The 5 Failures of Resume Writing and How to Fix Them

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The 5 Failures of Resume Writing and How to Fix Them

An exemplary resume is like a can’t-miss sales pitch. You must always tailor it to present essential selling points to persuade buyers, make professional connections, and secure deals. When the sale has been made, the pitch is pocketed for another day.

Similarly, a well-written resume highlights your finest accomplishments, often creating the first impression that prompts an employer to give you a second look. Once you land the job, though, the one- to two-page document is similarly tucked away until it’s needed once again.

This is National Update Your Resume Month, a great opportunity to break the pattern and dig out your resume – whether you plan to be using it anytime soon or not. There are five specific mistakes many job hunters make when crafting their resumes, and today can be the day we fix them.

Spelling and Grammatical Errors

I know what you’re thinking, but yes, it really does need to be mentioned. There is no room in a stellar resume for sloppiness. If an employer notices small mishaps happening throughout your resume (or even once), this prospective boss will naturally assume editing your work is not a task you know how to complete. If for no other reason, proofread for your pride – it will be damaged if a typo results in a missed job opportunity.

Absence of a Cover Letter

The benefits of a killer cover letter are all too often overlooked. A resume alone represents only a sliver of what you can bring to the employer’s table. By including a customized cover letter, you have the ability to separate yourself from other applicants who may have decided the extra page wasn’t necessary. By briefly explaining why your résumé should matter to the employer and how your experiences make you the best candidate for the job, a cover letter can serve as a platform to further sell yourself as a potential hire.

Too Much Fluff

Employers and recruiters read hundreds of resumes for various positions throughout the year. Fluffing the descriptions of your previous jobs and the skills you’ve acquired by adding unnecessary verbosity immediately waters down your resume, leaving it to get lost in the pile of other applicants. This is especially true in the world of strategic communications, where puffed-up language has been carefully analyzed and perfected in order to be utilized efficiently (see what I did there?).

Generalizing Your Outcomes

What you accomplished at your previous job shouldn’t, and honestly can’t, be the same outcome as the person you hope to replace. Basic descriptions of your general responsibilities only tell the prospective employer something they most likely already know. Our Sachs Media Group Executive Vice President Ryan Cohn advises, “A good way to solve this is by including numbers on your resume (e.g., ‘Managed the daily needs of 8 accounts’ or ‘Secured 54 news articles across industries including…’).” Don’t undersell yourself to employers – be confident in what you’ve accomplished in your career.

Unauthentic and Irrelevant Description of Skills

When it comes to the “Skills” section of your resume, there’s no reason to follow the trend of describing yourself in bland, overused terminology. There’s also definitely no reason to include a skill that has no connection whatsoever to the job you’re applying for. You may be a “team player” and “great communicator,” but so are many of the other applicants vying for the same job. Get specific, but don’t bombard the space with little details either. This section of your resume is a place to further discuss what skills you acquired and/or honed during your previous experiences in order to make your resume – and therefore YOU – as appealing as possible.

So many factors go into determining whether you’ll get the job you’re after. But if you avoid these five common pitfalls, you will give yourself the best chance to show what you’ve got to offer.

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