How to Avoid Writing a Dead-End Resume
“Because a writer is a good writer, it doesn’t qualify them as a good resume writer. A resume writer must be a good writer, but he must also know the real 411 on writing a resume the right way.” – Kurtis T.
In April of this year, an assessment by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that about 3.5 million people in the United States were hired for the private sector and government jobs. Further research showed that in the same month, there were about 23.1 million people unemployed. A large percentage of those that were hired and those that were rejected for potential roles had to submit a resume to be considered for a job.
Analyzing the data above, we can see that there were possibly above 20 million people submitting resumes for open positions by the end of April! To streamline recruiting processes and keep up with a vast amount of applications, over 90% of Fortune 500 companies use Applicant Tracking Systems; keep in mind that many smaller companies are using them too. Around 75% of resumes don’t make it past an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for reasons that could be prevented!
Let’s do some math here; keep in mind we are assuming 20 million people were applying for jobs by the end of April. 75% of 20 million people is 15 million people. Because many applicants error in their resume writing strategy, only 5 million people made it past the ATS. This does not account for those who were not considered once the recruiter or hiring manager reviewed their resume. Crazy, right? It doesn’t have to be this way. Writing a resume requires time and effort, but when you do it right your return on investment will be well worth it.
In this article, I will show you how to avoid writing a dead-end resume.
A Quick Glimpse into the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) / The Most Effective Resume Type
Thousands of resumes are submitted for a limited number of available positions daily. Keeping up with applications via an Applicant Tracking System saves recruiters and hiring managers loads of time, and allows them to find qualified candidates quicker. Within the Applicant Tracking System, they can set specific qualifying criteria and those resumes that meet those requirements are brought to the top of the pile and reviewed.
The majority of the qualifying criteria will be found in their job description! This is why it is important to target your resume for each job you are applying for! For this reason, I’ve found that the “targeted resume” is the most effective resume type. This resume type will contain the right keywords to get your resume past the ATS and be strategically written to show the recruiter or hiring manager that you are the person they have been searching for.
Submitting a generic resume and thinking “the recruiter or hiring manager will see my experience and we can talk about everything else on the interview” is not a good strategy. Targeting your resume for each job may be time-consuming, but it’s needed to increase your chances of being called in for an interview!
Many job seekers hate the ATS because they believe the system is rigged against them. The system is in place to make things easier for those looking to bring talent on board. Wouldn’t you like systems to make your life easier? The simple solution would be to find out how the game works and play it accordingly; I just gave you the secret!
So far, to avoid writing a dead-end resume, we know that using a “targeted resume” is the most effective strategy. What other tips can we use to make sure our resume is on point? Here is a list of 8 dead-end resume writing habits to avoid. Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list, but adhering to these tips will help you in a big way!
8 Dead-End Resume Writing Habits to Avoid
- 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 manager anything they don’t already know. Therefore, it is not effective and should be avoided at all costs. Using a professional summary instead of an objective statement is a better choice. When strategically written, the professional summary can grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager and prompt him/her to continue reading your resume. Example Professional Summary:
“Computer Support Technician possessing over 10 years of experience with increasing system performance and reliability, computer upgrades, PC configurations, operating systems, databases, switches, problem analysis and resolution, and supporting service staff. Verifiable history of fostering positive community relations among team members and presenting information in a comprehensive way.”
See the difference?
- Avoid Using Personal Pronouns
Personal pronouns such as “I” (and the like), are implied when reading sentences on a resume. The resume should never read in the first person; always use third-person language.
- Avoid Using Too Many Bullet Points (In Your Work History)
Bullet points help to bring attention to important information 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. Recruiters or hiring managers will review your resume for 6-10 seconds on average, so adding a lot of information to “get their attention” is not necessary.
- Avoid Adding Your Entire Work History
Resumes should contain the last 10-15 years of your work experience related to the role you are applying for. Listing positions from 25-30 years ago is not necessary and could also work against you.
- Don’t Submit a long Resume
As mentioned above, your resume will be reviewed for a very short period providing it gets past the Applicant Tracking System. A long resume can cause the reviewer to skip to the next candidate for the sake of time. To avoid this mistake, keep this in mind; if you have under 10 years of experience, keep the resume to 1 page. If you have over 10 years of experience limit the resume to 2 pages; if needed.
- Avoid Unnecessary Formatting
This is one area that causes candidates to become part of the 75% we spoke about earlier. Stay away from headers, footers, symbols, pictures, emoji’s, text boxes, fancy fonts, templates, etc. Some of these things are not ATS friendly and will cause problems. Sticking with fonts like Calibri, Tahoma, and Georgia is advised, as they are ATS friendly. Font sizes 10-12pt are the best way to go; do not use extremely small or large fonts on the resume.
- Avoid Keyword Stuffing
It is important to have keywords from the job description strategically weaved throughout your resume to get past the ATS. If you don’t do this, your resume will likely fall into what’s called a black hole. 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!
- Avoid Weak Words at the Beginning of Sentences
All sentences in your work history should begin with power words. Power words give each sentence life for the reader. Examples of power words are 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.
The resume is not just about your skills! Learning what the employer desires in a candidate by way of the job description, and targeting the resume accordingly is the objective. Based on your targeted resume, you want the reader to see that you are the perfect candidate for the role you are applying for! Visit www.jobscan.co, an awesome web-based AI tool that can help you target your resume properly.