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My Resume Sucks! (so here’s what to do about it)

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

It doesn’t need to suck – follow these 15 steps and your resume will rock!

One of the biggest concerns job hunters share is a lack of confidence in their resume. What they also share are the same mistakes when they write it. I’ve got some simple fixes you can make right now to make your resume something to be proud of.

  1. Stop writing about what you were responsible for – instead write about what you achieved. Readers of your resume are mostly interested in your skills, your experience, your talent, and how you apply it. The best way of expressing this is writing about your achievements. Your statements about your achievements should be results-oriented and as specific as possible. Use numbers where possible, as these have the greatest impact.
  2. Stop trying to create a piece of artwork – instead, lay it out simply. A resume shouldn’t be written using fancy fonts and table structures. Chances are, your resume is going to be run through a machine that’s going to strip out all your formatting anyway. It’s a waste of time.
  3. Take off your references. References will be taken on request anyway. Some industries and roles demand it. But also don’t write ‘available on request’ too – not required and you’re telling the reader what they will already know.
  4. Stop writing about the religious, political or social aspects of your life. You’re inviting discrimination – even though this is illegal – you can’t stop it when it has happened. Don’t be cast aside at the resume stage! Besides, these things are irrelevant.
  5. Stop writing about irrelevant experience – stay on message. If it ain’t relevant, don’t write it. OK, gaps in your resume are no good either, but if you can present a great resume without including irrelevant experience, then take that option.
  6. Stop writing about your hobbies too. Nobody really cares. Use the space on your resume for other things. Hobbies and interests are a waste of paper. You’d be really lucky to find a reader who will offer you an interview just because you share an interest. And it can count against you too. Into hunting? The reader might be thoroughly against it.
  7. Stop writing about low-grades and sub-standard performance. Really? Need I say why this isn’t a good thing to put on your resume. You’re handing the reader a reason to chuck your resume in the trash. Stating you passed is enough. But don’t lie about your grades – get rumbled on this and you’re through!
  8. Stop writing about your schooling – only graduate experience is relevant. Unless you’re gunning for your very first job, don’t include your schooling. It is not relevant whatsoever.
  9. Lose the photo! No matter what you look like, lose the photo. Bin it now. You’re putting yourself at risk of discrimination.
  10. Stop overusing cliche words, like passionate. I groan every time I see the word passionate on a resume. Truth is, very few people are truly passionate about their work. So why is it overused? When you use words on your resume, make sure they are justifiable and demonstrable.
  11. Stop presenting a wall of words, rather than highlighting important keywords. If your resume is comprised of long paragraphs with lots of words in it, you’re making it more difficult to scan with the eye. Experiment with using line breaks and bold type to emphasise important skills, experience and competencies. Don’t go mad though!
  12. You haven’t included your core competencies. A big oversight, but it often happens. Make sure that your resume, at the very least, represents the core competencies required by your jobs and industry. Things like task management, planning, computer skills, etc These things are picked up by the software recruiters use, and if they’re not evident in your resume, then you won’t get a look in!
  13. You’re all over the place. Is your resume using a coherent and consistent language and structure? Does it flow well? Resumes are often organic documents, not written in entirety in one sitting – which can mean the way it is written can come across as fragmented.
  14. Be clear on your specialisms and what you are practitioner in. You may have broad experience, and/or a broad skill set, but sometimes less is more. Make sure that your resume is totally clear on what you’re a specialist at!
  15. Stop trying to be clever with words, and get to the point. I’ve read countless resumes that ramble on using buzzwords and marketing language, but fail to get to the nub of it. Readers want to see the sausage, not the sizzle. Try giving your resume to your mom/dad, or a relative who knows little about the intricacies of your work, and get them to describe your career history and profile. How does it sound when it’s played back to you?
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This post is part 15 of 15 in the series Building a Powerful Resume
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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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SimonStapleton.com located at Watledge , Stroud, UK . Reviewed by 10,923 readers rated: 9.5 / 10
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