4 Things You're Doing Wrong on Your Resume

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: April 2, 2012

Stand Out in a Crowd

Hiring managers see thousands upon thousands of resumes every year. That's why job seekers have to stand out in a crowd if they harboring any hope they'll be hired.

When you're writing a resume, what you don't know can hurt you. John Kalusa is a nationally recognized writer who speaks about corporate sales, recruiting, and personal career management. With over 25 years of experience as a strategic recruiting, human resources, and sales and marketing management leader in start-ups and Fortune 250 companies, he's well qualified to comment on what the hiring manager wants to see.

And also what they DON'T want to see.

Mistake #1: Failing to Highlight Your Strengths

Too many job seekers fail to incorporate a direct match between what you offer and the employer's requirements. After all, your resume isn't just about you. You want the recruiter or interviewer to say “Hey, we should talk to this person!” Once you've covered all the bases, Kalusa says “If you have room left, add statements to highlight your added value. Be hard on yourself and try to be as objective as possible."

“For each of the requirements or position responsibilities, try to match your past experiences or skills to those requirements. Write the bullet point so it comes across as more than just a description of your activity. Try to think like the hiring manager. What is the problem they are trying to solve? How can you concisely say that you have the experience to solve their problem or deliver the value they seek?”

Mistake #2: Applying to Jobs Even If You're Not Qualified

Don’t apply if you aren’t qualified. Period. End of story.

“If you aren’t nearly a 100% match for the key requirements, you will do yourself a disservice by applying," Kalusa says. "It’s like saying, ‘I’m so glad you spent a lot of time to come up with the requirements so that you can find qualified and motivated people, but I don’t match those requirements.  But I'm certain there’s a place for me here so please look at my resume anyway because I'm sure if you do you'll see I'm highly qualified for something.” 

Mistake #3: Including Outdated or Irrelevant Work Experience

Don’t make it an encyclopedia or a run-on laundry list of everything you've ever done in your career.

According to Kalusa, "More is rarely better, but targeted with some flavor is always better. The rule of thumb I use is: 5 to 8 bullet points for your current/last position (depending on length), 3 to 5 for each of the positions going back 10 years and after that 1 (2 at most) for earlier positions."

Mistake #4: Your Resume is WAY Too Long

Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to read a book, so make your resume easy to read.

"Think about the solutions/values/results you helped to create and deliver," Kalusa says. "Depending on how much experience you have and how much of that experience is appropriate for the position you are applying for, two pages should be more than enough. Remember, your resume is a marketing brochure, not a catalog!"

Recommended Reading

We hope you've enjoyed this article and found it helpful. As a bonus, the Salary.com editorial staff has compiled a recommended reading list for more tips on how to write successful resumes that help you get hired. Good luck!

  • Unbeatable Resumes: America's Top Recruiter Reveals What REALLY Gets You Hired
  • The Job Search Solution: The Ultimate System for Finding a Great Job Now!
  • Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer
  • The Resume.com Guide to Writing Unbeatable Resumes
  • The Resume Handbook: How to Write Outstanding Resumes & Cover Letters for Every Situation

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