GUEST COLUMN: Save your resume from round file fate
October 23, 2011
“I’ve sent out over 100 resumes and haven’t received any responses!”
How many times have your heard this from a neighbor, friend or relative who is desperately seeking work? Maybe you have said it yourself.
There’s no doubt that the job market is a crazy place to navigate these days. With the California unemployment rate at 12.1 percent and that of South Lake Tahoe above 13 percent, it can be discouraging at best.
Since the economic downturn began in late 2008, jobs are scarce. The postings that do arise are swept up swiftly.
Professionals, who normally seek higher paying, more technical jobs, now find themselves competing with their children for employment in fast food or other minimum wage positions, just to keep food on the table.
So what do the tough do when the going gets tough? They step up their game. Let’s face it, there is a lot of competition to crush and the good enough approach just doesn’t cut it.
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Let’s get back to those resumes you’ve sent out and then imagine your prospective employer sitting in front of a big stack, yours included, along with many competitors for the same job. How does she find the best candidates while understaffed, overworked, with little time to waste? The simple truth is she uses the process of elimination. That’s right, she looks for reasons to eliminate your resume.
Think of your resume as a living document, ever changing. You will tweak, tailor and modify it to fit each job for which you apply. It should contain all of the relevant keywords in the job description. Each job description is different as should be your resume to identify the matches and highlight your compatibility. List your relevant skills prominently and prioritize them in order of importance.
Here are a few tips on how to stay in the game and see to it that your resume makes the cut without falling victim to the infamous round file.
Top reasons resumes are rejected:
1. Sloppiness, grammar, misspellings
This goes without saying but cannot be emphasized enough. With computers and the tools they provide, spelling and grammatical errors are avoidable. If the applicant doesn’t take time to run a spelling check, it gives the impression of an “I don’t care attitude.” Coffee stains, smudges and wrinkled paper also provide a poor representation. Think of your resume as a sales document. You are the product.
2. Objective doesn’t match the job description
If you were looking for an accountant would you consider someone who listed secretary as his or her objective? This mistake occurs when the applicant does not take time to tailor their resume for the specific job to which they are applying. They assume a “one size fits all” approach. This simply doesn’t work.
3. Objective doesn’t match the resume
Okay, now you’ve listed accountant as your objective. But then you continue with all of your fantastic qualifications as a secretary and fail to address the keywords. Again, one size does not fit all. Study that job description and know it well. How are you qualified for the desired position? Do you have an accounting background? If so, can the employer find your skills and knowledge for this position without searching?
4. Too long, crowded, poorly organized
Think of your resume as a 15-second document, the approximate time the employer will spend scanning it for relevant information. Too wordy, too crowded, hidden information stands a far better chance for exclusion. Eliminate unnecessary details. Organize your resume to highlight pertinent points. Don’t require the employer to dig for the desired skills, knowledge and abilities. If at all possible keep to one page. There is no need to go back more than 15 years.
5. Unexplained time gaps
After all, it’s been a while since you’ve worked, right? If this is a concern, consider rounding to years and eliminating months. Never hesitate to include volunteer work, schooling, or unpaid work. Do not sell yourself short. If it’s relevant to the job, list it.