5 Signs Your Resume Isn’t Ready for Today’s Job Search

Job Market TodayInsanity is often defined as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

We have another definition: gearing up for your next job or internship search with the same kind of resume you may have created three years ago.

Today’s job market is not what it was even one year ago, just as the iPhone isn’t what it was even a day ago. Here are 5 signs your resume is not ‘job search-ready’ for today:

1. Not Using Active Voice

Failing to use active voice in your resume not only saps power from your resume’s statements, it also bogs them down with unnecessary fillers (such as are, by, to, and and):

  • Active voice creates confident-sounding sentences. (Active)
  • Confident-sounding sentences are created by active voice. (Passive)

If you’re worried about sounding boastful or blunt, backing up every statement with solid examples will diffuse that. Remember, your resume is your chance to showcase your accomplishments – and not just list your duties.

Here are some examples of passive versus active voice:

  • Passive voice: “Responsible for the delivery and execution of staff training and professional development services.” (The ball was thrown by me)
  • Active voice: “Managed training and development programs for a staff of 20.” (I threw the ball)

2. Not Formatting Resume Keywords Correctly 

If hiring managers only spent six seconds per resume, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), the computer software used by 90% of businesses to help filter and select the best resumes, spend even less time to consider if a resume is qualified or not.

Applicant tracking systems use a resume parser to track and extract resume keywords, the skills and qualifications that match skills and qualifications in the original job description. The more resume keywords the ATS can extract, the more qualified that resume is. So it’s important to include as many resume keywords as possible and format them correctly.

Jobscan is an excellent resource to determine which resume keywords are the most important and how to format them. Resume keywords must be formatted to echo the exact formatting of the keywords in the original job description. To an ATS, there is a huge difference between Microsoft Excel and a solitary Excel.

This is especially important to remember when changing your resume statements from passive voice to active voice. It might take some rewording (e.g., management vs. managing, supervising vs. supervisor vs. supervision) but the effort is well worth your time.

3. Not Using Numbers and the Percentage Sign

Using quantified examples, paint a clear picture!

If you helped increased a company’s profit, find out by how much. Recruiters won’t waste time on subjective phrases like “increased a company’s profit largely” or “contributed greatly.

Not only will a number be more recognizable to an ATS (adjectives mean nothing to them), it will have a more powerful effect on hiring managers. What would impress you more?

  • Greatly increased sales during my tenure as sales manager
  • Generated a 51.4%sales increase in 6 months

4. Holding Onto Unrelated or Old Experience

According to careerbuilder, it’s okay to go as far back as 10 years. But with resumes, quality is always better than quantity. It depends on what kind of job you are applying for and what impression you want to make.

If you want to show you have a long, solid work history and are applying to a job where you bring related experience, then pushing 15-20 years on your resume is fine. But if you are only putting on titles and dates just to have them, your resume will appear sloppy and grasping.

If you are applying to job where you don’t have a lot of related work history, then carefully selecting which jobs you find have relevant, transferable skills to the desired job and then highlighting those skills is your best shot, even if that experience is scattered all across fields and years.

Imagine yourself a film editor and the movie is your work history: you get to choose what to highlight and what to cut, what to turn the audience’s (recruiters’) attention onto and what to fast-forward through. Understanding exactly what impression you want hiring managers to have of you will help you decide what to keep and what to leave on the cutting room floor.

5. Not Creating a Brand

When you finally get home from work and have some time to relax in front of the television, do you turn on Dancing With the Stars or American Idol or even The Bachelor/Bachelorette? Do you sometimes find yourself latching onto a certain contestant and begin rooting for them, even though they may not be the greatest dancer, best singer, or the prettiest? They just have that little extra something that other contestants (that are possibly more qualified and skilled) simply don’t have? Yet, you want them to win, and sometimes they do.

That little extra something is a personal brand, what that sets them apart and allows people relate to and ultimately, remember them. On your resume, creating a similar persona will make hiring managers remember you. But that persona should be relevant to the job.

The best way to find and display your brand (which will be relevant to the job and true to you) is to find patterns in your resume:

  • What kinds of companies/fields you have found yourself pursuing? Why? Is a local, small-company feel more attractive to you than a fast-paced corporate ladder?
  • Which skills have you found yourself most using in the past? (But remember, frequent or not, these skills should be relevant. When in doubt, always refer back to the original job description.)
  • Which achievements, whether formally recognized or not, have you accomplished? Which behavior have employers and coworkers frequently praised you on?

Resumes, and the hiring process that scans resumes, have changed quite a bit over the past three years. Is your resume keeping up?


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Jobscan Blog. Thank you!





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