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Resume Mistakes You Might Be Making

Resume Mistakes You Might Be Making

If you're out there on the job hunt, you know all too well how stressful and disheartening the process can be. Submitting application after application, perhaps garnering a few interviews, but nothing truly comes to fruition.

You can't help but wonder, "What is it about me that employers don't like?" Let us put your mind at ease by sharing this reminder:

Mostly likely, it's not you—it's your resume.

Luckily, there's always room for improvement. To learn more, Groups Today connected with Ashley Ward, founder and CEO of W Talent Solutions, who has conducted over 20,000 professional candidate interviews and has placed c-suite and president-level roles throughout the nation.

Ward shares that the digital era has revolutionized job applications, and that online platforms and ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) for applying have certainly become the norm. So it's safe to assume you'll be asked to submit your resume online. But before doing that, there are some boxes you'll need to check.

"To ensure your resume stands out, align it with the job description, focusing on qualifications and relevant experience," Ward advised. "More literally, do a side-by-side of the qualifications and your experience. Do you meet all the qualifications? Create an Excel sheet of the qualifications needed for the job and compare and contrast that to your actual experience."

It's also important, Ward explains, to emphasize a clean, concise format with clear dates and bullet points detailing responsibilities and achievements. Don't forget to incorporate both hard and soft skills, and to provide tangible numbers to quantify your accomplishments.

According to Ward, tailoring your resume for each individual application is crucial.

"Take a good look at the job description and make sure your resume shouts, 'I've got exactly what you're looking for!'" she said. "Highlight your experiences that match up with what they need—this shows you're not just throwing the same resume out to everyone, but that you're really interested in the role and have taken the time to align your skills with their needs."

Before submitting your application, Ward recommends being on the lookout for these additional frequently made errors:

  • Typos and Poor Formatting. "These suggest a lack of attention to detail. Always proofread your resume or have someone else review it."
  • Excessive Length and Unprofessionalism. "Keep your resume concise and professional. Avoid lengthy documents that bury important information."
  • Incorrect Contact Information. "Always double-check your contact details. A simple error here can cost you a job opportunity."
  • Neglecting Achievements. "Instead of just listing responsibilities, focus on what you've accomplished in those roles."

Last but far from least, don't forget to ask for a trusted second (or even third) opinion.

"Seek feedback on your resume from mentors or professionals in your field," Ward said. "Constructive criticism can lead to significant improvements."

In addition to avoiding missteps in your resume, it's also wise to examine any potential missed opportunities to show employers why you'd be a great addition to their team.

Don't shy away from showcasing your personality and including any skills, certifications and accreditations you've gained.

"Include extracurricular activities, volunteering and hobbies. These can demonstrate commitment, passion and a well-rounded personality," Ward said. "Also, highlighting unique skills, certifications and volunteer accomplishments can set you apart. These add credibility and show a commitment to professional development."

She also suggests having a dedicated "area of expertise" section of your resume, which can immediately grab an employer's attention.

Beyond the nuts and bolts of your actual resume, it's sensible to support your application with efforts that bolster your professional career now and in the future.

"Leverage professional networks like LinkedIn. Often, who you know can be as important as what you know," Ward explained, adding that your overall online presence should also be considered, as employers often research candidates online. "Ensure your online presence is professional and reflects your career aspirations."

Of course, it's equally as important to prioritize continuous learning by staying in the know with industry trends, skills and happenings. Employers will love seeing that you've taken it upon yourself to be adaptable and knowledgeable.

And don't forget your cover letter! Ward advises using it as an opportunity to tell your story and explain why you're the best fit for that specific role. One-size-fits-all generic content won't land you that dream role.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.

This article originally appeared in the Mar/Apr '24 issue of Groups Today.


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