12 Simple Mistakes That Could Sink Your Resume

Sinking Boat

Any IT professional worth their salt knows employers automatically reject resumes littered with typos and grammatical errors. Or that resumes need keywords to survive resume screening and selection software. But what other mistakes are you making that could be secretly hindering your efforts?

Here are 12 stealthy–but correctable–problems that could be plaguing your resume and stifling your search.

1. It doesn’t tell a compelling story.

The goal of a resume is to unequivocally demonstrate why you’re the best professional for the job. Creating a persuasive argument starts with a theme. Weave your competitive advantages into your opening headline and profile, then provide relevant examples and supporting documentation. Without a storyline, your resume will be unfocused, unmoving and unsuccessful.

2. It’s all about you.

Your resume is not something you create for yourself. It should offer value to a prospective employer by outlining your solutions to their most pressing needs and problems. Write your resume from the perspective of what you can do for the IT manager, not what he can do for you.

3. It’s too generic.

You’ll have a hard time garnering interest if you use the same cookie-cutter resume for development, project management and architecture jobs. At a minimum, IT managers want to see that you’ve read the job description and possess a basic understanding of their needs.

4. It doesn’t convey your passion for technology.

Passion frequently trumps skills when it comes to IT. Your resume should include a list of outside activities that fuel your passion for technology including open source projects, coding samples and reviews, blog posts and meetups.

5. It stretches the truth.

Occasionally IT professional allege prowess with technical tools and programs they don’t really know. When they discover your misrepresentations, hiring managers are bound to question your character and integrity. Avoid embarrassment by accurately portraying your proficiency level with programming languages and tools in your skills summary and work experience bullets.

6. It lacks punch.

Did you create a technical solution or assist with a project? Ho-hum. Powerful verbs and adjectives paint a picture for the reviewer and bring your resume to life.

7. It offers inconsistent information.

Does the information in your online profile conflict with your resume? Since over 90 percent of recruiters source candidates on social media at some point, they’re bound to compare your resume with your online information. Be sure they sync up.

8. It lists a hodgepodge of technical tasks and responsibilities.

Random experience bullets exhibit poor organization and problem-solving skills. Be crystal clear about your ability to do the job by omitting superfluous experience and prioritizing pertinent skills and achievements. For instance, back-end developers should list experience with Python and NoSQL above JavaScript or HTML5. You can’t miss as long as the skills in your resume mirror the requirements in the job description.

9. It doesn’t describe your impact.

Executing routine tasks isn’t noteworthy. Describe your impact by specifically outlining what you achieved and who benefitted from your work. Create value by offering bulleted achievement summaries, project addendums and quantifying or monetizing your accomplishments. Finally, validate your claims by inserting salient quotes from former managers and colleagues.

10. It fails to clarify your previous roles.

What’s the difference between a junior and entry-level Java programmer? End the mystery by providing a brief description of previous roles and responsibilities. Doing so not only helps the reviewer, it lets you devote precious resume space to meaningful achievements rather than lists of routine tasks.

11. It raises more questions than it answers.

Do you explain employment gaps? Or why you’re interested in a job in Philadelphia when you live in San Francisco? Appease risk-averse employers by anticipating and answering their questions and concerns.

12. It doesn’t show promise or progression.

Even if you haven’t scored a promotion lately, showcase your potential by noting increases in responsibility, mentoring relationships, mastery of stretch assignments and progressively complex projects. IT managers are looking to fill current and future needs when they hire, so they tend to select candidates who demonstrate the ability to learn, progress and grow.

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Image: Adam Bangay/Shutterstock.com

Comments

  1. BY Don Anderson says:

    Re:11
    How do you explain employment gaps in a resume? An example here would have been good. Also keeping in mind that resumes are to be terse. I usually leave the explanation of such gaps for the interview.

    • BY Mark Feffer says:

      Hi Don:

      We’ve got a story on addressing those gaps here:
      http://news.dice.com/2009/04/23/ask-the-it-career-doctor-how-do-i-handle-gaps-in-my-resume/

      If you’ve got more questions, let us know.

      Best,

      Mark

    • BY Dan Pollak says:

      Don,

      There should never be a gap in your employment history. The first time that I was given a resume with a gap, I told my boss that I figured that the guy was in prison to be ironic. We researched it before offering the interview & found that he was indeed in prison for stealing equipment from his previous employer.

      I recommend listing gaps as periods of self employment with a basic enough description for the potential employer to bring it up at the interview.

      Dan

  2. BY chris atkinson says:

    Great tips! However, I stopped reading after tip 2 because I got confused. Are resumes written for inclusion in a trough to feed hungry UNIX livestock?

    Chris Atkinson
    Recruiter
    MegaPath

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