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It is hard to read your own resume with a critical eye. You know yourself too well. It’s hard to get perspective on your own background.
Pick an honest and forthright friend to review it for you, and ask them to tell you what they think of it.
Your resume might be scaring employers away. If you are applying for lots of job openings but you aren’t hearing anything back, this could be your problem. How would you know?
They never tell you “Here’s the problem we ran into when we reviewed your resume.” They just go silent, and you keep using the same resume over and over.
1. Lots of short-term jobs in a row (with no explanation)
2. Non-traditional, zigzag career path, unexplained
3. Precipitous drops in altitude (e.g., a switch from an executive-level job to a nearly entry-level job)
4. Your formal education doesn’t match your career history
5. Long-term or multiple employment gaps (periods of unemployment)
6. No obvious intersection between your resume and the job spec
7. Lots of typos and misspellings in your resume
8. Industry jargon from a different industry
9. You’re a non-local job candidate (and you don’t explain why)
10. You’ve been a manager in the same function as the non-management job you’re applying for now (screeners will wonder “Why does this applicant want to take a step down?”)
People who review and forward resumes are not typically especially senior. They may feel that they can’t put forward a candidate who has even one “blemish.”
They may feel that they could get in trouble, lose brownie points or even lose their jobs if they recommend an unsuitable candidate for hire.
That’s one reason resume screeners are often so timid. They seem to care much more about a job candidate’s match to the job spec (that is, a clerical match) than to the candidate’s actual story, their history or their accomplishments.
The key is to explain your background in your resume, whether you’ve had one or more employment gaps, a drop in altitude or some other career shift that might confuse the reader.
None of the issues on the list above have to be a big deal. You just have to put them in context.
You can address an employment gap in the Summary at the top of your resume, like this:
I’m a software-focused Project Manager with experience bringing large development projects from concept to launch, on time and under budget. Returning now from a one-year sabbatical I’m excited to help bring an outstanding new product to market.
If you are job-hunting remotely, you can explain your situation this way:
I am an Office Manager with an HR background who loves to keep a busy office working smoothly. I’m experienced in Payroll, Benefits and Employee Relations along with Office Management. Returning to Charlotte after ten years in New York, I’m eager to help a great company grow.
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