How to Avoid Writing a Dead-End Resume By Kurtis Tompkins

How to Avoid Writing a Dead-End Resume

How to Avoid Writing a Dead-End Resume

“Because a writer is a good writer, it doesn’t mean they are a good resume writer. A resume writer must be a good writer but should also know the 411 on writing a resume the right way.”  

– Kurtis T.


Two months ago (April 2020), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its report concerning the employment situation in the U.S. The results showed that a total of 3.5 million people were hired for jobs in the private sector and federal government. Further research showed that in the same month, there were about 23.1 million people unemployed. Out of those that were hired or rejected, the majority were required to submit a resume to be considered for the job.

Kurtis Tompkins, Certified Resume Writer
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Why the rejections? Resume strategy is one piece of this puzzle. Many candidates have convinced themselves to apply for as many roles as possible, using a generic (dead-end) resume, and hope for the best thereafter. Unfortunately, this mindset brings (and will continue to bring) much disappointment.

Preparing a resume that is ATS-optimized (more on that later) and written to gain the attention of hiring teams, requires time and effort, but your investment will be worth it. To help you make this happen, I will use this article to guide you around pitfalls, hence the title: “How to Avoid Writing a Dead-End Resume.”

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Tidbits / The Most Effective Resume Type

According to company size, hundreds (even thousands) of resumes might be received for a limited number of open positions. Handling applications via an Applicant Tracking System saves hiring teams loads of time and allows them to find qualified candidates quicker. Within some Applicant Tracking Systems, hiring teams can set filters, and those resumes that meet their search criteria are identified as potential matches for the opening by the system.

You will find some of their search criteria in the job description! For this reason, it is important to tailor your resume to match each job you are applying for! It is common for job seekers to avoid the tailoring process because they don’t know where to begin. For your sake, I want to share something that I believe will help. I’ve found that the targeted resume is an effective resume format to use when applying for jobs online.

With this format, you would focus on the skills, competencies, and experience needed for the role in question. The finished product can get the attention of a hiring team if done correctly. Submitting a generic resume and thinking, “the hiring team will see my experience and ask more questions during the interview”, is not a good strategy.

Many job seekers hate Applicant Tracking Systems because they believe that each system is rigged against them, which isn’t the case. These systems are used to simplify hiring processes. Wouldn’t you love it if a system could make your job easier? Instead of being duped by ATS misconceptions, learn the rules of the “game” and play accordingly; take note – I just gave you the secret!

So far, to help you avoid writing a dead-end resume, I talked about the targeted resume format. As a quick recap, due to this format’s focus, using it can help you to improve your job search results. What other tips can you use to make sure your resume is on point, you ask? Here is a list of 8 dead-end resume writing habits to avoid. Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list, but utilizing these tips will help you in a big way!

8 Dead-End Resume Writing Habits to Avoid

  1. Avoid Using Objective Statements

Back in the day, a large number of resumes had an objective statement at the top. Objective statements read something like this:

“To obtain a position where I can utilize my skills and grow with a great company”. 

An objective is considered “old school”. It does not tell the hiring team anything they don’t already know. Therefore, it is not effective and should be avoided at all costs. Devising a professional summary instead of an objective statement is a better choice. When written strategically, a professional summary can grab the attention of the hiring team and prompt them to continue reading your resume. See below for an excerpt of a Professional Summary:

Computer Support Technician possessing 7+ years’ experience diagnosing, repairing and maintaining technological equipment for Fortune 100 clients. Knowledgeable of PC configuration techniques, best practices for performing upgrades, system imaging methodologies and cyber security protocol.”

Can you see the difference?

  1. Avoid Personal Pronouns & Third-Person Language

Personal pronouns such as “I” (and the like), are implied when reading sentences on a resume. Always write your resume using first-person language (without the personal pronouns of course). Finally, please do not write your resume in the third person! This practice is considered objectionable.

  1. Avoid Using Too Many Bullet Points (Work History)

Bullet points help to bring attention to important details on the resume. Every little detail of your work history should not be bulleted. Items that are accomplishment-oriented should stand out with bullet points, but bullet points should be few and powerful. Hiring teams will review your resume for 6-10 seconds on average initially, so adding lots of information to “get their attention” is not necessary.

  1. Avoid Adding Your Entire Work History

Resumes should contain the last 15 years max of work experience related to the role you are applying for. Listing positions that are 25+ years old isn’t necessary and can work against you.

  1. Don’t Submit a Long Resume

As mentioned above, your resume will be reviewed for a very short period providing it is identified as a potential match for a role. A long resume can cause the reviewer to skip to the next candidate for the sake of time. To prevent this from happening, remember the following: if you have under 10 years of experience, limit your resume to 1 page. If you have over 10 years of experience, limit your resume to 2 pages; if needed.

  1. Avoid Unnecessary Formatting

This is a major area that candidates have trouble with. Stay away from complex formatting elements including symbols, lines, select table options, etc., when preparing your resume. Some of these elements will void ATS optimization and can cause issues with your document.

  1. Avoid Keyword Stuffing

It is important to have keywords from the job description weaved strategically throughout your resume to be identified as a potential candidate match in an ATS and by the human behind the ATS. If you don’t do this, your resume will likely be passed over. Some people believe in stuffing the resume with keywords to “get it past the ATS”. Keyword stuffing won’t work in your favor! It will be detected one way or another and cost you an opportunity!

  1. Add Strong Action Verbs at the Beginning of Each Sentence (Work History)

All sentences in your work history should begin with strong action verbs. Strong action verbs give each sentence life for the reader. Examples of strong action verbs include Accelerated, Bolstered, Influenced, Recovered, Tutored, etc.

There is much more that goes into the process, but these 8 golden nuggets will put you on the right track. Still confused? Don’t look for a good writer to help; look for a good resume writer.

Final Thoughts

When you write your resume, don’t focus on what you want to tell the hiring team alone! Learning what constitutes their preferred candidate by way of the job description, and tailoring the resume accordingly is the objective. Once you have the finished product on hand, you want the reader to see that you are a suitable match for the role you are applying for! Don’t forget to visit Jobscan, a web-based AI tool that can help you tailor your resume correctly.

Finally, remember to reach out to Jobready2dey for all of your resume writing needs! Also, follow us on our LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter company pages!

Dead-End Resume Avoided!

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  1. Thanks, @jobready2dey! The points in your article sound good. Also, I think that for anyone who is searching for employment after not having done it for several years should be informed about current trends in resume-writing and job application procedures in general.