The Truth About How Resumes Really Stack Up

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Earlier in my career when I was looking for jobs, I truly thought that everyone else’s résumé was TONs better than mine. I’d spent hours perfecting this document for each and every job application, fearing that someone else’s résumé constituted pure perfection, and that truly was what I was up against.

Want to hear a startling statistic? Talk to most human resource / hiring managers, and most will agree that nearly 90% of all résumés submitted are AWFUL.

That’s unbelievable. And creates a good news / bad news scenario for job seekers.

The good news is that no one else is doing much better than you are in preparing this most important career asset.

The bad news is… you likely aren’t doing much better than anyone else. And this means that you aren’t falling into that top “10%” part of the application class that graduates into being invited to an interview.

So what’s the problem? Why would so many Americans have problems writing a simple document?

There are a lot of reasons, and here are some of them. Take an honest inventory of yourself and see if any of these points hit close to home:

1) I don’t need a résumé – I’ve got connections. True, 80% of all jobs are found through someone you know, but as many people currently on the job market can attest, even those connections aren’t ‘doing’ it these days. In the past when things were going great in the economy, passing a résumé on to a key decision maker was more of a formality versus a deal-breaker. Those days are long gone. It’s vital to have a well-prepared document written in earnest versus a passé, glossed over document. Employers are shopping around and having a good buddy inside that target company isn’t necessarily going to ice the cake. You need to be centered on producing a good document that is reflective of your abilities and the assets that you offer a prospective employer.

2) I’ll remember what I did when it comes time to update my résumé. Really? It’s now five years ago since you worked on that major project. Do you remember all the outcomes? Being lazy in the present definitely causes headaches in the future. I can’t tell you how many clients look at me with panic in their eyes during our consultations, and they say, “I didn’t keep track of those statistics.” Any agile, well-positioned candidate in a job search process is keenly aware of their contributions and has a finely tuned and updated résumé ready to go in case an opportunity arises or if they are a victim of an unplanned job transition. Start a ‘scratch’ list of your accomplishments that includes your ‘well-dones’, personnel reviews, staff reports, plan of work, and any other documentation that help you quantify your work so it is handy when you do sit down to update your résumé.

3) I’ll just update my old résumé. Have you been simply adding and topping off the original document you developed after your first job? Understanding what has changed significantly in résumé development best practices can help you dodge obstacles that you may have unwittingly placed in your résumé. A lot of things that were acceptable in the past are no longer favorable, and out-moded résumés tell employers a lot about the person. For example, objective statements are completely outdated – the new tool is to create a job title headline and a personal branding statement. And when it comes to working on out-of-date résumés, you’d be surprised at how many people reveal personal information including tip-offs about their age, personal preferences, and also fail to include quantifications of their work. Simply dumping job duties into this document won’t cut it anymore!

4) Employers will want me… I just know it. Who wouldn’t? Riiiigggghtttt…. Of course you are a hot shot, and at the top of your game, but allowing yourself to creep into this mindset (believe me, I’ve meet many clients who unbelievably still tout this attitude) is certain death to any job search. The focus HAS to be on the target audience… what are you going to do for that company? Don’t think in terms of what they are going to do for you… that’s backward and not something you can cling to and hope to survive in today’s economy. Think value proposition.

5) I’ll use a Word template and that ought to make my résumé look professional. Unfortunately, it’s entirely too quick and super easy to use one of these handy documents… but the downside is that you come out looking just like everyone else who used this type of form. Don’t get me wrong- there are some definite bonuses in that these templates, which can definitely add structure to a résumé if there wasn’t any before… but there’s a certain finesse in creating a career document that organizes your information in an easily readable format that transitions well while reflecting your personality. A stamped-out template is rather robotic and inflexible. Take the time to learn how to use Word to create elements that make your résumé pop. After all, you want to stand out!

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