Top Reasons Resumes Are Rejected – Too Bland and GenericMar 26th, 2011 | By Bill | Category: Employment News, Resumes
Check out this imaginary resume, used to apply for a job as admin assistant at a small and also imaginary company:
Objective: Team player wishing to use skills to obtain employment in challenging office environment. Skills include:
MS Office, Simply Accounting
Excellent communication skills, verbal and written
Highly organized, thrives in fast paced environment
Wowee Widget Company 2004-present
Duties:Filing, bookkeeping, photocopying, greeting and serving customers. Also did bank deposits and answered phone.
Let’s stop there, because that’s probably as far as the employer will read, seeing as he has 300 other resumes to get through. Now, what have we learned about Julie? Well, we’ve learned that she’s an admin assistant who does…stuff that admin assistants do.
If you were the employer, would you jump at the chance to hire her? Would you read this resume and think, “Wow! Having her in our office would be like a shot in the arm! We’d look forward to coming in every morning!” Ummm…no.
Would it surprise you to know that Julie is a charismatic, energetic, popular and loyal employee? That she is trilingual plus she signs fluently in American Sign Language? That she came up with a brilliant marketing idea that made the Wowee Widget Company $20,000 in one week, an idea that came to her when she was serving as a volunteer at a building project in Namibia? Of course it would surprise you! How could you possibly know any of this if you’d never met her and only read her resume? How could the employer?
Your resume is your most important marketing tool. You have 15 seconds to grab the hiring manager’s attention and make him or her think, “Hmmm. Interesting. I think I’ll read further.” Bland and personality-free resumes just won’t do this in a time where one job posting can bring in stacks of resumes. So what should you do?
Be an individual: Figure out what makes you special and let your resume reveal this, and the sooner in the resume the better. Right in the Profile section, sum yourself up in a few concise sentences, using words and phrases that are as free of clichés as possible. Show the employer what you have to offer them, not what they can do for you. Show that you’re special, and that they’d be lucky to have you as an employee.
Stress achievements, not responsibilities:Just writing the words “administrative assistant” or “sales manager” will give most employers a pretty good idea of what kind of thing you did at your previous jobs. Of course, you still need a sentence or two to outline the job, more if it was a complicated or unusual job, and you do need to get those keywords in your resume, but what you want to highlight are the things you achieved at that job. Did you come up with a new process that saved everyone time and money? Did you work on a project that was highly successful? Did you do something extra, something beyond the call of duty? If so, be sure to mention it – perhaps in a short bulleted list of job highlights or achievements, right under your brief job description.
Have a career highlights list:If you’ve had a fairly long and successful career, choose the top two or three highlights to put in a special bulleted section just under your Profile or Qualifications summary. A sentence or two for each will do, with more details coming later under the job description.
Use testimonials: Something that can be very effective on resumes when appropriate is testimonials. They can be very simple yet eye-catching, particularly if they’re from someone known in the community, and they tend to carry a lot of weight and make someone stand out from the crowd. Pull out a sentence or two from a letter of reference, an award, or perhaps a letter from an employer commending your performance. Just be sure you have permission from the person you’re quoting, because you’ll have to include their name and position. (The phrase “Julie Jobseeker is a fabulous admin assistant!” with no name looks highly suspicious. ) Also, make sure to use a work reference, not a personal one, preferably one that relates directly to the job you’re applying for. So the quotation, “Julie made great lattes when she worked here,.” would be helpful if she were applying for work at a restaurant or coffee house, but would probably be worse than useless when applying to be an administrative assistant, as would “No one works harder or has more integrity than Julie!” if it were a quote from Julie’s Mom.
So how does Julie’s resume look now?
Profile: Energetic and organized administrative assistant, with a talent for streamlining office practices to make them more efficient and cost-effective. Disciplined and amiable. Known for going the extra mile to keep the customers happy.
Mastery of MS Office, Simply Accounting
Excellent communication skills, verbal and written, in English, Spanish and Chinese (plus ASL)
Highly organized, with a talent for multitasking and staying on track while under pressure
“Julie is a consummate professional as well as a popular employee. She keeps everything running smoothly with her expertise and charming personality.” Al Wowee, President, Wowee Widget Company
Wowee Widget Company 2004-present
Filing, bookkeeping, photocopying, greeting and serving customers. Do bank deposits and answer phone.
Received Wowee Employee of the Year award (out of 100 employees) two years running.
Conceived and implemented highly successful Widget giveaway campaign that made the company $20,000 in one week, or 150% over expected revenue.
Organized and ran the yearly Wowee Marathon For Charity, raising a total of almost $3M over the last 5 years.
Better, don’t you think? This resume presents Julie as a real person; someone who might be a highly desirable employee for your company. (Too bad she’s imaginary.)
So stop using a bland, boring and generic resume – give it some personality. Give it your personality.
Lorraine E. Wright is the owner of 21st Century Resumes, a company that designs technology-friendly, attention-grabbing resumes and cover letters. She customizes them uniquely for each job seeker, so they stand out in today’s crowded and competitive job market. To get a free assessment of your own resume, go to http://21stcenturyresumes.ca
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