The job search process is tough. There's no point trying to sugar coat it.
You spend hours, days and sometimes weeks scouring the internet trying to find the right roles. You know the ones I'm talking about - the types of jobs where you'll be doing meaningful work for a company you respect, alongside smart and interesting people, while getting paid the salary you deserve.
And at the center of your job search is your resume. This single document is often what determines if you'll be invited to interview or not. So, of course you take the time to revise it. You include the right keywords, make sure your information is up to date and accurate and customize your resume for each job you're applying for.
But after applying for dozens (or even hundreds) of jobs online you haven't heard anything. Complete silence - and you have no clue what the issue is. Before you submit your resume to another job, read the eight mistakes you might be making that could be the reason why you're not hearing anything back.
1. You've Got Spelling & Grammar Errors
The number one thing to check on your resume before clicking ‘submit’ is your spelling and grammar. It's important that you don't just rely on spell check to catch errors — you've got to read, re-read and then ask someone else to read your resume to make sure you've accounted for 100% of any errors. There's absolutely no valid excuse for having spelling mistakes on your resume and recruiters will file it in the "no way" category if they find one.
2. You're Not Using the Correct Tense (Past vs. Present)
If you're describing something on your resume that's happened in the past, use the past tense. If you're speaking about a current role and current accomplishments, use the present tense. It may seem like a small detail, but it's not. Recruiters and hiring managers take this as a sign of your attention to detail. If you couldn't take the time to check your tense, what else will you not take the time to check if you were hired for the job?
3. You're Resume is Not Clear
The key to a compelling resume is: Clarity. Your resume should clearly explain to the reader what you do, what you've accomplished, and why your skills are a good match for the role. If you're applying to be a project manager, make sure your experience in that field is explained on your resume. A rule of thumb is that your resume should focus on the job you want, not just the jobs you’ve had.
4. Don't Use "Smart" Words
Your resume is not the place to be extra. If you don’t normally use certain language, don't try to include the most “smart-sounding” words you can find. The goal of your resume is to show how your experiences make you qualified for the role you're applying for and you should be able to explain this in the simplest way possible. Using big words just for the sake of using them is unnecessary (and annoying).
5. Your Delivery Format is Off
Don't let the hours you've spent formatting your resume and getting the bullet points to line up perfectly so that your entire work history fits on one to two pages go to waste by sending it over as a Microsoft Word doc.. Unless the job application specifically asks for you to send your resume via Microsoft Word, don't. Instead send it in PDF format. This will ensure your beautiful formatting stays in tact and recruiters can skim through it easily.
6. You're Not Including Any Specific Numbers
You've got to solidify your accomplishments with facts and figures. Some recruiters prefer to see actual numbers (such as “increased revenue by $100,000”), while others prefer percentages (“cut spending costs by 10 percent”). Either way, be as specific as possible and provide enough information to show the impact of your achievements.
7. Your Resume Isn't Easily Readable
Making sure your resume is readable is an important final check before submitting it. Not only do recruiters want to ensure you have the skills and abilities they're looking for, but they also want to make sure you can communicate in a clear and accessible way. Get rid of the clutter. Don't say in two pages what you can say in one. Don't use six bullet points, when four would be just fine. Make sure to leave some white, blank space for ease of reading. You've got to make it easy for a recruiter or hiring manager to skim your resume and see key points.
8. Exaggerating Your Accomplishments
You may thing it's no big deal to tell little white lies when it comes to how much you actually contributed on a project or when it comes to your skills - but it actually isn't. As you proofread your resume, besides checking for obvious mistakes, you should also check for fibs and exaggerations. Recruiters are pros at spotting these and it can become apparent very quickly when someone's accomplishments don't match their years of experience or overall story.
The job search process is challenging enough, don't make it harder for yourself by starting off on the wrong foot. Although it's a lot of work, it's critical to take the time to make sure your resume is representing you in the best possible light.