Your Resume is a Career Killer: Here’s the Real Reason Why

Context and ContentWe hear it all the time…

“The economy still sucks. I’ve sent 50 applications and haven’t gotten one call.”

In many industries and some locations in the US, it is true: the economy still sucks. However, the cold-hard truth is that if you’ve sent 50+ applications and have generated no interest in you as a potential employee, something else sucks more than the economy…

Your resume.

But it isn’t as simple as that.

Chances are it has nothing to do with what career experts talk about often: typos, font choices, format, etc.  For many, their resume – from the perspective of a hiring decision maker – doesn’t suck only because of spellcheck failure, your unfortunate choice of Times Roman or the lack of white space. It is missing something far more important…

Anything relevant.

Many young careerists have completed internships, performed a variety of volunteer work, and worked diligently to develop marketable soft skills. This post isn’t for them.

This advice is for those college students and recent grads who have failed – even refused – to spend significant time during the past few years acquiring marketable experience. They focused on studies, or their social lives. They believed the myth that said, “All I need is a degree and a decent GPA.” They neglected their life after college.

And no matter how many times those would-be young professionals rewrite their resume, that one-page document is going to continue to kill their job search. Because compared to all your competition… your resume fails to present anything worth the recruiter’s time.

In the business world, there is a saying: “Context first, content second”.

  • Context is applying what you know to the situation at hand; specifically, the problem the recruiter is trying to solve – and their role in solving that problem
  • Content is how you tailor your experience, through your resume, to that situation

The best resumes (or LinkedIn profiles for those of us who no longer care care about old-school resumes) feature context and content. They address the problem. They present a solution.

For those without hands-on experience: you have neither context nor content.

You have a document full of “hard worker”, “detail oriented” and “team player” clichés. You have a whole section on relevant coursework – when the reality is that very little of your coursework is relevant in the real world. And you likely have a summary of skills that reinforces what an excellent student you are… the trouble is no one hires students; they hire those capable of stepping in and getting the job done – now.

So no matter how much you manipulate the words to come up with a page of something that makes you seem employable… you’re going to come up short. No matter how many resumes you send… you are not likely to get an interview. Why? Because you’re trying to sell something almost no one wants to buy.

So how do you fix this?

How do you compete, knowing you don’t have the necessary experience? What is the magic bullet that will make a recruiter, finally, call? How do you end your job search frustration?


Stop your job search. You’re not ready. You can NOT compete. And there is no magic bullet.

Spend the next three months cramming. Get an internship or two. Volunteer every weekend. Ask a mentor for the chance to job shadow, or perhaps work for minimum wage 20 hours per week. Do whatever it takes to show your worth, develop the necessary workplace skills and – most important – to have something relevant for your resume.

Your resume is killing your job search because it is an accurate representation of the work you’ve put into your career so far. It simply will not help you find work until you work hard enough – in the context of the real world – to fill your resume with relevant content.

You can make up for lost time. You can build an amazing resume. It is mid-March now. In 90 days – before summer really gets going – you can move your resume from career killer to competitive.

Get started right now, and end your job search frustration.





Mark Babbitt AuthorAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable and Forbes regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.

Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors,” HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts.” Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Business Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, June 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Contact Mark on Twitter!



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