"Instead of wowing employers, I spend most of my time defending weaknesses on my resume. What gives?"
As a young jobseeker in my twenties, I'd purposefully go out of my way not to dress up for interviews and networking events. Business casual dress code? Who cares, I'll wear sneakers and a t-shirt. After all, if they didn't see the value I was bringing to the table, why bother dressing up?
You can probably guess what happened: I lost out on amazing opportunities. Call it superficial, but most people made a snap decision based on what I wore and dismissed me out of hand.
The same principle goes for your resume. Unless you "dress for success" through providing a bulletproof document, it's either going to be ignored or picked apart during the interview. Even worse, you'll constantly feel insecure about your worth- and that rarely leads to successful outcomes.
Here are 3 major resume confidence-killers, and how to address them:
1. Excessive honesty
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. A resume is not a legal document. It's a marketing document that advocates on your behalf, and serves as a shield against the arrows that will be launched against you during the hiring process. You don't get extra points by including information that makes you look weak, or raises a potential red flag.
Frequent offenders include:
-Explaining why you were let go at a job. Nope, nope, nope! Don't waste a word on this in your resume. Instead, prepare an answer for the interview that makes it seem like moving on was the best move in light of your career goals. Mentioning it within the resume automatically turns it into a bigger issue than it needs to be.
-Low-level job titles. Let's say the official title of your current job is Senior Marketing Manager, but for the past year you've been filling the shoes of a Marketing Director, handling all of the responsibilities, racking up accomplishments at this level, etc. Instead of stubbornly keeping the Senior Marketing Manager title, why not change it to Interim Marketing Director instead? You'll instantly come across at this higher level, and can "sell" employers more easily. The only caveat is making sure that any references at your company can support this assertion. If so, change away!
-Not including education because you didn't graduate (or haven't graduated yet). Your education and training is valuable, regardless of whether you graduated or not! If you studied for your MBA but never graduated, you can list it as follows: Master of Business Administration Coursework, XYZ University (End Year). If you're currently in the process of completing it, you can list it as: Master of Business Administration, XYZ University (Expected Graduation Month/Year).
-Trying too hard to share the credit for successes. What sounds better: "Contributed to 30% uptick in top-line revenue through new lead generation and prospecting strategy, combined with dedicated sales staff training in tandem with Director of Sales, Director or Marketing, and key managers." Or simply: "Delivered 30% top-line revenue growth through new lead generation and prospecting strategy, combined with dedicated sales staff training" Employers understand that big things happen in collaboration with others. Don't waste space on your resume reiterating this.
-Spending equal amounts of time on each job. Only emphasize those jobs that are DIRECTLY RELEVANT to the type of position you want. If you're seeking a Head of Strategic Innovation position, then positions which highlight your abilities in this area should form the bulk of the resume. Non-relevant positions can be condensed, or lumped together in a bulleted "Other Experience" section.
2. Low-level responsibilities
The more time you spend listing responsibilities, especially those which are taken for granted at your level, the less confident you'll seem. Employers don't want to hire someone who can simply fulfill basic requirements. They want to know: How did you move the ball forward? How did you win against the odds? How did you add value when others couldn't?
Start positions with a "Scope Statement" which offers an overview of how you improved things. Here's an example:
Excelled as a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 clients, transforming competitive edge and delivering multimillion-dollar wins across Product Development, Supply Chain and Procurement optimization, and creating Collaborative Ecosystems.
Everything after the "Scope Statement" should be bulleted accomplishments which prove it. The more metrics you can provide here, the better.
3. Lack of "X-factor"
Don't get so caught up in tailoring your resume to fit a job posting that you forget to communicate what makes you special! Yes, you should probably have most of the "must have" qualifications mentioned in a job posting to be competitive. But once that's established, it's all about winning people over through your unique perspective and value-added skills. If you're an amazing coach/mentor, or write an influential industry blog, or regularly volunteer your time to help out in the community, highlight them within the resume! It's this x-factor that can mean the difference between "Thanks for coming in" and "When can you start?"
Anish Majumdar is an internationally recognized Career Coach, Executive Resume Writer, and LinkedIn Expert. His posts and videos reach a combined audience of 30M professionals every month.
Take part in Anish's free webinar training on Generating New Career Opportunities ON DEMAND in the Age of LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/2nT3Tfc
Browse Open Jobs