advantage
The reason recruiters look for a degree is because it shows them that you are willing (and have the capability) to learn. It also shows how committed you are to your future in your field. If you partied through college and just scraped by choosing the easiest courses, your future employer will see that. To make up for a shortage of work experience, new college graduates can list some classes that are relevant to the position they are applying for. Be sure not to list any courses you did poorly in or don't have anything to do with the position. Also, once you get some job experience under your belt, you should leave off your college courses, as they won't be as important as your experience. Also, if your GPA was great in school, list it in your education section. I mean, you worked your butt off in class, why not be proud of it?
3. You're Hard Working & Accountable
One of the biggest issues I hear is people saying jobs ask for experience when they just finished college and don't have any yet. If you're lacking experience in your particular field, keep in mind that for entry-level positions, employers mainly just like to see that you have a work history of some kind. They just want to verify with someone that you are accountable and hard working. When listing jobs, try to list your responsibilities and skills learned as being helpful towards the new position you're applying for in some way. This is why internships are great to put on your resume in place of work experience.
4. You're Overcompensating
When it comes to your resume, you shouldn't have every single position you've ever held in your life or every achievement. Take out all jobs that don't apply, don’t list your hobbies unless they directly support your qualifications for the position, and don’t mention non-professional affiliations such as political or religious volunteer work unless it directly relates to the position you are applying for. Any personal information runs the risk of turning the reader off. However proud you are of personal achievements, you should not run the risk of alienating someone before you even have your foot in the door. Listing too many things in your resume can make your reader feel like you are trying to overcompensate for something you're lacking, such as relevant work experience or good grades in college. Remember to always try to stick to a one page resume unless you've been in the business a long time and have a lot of accomplishments in your career field.
5. You Have Attention to Detail
Your resume has to be perfect, and by perfect, I mean that you need to proofread it over and over again. Then, when you are sure it’s perfect, have other people proof it! If even one word is misspelled, the reader will assume that you didn’t know how to spell the word or that you didn’t care enough to go over your work and spell check. Nothing puts the reader off more quickly than misspellings or typos. It shows that you don't pay attention to detail, which is a bad quality to have in a new employee, and that you don't care enough about the position to spend the time to proofread.
6. You're Creative
Especially if you are going for a graphic design job or something similar, you might consider a resume that illustrates your designing capabilities. However, if you are looking for a position which has little to do with art, I suggest you go with more conservative visual appeal. You have to remember that visual appeal should serve the main purpose of catching a recruiters eye. It should NOT distract him or her. If anything, visual appeal should be used to accentuate keywords. So, bold or italicize your texts in areas which you want to emphasize. If you do use colors, try to limit the range of colors that you use; it can get too distracting. You can use things like a light blue name at the top with dark blue lines throughout the resume to separate the various headings and sections. Colored lines can help the reader to see where each section begins and ends.
7. You Lack Commitment
Sometimes we have to work a random job or explore other options in order to find work, but having too much of a scattered resume can tell a reader that you aren’t really committed to your field. Make it a point to connect your odd-jobs to your intended field, or just leave them off altogether. Most people have that odd summer job or semester internship on their resume. But, if you feel that you need to list multiple three-month gigs on your resume, be sure to include your reasons for leaving, such as the job was only intended for the semester. This prevents your reader from assuming the worst about why you left or were forced to leave.
8. You're Too Modest
Don’t be uncomfortable about showing off your skills and potential! Too many people tend to play down their achievements as to not sound cocky on a resume. While you should never exaggerate on a resume, you should definitely take credit for the things you’ve accomplished. Some people feel uncomfortable boasting on paper, preferring to explain in an interview. But if your resume doesn’t spark interest, you may never get that opportunity, so don’t be modest!
9. You're Lazy
I've heard that the use of “etc.” on a resume is a sign of laziness to recruiters. It subtly shows that you can't even take the time to list out all of your job duties. Another subtle laziness indicator is saying "same as above" anywhere on your resume. Instead, if you had similar job functions at your last two jobs, summarize the responsibilities and then bullet out some of your accomplishments for each. Also, check your resume's verbs, and use strong verbs to make your resume more vibrant. For instance, you should rewrite "responsible for daily bank deposits" to read like: "oversaw daily bank deposits." It shows you didn't just lazily write out your resume with whatever came to your mind first.
Yes, it may sound like recruiters are super critical, but the job market is bad and there are so many people applying for the same jobs that it's the only way to narrow down the choices. This is why your cover letter and resume are so important. It's hard to show your true potential on a piece of paper, but you have to do the best you can in order to secure an interview. Try taking a resume workshop online too, if you're having trouble trying to make your resume stand out more. What tips do you have for those of us who are still on the job hunt?