“Irene, I’ve sent out my resume to a dozen of recruiters and I haven’t heard back from anyone. I’ve spent hours tweaking and re-tweaking it, but I don’t know what else I can do. Please help!”

Unfortunately I hear this very, very often.

It’s a problem which you can easily solve by using my resume writing service, but if you’re not ready to commit to it yet, look over the following 12 points to understand why recruiters and hiring managers are skipping over your resume.


1. You Look Over-qualified / Under-qualified.

Your resume doesn’t match the level of skills, abilities and education required.

Sometimes this means you’ve included too much experience and come across as intimidating; sometimes it’s the other way around – your application is rejected because you didn’t allow yourself to brag.


2. Achievements Are Vague.

Your resume must quantify your achievements and spell them out in a way which demonstrates the value you’ve added to the company.

For example, “was responsible for managing relationships with European stakeholders” is nowhere near as effective as “conducted successful contract negotiations with XXXX Europe, resulting in savings of $3 million in 2013”.


3. Key Capabilities Aren’t Addressed.

This is one of the most difficult elements of writing a resume. You must understand which key capabilities and responsibilities hiring managers are looking for.

Conduct your own research into the role to ensure your resume addresses all key capabilities. Keep it to about 5-8 points per role.


4. Action Verbs Aren’t Used.

Word order and choice is important. Ensure you include the keyword towards the beginning of the sentence and you start each sentence with an action-oriented, past-tense verb.

For example: “Supervised a team of 25 service employees”.


5. Resume Looks & Feels Dated.

It’s important for your resume to have a modern, elegant, understated yet bold layout.

Unfortunately, most resumes which come across my desk have a cluttered, over-designed look to them, straight from the 1990’s. Make sure there’s plenty of white space to improve readability and that the design elements don’t overpower the content of your resume.


6. Vital Sections Are Missing.

Sometimes it’s easy to leave out a critical part of a resume. Sections which I see missing most often are:

  • summary of experience
  • personal profile, and
  • key capabilities

These should be tailored to you and your experience, as well as closely matched to the requirements of roles you’re interested in.


7. DOB & Marital Status Are Present.

These are completely irrelevant and don’t need to be on your resume. By leaving them in, you’re simply taking up valuable space which you could use to sell yourself.


8. Space Is Wasted With Referee Details.

These days, details of referees aren’t included because referee checks are conducted after the interview round. Writing “Referees Will Be Provided Upon Request” is the accepted practice.


9. Education Section Is Not Congruent.

This is also a difficult section to get right because only relevant qualifications must be included and only to the extent that they don’t make you look under- or over-qualified (see point 1).

Include names of qualifications, majors studied, grades obtained (if they’re brag-worthy), the institutions at which you obtained your qualifications and the years of completion.


10. Dates Lack Detail.

You must include the month that you commenced and ceases employment with each company (not just the year).


11. Formatting Is Inconsistent.

Nothing screams “poor attention to detail” more than an inconsistently formatted resume. Is the font the same size throughout? Are the bullets the same shape? Are you using the same indent? Are there missing commas or semicolons?

Have you performed a spell check?

It’s also a good idea to ask another person to proof-read your resume. As authors of our own work, we’re often blind to the grammatical and spelling error we make.


12. Resume Is Not Engaging.

Sometimes resumes do follow all the rules, but just lack that “X” factor which makes you want to pick up and read it from start to finish.

That can happen due to a multitude of reasons, but most often its due to a desire to make a resume “look good”, rather than communicate the reader what they need to know.

In other words, the overarching context is about the person on the resume rather than its target – usually the recruiter or HR manager.


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