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That’s why it’s surprising to me and my team members, having looked over thousands of resumes as both interviewers and advisors, to see critical mistakes in the writing of over 90% of the resumes that we review. These mistakes can hold a candidate back — when there are hundreds of candidates for a competitive position, bland and unmemorable just doesn’t cut it.
Avoid these mistakes to write a resume that stands out:
Mistake 1: Boring Words
When applying for tech jobs, people sometimes think that the wording used on their resume matters less than if they were applying to less technical positions, but this is not the case. Even if you are a developer, using the word “developed” at the beginning of every sentence will not impress or interest the recruiter.
Be thoughtful with your wording and ensure that you are highlighting the most important pieces of work you have completed. Showcase the impact of your work by starting your bullets with impact-driven words and quantify your successes by scale or results. For example:
• Accomplished company goal of launching a new product using machine learning to expedite the process by five hours a week
• Implemented an entirely new process for reserving rooms in the office, resulting in a 20% reduction in booking conflicts
Mistake 2: General Content
The job application process can feel endless at times, making it difficult to see what has an impact and what does not. I’m here to tell you that tailoring your resume directly to the job(s) for which you are applying is worth the extra time. When companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to parse resumes, they set the system up to look for keywords from the job description. If your resume is missing these exact keywords, you will not make it through to the next round. It’s that simple.
Even when a company is not using an ATS, the first round of review is often a recruiter looking for those words. So, make sure you update your resume to match exactly. For example, if the job description says, “Adobe Creative Cloud,” and your resume says, “Adobe Suite,” it is in your best interest to make that change.
Mistake 3: Missing Context
I also see that people often don’t provide enough context to their resume statements. Context creates a story to your work and piques the interest of the reviewer, whereas routine descriptions and mechanical implementation details will just bore them. Here’s an example of a statement that needs more context:
• Developed a web app using Ruby on Rails and React that allowed for operations management
And here’s an example of a statement with good context:
• Developed a web app using React to manage operations for an NGO that pairs refugees with host families and provides them with stability in their new homes
See the difference? It is always better to be more specific, even if that makes your sentences longer. Of course, it’s important to keep your resume to one page, so you can make use of columns (max: two) and bold fonts/colors to highlight important keywords.
What These Tips Look Like In Practice
Here are a couple examples of bad resume sentences that we turned into good resume sentences and why they had greater impact.
Bad: Created a larger social media presence by blogging on the company website and writing ads that promoted housing options
Good: Spearheaded social media and advertising efforts, generating leads that contributed to selling 30-plus properties worth over $20M in total
Reasons why the second sentence is better:
• “Spearheaded” is a stronger intro word than “created.”
• We included a specific description of the work done (rather than “blogging” and “writing”), while still maintaining a low word count to leave room to talk about impact.
• It shows the impact of leads generated.
• It also quantifies properties sold and their worth in dollars.
Bad: Aided undergraduate students with understanding of code, homework, projects and general topics.
Good: Taught 200-plus hours of office hours, going above and beyond by investing triple the average expected teaching time of a TA.
Reasons why the second sentence is stronger:
• “Taught” is a stronger opener than “aided.”
• This sentence quantifies the number of hours.
• It also provides context on that number, explaining how much extra effort it required.
With this knowledge and these examples, take a look at your current resume to see how you can enhance and optimize the work you have written about. Your resume is the first chance for recruiters and hiring managers to learn about you, so make as strong of an impression as possible. If you do, you’ll likely see an increase in callbacks and get one step closer to landing your dream job.
May 8, 2019 at 09:44AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs