Patrick Coppedge
almost 2 years ago


Change Your Resume So You Don't Look Bad

The resume is the single most important tool that a job seeker has to getting that important interview for a job. Not only does it have to pass the scrutiny of the Applicant Tracking System, it needs to get the attention of the hiring manager. If your resume makes you look bad, then it's time to see what may be the problem and what to do about it.

Here are some things you should consider changing on your resume so you don't look bad:

Not Applicant Tracking Systems Optimized

The majority of employers today use what’s called an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to automatically screen resumes. These systems look for keywords and other information to see if you’re a good match for the position.

You need to look at the job description and include relevant keywords to help you get past those ATS systems. For example - if a job description states that experience with "Photoshop" is required, make sure it’s listed on your resume.

Adding a core competencies section will help you easily plug those keywords in and tailor them to each position you apply to.

You should also use a standard format and avoid pictures, illustrations, graphics, fancy fonts and colors, tables, graphs, etc. ATS systems have trouble reading "creative" or "fancy" resumes and will reject them all together.

Including An Objective

Avoid using an objective statement. Hiring managers hate it and it adds no value to your resume. An objective statement says what you want and they could care less. Show them what you have to offer.

Instead of an objective use a summary to tell the employer why you would be a great fit for the position and what you can do for them.

Before: Looking to obtain a marketing position where I can use my vast experience and top skills to benefit the company.

After: Marketing director with 5 years experience leading teams in market research and innovative campaign design. Graduate of one of the top Business Schools in 2004. In 2010, I led the team that created the national Technology Skills Competence campaign that won the Status Marketing Excellence in Education award. I was featured on the cover of Global Marketing in January, 2016, for my work in launching the Marketers Assembly online forum several months earlier in 2015. I am a results-oriented and team-driven leader committed to maximizing returns on marketing investments, utilizing latest proven methods to achieve consistent profitablility while expanding the boundaries of marketing science and practical application.

Irrelevant Information

The purpose of a resume is to show that you have the skills, experience, education and other qualifications for the particular job you’re applying for.

Avoid resume "fluff" and focus on including relevant content. Read the job posting, taking carefully notice what the company is looking for in a candidate and the skills required for the position. Then make sure that those requirements and skills are highlighted on your resume.

You need to include information that’s relevant to the position you’re targeting. Take out of your resume any information that is not related to the experience and skills for the position that you're applying for. Remember, the more that your resume has on it that relates specifically to the position that you're applying for, the better your chances to land that job.

No Achievments

For every corporate job opening in the US, an average of 250 to 300 resumes are submitted. If you want to have your resume stand out from all of those, you will need to include achievements. Show how you are different from any other candidate; you went above and beyond what was expected.

A hiring manager isn't going to be impressed with a resume that lists out a bunch of duties.

Try to include as many quantifiable achievements as possible. For example "Increased sales by 130% in the first year." sounds better than just "Increased sales…" or " Completed the project 1 month early and under budget, saving the company $150,000 in labor costs." is more impressive than " Saved money by completing the project early."

Spelling Mistakes/Grammatical Errors

Misspelling and grammar errors stand out like a dark stain on a white shirt, telling the hiring manager that you are careless, you lack attention to detail.

These mistakes are easily avoidable. Spell check, but don’t rely on spell check to do all of the work for you. There are mistakes that spell check won't catch. Here's an example of a real word, just not the one that a candidate wants to use in a resume (be careful to never leave the first "L" out of "public relations expert" on your resume).

Read and re-read your resume several times to make sure there are no mistakes. Have someone else look at it also. You should not trust your eyes because it's easy to miss even big mistakes after you've been looking at your own writing for a long time. Your eyes see what you meant to type instead of what’s really there. An objective reader can make a big difference in helping you catch spelling and grammar problems as well as many of the other mistakes discussed in this post.

If you are applying for jobs that require writing skills and/or attention to detail, it is even more important that your resume is free of errors. For a potential future employer, your resume is your first work sample and should reflect your ability to write, edit, and proofread if hired.

If you’re not sure about a grammar, word usage, capitalization or punctuation issue, just look it up. Spellboy is just one great resource for checking your spelling and grammar.

Lies And Half-Truths

Lying on your resume is taking a big risk that can cost you everything. There is a good chance that you will be revealed by the reference and background checks. Even if you make it through the hiring process, dishonesty on your resume discovered anytime during your employment can get you fired from your job, and a bad referral thereafter.

Don’t say you’ve graduated if you haven’t. If you haven’t yet graduated from college, for example, put down the name of the school you’re attending and state your expected graduation date.

Languages is another common lie. Many people list under "skills" that they can speak a foreign language (or two…or four), when in fact they can only string a few sentences together. Image what will happen when an irrate customer comes in yelling in Japanese and your manager looks to you to resolve the problem, because you list Japanese on your resume over a year ago. Awkward to put it mildly...

Sketchy Employment Dates

One of the main things that employers want to know is the amount of time you spent on your previous jobs. They are going to be scanning for dates and zeroing in on short tenures and long gaps between positions.

Make sure to put down, for each job, the date that you started working and the date that you left (month and year is sufficient). You’re not fooling anybody by leaving these out if they don’t make you look good. A lack of dates will read as an attempt to hide something. If you have gaps, then explain them.

Proof the dates carefully. It’s easy to overlook mistakes when it comes to numbers. You don’t want your resume to say you graduated in “May 2020” instead of “May 2010.”

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