90% of people make this resume mistake: here’s how you can avoid it

resume mistakes

flickr.com/creativecommons/jessica mullen
Anthony Ladipo

I often hear people make the statement “I have shown my resume to several people and everyone says it’s great yet I still cannot find a job”. This statement infers that if people tell you your resume is good then you should have a higher chance of getting a job. I’m here to tell you that this line of reasoning is completely flawed.

Imagine you are having a problem with your kitchen sink and you need to hire someone.  Let’s assume the sink has been clogging up and the water isn’t draining. Now you decide to write a job description for the individual that will come and do the work in your home and post the job online. Now imagine an applicant sends you a perfectly formatted Truck Driver Resume with flawless grammar, the resume then describes the great charity work the individual has done as well as their excellent work experience. All this sounds great except for the fact that he doesn’t highlight any relevant experience related to fixing your sink.

My point is the Truck Driver could have sent that resume to 10 people to review and all of them would have said it was a great resume in terms of grammar and formatting. The reason being that they were looking at the resume in isolation e.g. Without understanding the job he is applying for there is no way they are qualified to tell him if his resume is good or not. They can advise him on formatting, grammar and spelling however these are only one piece of the puzzle. Relevance is by far the most important part of a resume and if the resume isn’t tailored to the job description then it doesn’t matter if the applicant has proper spelling.

The only way someone can truly assess your resume would be for them to assess it for formatting and also for relevance. This means you would also need to send them a copy of the job description which would allow them to tell you whether or not you were highlighting the right experience. This seems like common sense but I can assure you that 9 out of 10 people spend most of their time reviewing and evaluating their resume independently of the Job description.

The truth is that without looking at a job description you can’t know if your resume is good or not as each resume must tailor to the employers need. There is no way you would hire a mechanic to do a hair dressers job yet a lot of us will apply for 10 different jobs with the same resume. You may argue that all the jobs are similar and therefore it justifies using the same resume but trust me this is not the case. I have hired people and one thing I can say is that when reviewing a resume I’m usually scanning it to pick out the key attributes and experiences that will be valuable to me. It is only after I see information pertinent to the role that I even consider looking at the resume more thoroughly. I am literally looking for key wording that aligns with the job description and experiences also relevant to the job description. My suggestion would be that even if you only have one piece of experience relevant to the role you must ensure that you highlight it and put it in the top third of the resume as that will be the piece that catches attention.

I will end this by emphasizing that a resume by itself means very little. If you send just a resume to your friend or even an HR person then they can assess it in isolation and give you feedback however the most important part of a resume is relevance and the only way to evaluate relevance is to look at the job description and the resume together. Executing a poor plan Perfectly will get you nowhere so ensure you have a solid and relevant resume before worrying about formatting e.t.c.


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