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Candidate Help & Advice

It Is the Résumé that is Holding You Back

Rejected Resume photo from ShutterstockCould this be? After all, it worked in the past and others who helped you with it made significant improvements. Despite that, vis a vis other outstanding resumes it pales and is ineffective. In order for your resume to propel you to the point that somebody considers you as a potential candidate it has to have at least the following elements. Above all the gist of the resume has to be written in a way that conveys the reader that you have what it takes to solve his problems and chances are that you will excel.

  • A strong career summary following the contact information. This is the first thing read. It sets the tone for the entire résumé. And it should be designed to attract, intrigue as well as compel the reader to keep reading more.
  • An attractive visual presentation. This means the résumé has to look good on paper. The ideal résumé design has lots of white space, looks clean, and invites the reader to want to learn more about the candidate. A résumé is merely a marketing tool—the first impression a potential employer has of you.
  • Passing the 10-second test. Résumés are being reviewed by recruiters and others who read many résumés and have to weed out worthwhile ones from those that are wastes of time. A professional reviewer does this for each résumé in 10 to 30 seconds. If it’s not attractive, your résumé will be discarded.
  • Evidence that you will be able to deliver. This is the reason you have to list your accomplishments. Don’t confuse accomplishments with tasks that someone in your position typically performs; the interviewer already knows the tasks just from your title. From the way many résumés are worded, they come across as doers, not strongly as achievers. The distinction between the two is decisive. This is a common mistake made by nonprofessional résumé writers. To be effective and create excitement, a great résumé helps the decision maker envision your delivering similar achievements at the decision maker’s company.
  • The right keywords. In addition to the human eye’s scan, most résumés nowadays get scanned into an applicant-tracking system and retrieved exclusively if they contain the right keywords based on a computer query. Keywords are critical because even the best applicant will miss the opportunity to compete if the résumé lacks the right keywords.

So, now the question becomes, what should be your next step? In principle, you have several options.

  • Based on the issues covered here, you can continue having people help you with your résumé or you can buy books, read articles, and work toward making your résumé more desirable.
  • You can engage a professional editor once you’ve finished your work on the résumé. That will assure you that it is perfect in terms of format, grammar, usage, spacing, punctuation, and more.
  • You can engage a professional résumé writer. Most of the professional résumé writers are accredited, certified, and experienced. Some are pretty good; others are outstanding. You’ll want to interview them first for your résumé and cover letter.