As a career recruiter and job search coach, I’ve read tens of thousands of resumes, and I have good news and bad news.
First, the bad news: most resumes really suck.
And yours probably does, too.
I know because I see many amazing people—talented, skilled, experienced, confident, creative and motivated people—who can’t get interviews because their resume makes them look downright boring.
Sometimes there’s not even a hint of a human being behind the words.
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If you read most resumes out loud, they sound choppy and mechanical and they use dry, dense language that often doesn’t even make sense. They drone on and at the end, you have no picture at all in your mind of a real live person.
On the other hand, the best resumes exude energy and personality.
The best resumes give a taste of who you are, communicate your brand promise, and make you look extraordinary.
They’re marketing pieces that show why you’re perfect for that job. They make people feel drawn to you.
Which brings me to the good news, which is actually the same as the bad news (once you get over any hurt feelings about your own resume).
And now the good news: most resumes really suck.
Why is that good news? Because it means it’s easy to rise above the competition.
And here’s the super-good news: a great resume is actually easier to create than those convoluted pages you toiled over. All you have to do is relax and be authentic.
Here’s how you do it:
- Write like you talk.
Corporate-speak and jargon make you seem boring, and they’re out of style anyway. Read your resume aloud and see if it flows. If not, rephrase it into conversational language. Be professional, but there should still be a feeling of the human you. Never write in the third person (see why your third-person resume creeps me out), and use the simplest and fewest words possible.
- Show your personality.
People are not robots, but you sure wouldn’t know that from most of the resumes I read, which have every grain of human quality stripped out of them. Use descriptive words, adjectives, even some casual slang if that suits your personality. Show some energy and enthusiasm, and that you have confidence in yourself.
- Tell your story.
Your resume is a story about you, not a fact sheet or a job description. Most people just offer long bullet lists of job duties. Boring. Stand out by making your resume interesting to read. Don’t assume the reader knows anything. Tell about the companies you worked for, what they do, how big they are, what was going on while you here there, and how you evolved in your job. Succinct but juicy.
- Make it readable.
If your resume gets past the computer, a real person will review it. Notice I don’t say “read” it. Most recruiters and busy hiring managers begin by scanning it for 15 or 20 seconds to check for key information like dates, titles and company names. The best resume format and layout makes it easy to see the important information easily.
- Make it beautiful.
You’re putting your resume out there to represent the best of you, so put some effort in. Resume designs should be clean and modern, make good use of white space, use one or two simple fonts and non-fussy formatting. Proofread it like crazy. If you don’t actually know how to format documents, get some resume help. Like a haircut, the best resumes are rarely the ones you did yourself.
So if you are feeling frustrated in your job search, use these five resume tips to help you transform your resume from sucky to lucky so you look like the extraordinary, awesome winner you actually are.
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