On and off in my career I’ve found myself in a position where I’ve had to hire a lot. Usually young professionals. The number one mistake I see is applicants that simply don’t understand what the purpose of their resume is. Here it is: the purpose of your resume is not to get you a job, it is to get you an interview. I didn’t think this was really such a big secret, but when someone asks me to review their resume and I explain this little nugget to them, it is like a profound reawakening occurs.
Don’t tell me too much
Keep it short. The point of your resume is to basically say “Hi, here’s a little about me.. My qualifications meet some of your requirements.. I can bring your company a lot of value.. let’s get together and discuss more”. You need to pique my interest, but not tell me everything about yourself and your experience. If you tell me everything about yourself, then why would I bother interviewing you? Guess what: I won’t. Even if you were the best candidate, you’ve already lost by not making it to the interview round.
Be a tease
When adding descriptions to your past accomplishments, don’t go overboard. A well crafted resume will leave me with a couple of lingering questions about your past experience and I will feel compelled to want to interview you to learn more. Give me a reason. If you’ve provided so much detail that I can’t think of a single question I’d ask you (and this thought process happens in seconds as the resumes are reviewed), then why would I schedule an hour of my day to have an interview? I’ve got nothing further I’d like to know that you haven’t already told me.
Don’t treat the hiring manager like an simpleton. If your job title was “cashier” don’t add bullets that say things like “Operated cash register”. I know. In fact, describing duties is generally unnecessary. Stick to accomplishments: the what, and not too much of the how. If you tell me the how, you’ve taken away a great reason for me to interview you. If you tease me with an impressive accomplishment, I am going to be dying to interview just to ask you more about how you did it. Do you see how your resume can actually be crafted to get you an interview?
One last time
Say it with me now: the purpose of your resume is to get you an interview. The purpose of the interview is to negotiate the job (more on this in a later post). Too many people think that the purpose of their resume is to demonstrate that they are the best person for the job, or that they are generally awesome and skilled in every possible way, or whatever. they’ve missed the point. You need to be relatively qualified (hopefully not entirely qualified, but that is another post in itself), but after that, they only difference between you & any other relatively qualified candidate is your ability to get to the interview stage.
What do you think the biggest or most common resume mistakes out there are?