Top 5 Problems with Your Resume (And How to Fix Them)

 In Career Tips

Focus on your resumeIf you’re thinking about starting a job search, you’re probably giving your resume some attention…and it’s very likely that you’ve got some problems to fix.

It seems that resumes are the first place we go when we’re in job search mode.  This document is a representation of us as it relates to our work experience and skills. It’s one of the most tangible elements in our job search, so we go to updating our resume as a sign of our control over the process.  The resume is our personal brochure; one that gives a guided tour through our past in the hope that one of those juicy morsels will tantalize a hiring manager enough to give us a call.

Before you hit the computer to create your resume, know that there are  some common problems that haunt many resumes. The good news is that with a little forethought these problems can be avoided. Many job seekers get caught up with the perfect format.  “Should I use the functional or chronological?”  The issues I have seen with resumes almost always have to do with content.  Of course, there are a few random format issues, but they are minor in comparison.

I’d like to identify the basic concept of the resume first in order to truly help you understand the content issues I’m about to mention.  A resume is a sales tool.  You are selling yourself.  You are packaging yourself in such a way that a hiring manager can make a decision about how closely you align with their needs, which will always entail more than what was included in the posted job description.

Hiring is a pain in the backside and the hiring manager wants to do it as infrequently as possible.  They also want to think that they don’t have to over manage you to get the work done and perhaps be able to use you in multiple ways in the future. To summarize what the hiring manager is wanting: they are looking for the content.  With that thought in mind, here are some of the biggest issues I have seen with resumes:

Too long, too verbose – If you have decades of great experience, you don’t need to tell everyone about all of it.  Even if you don’t have decades of experience, no one wants you to write the great American novel called your resume.  Your resume will go through several passes of review most of which will be only a cursory scan lasting 10-30 seconds.  That means it will not be “read” it will be skimmed in an attempt to find the key words that will trigger a deeper and closer examination.

Too vague = air sandwich – I have yet to figure out how someone with any work experience can produce a resume that leaves you scratching your head wondering what the person used to do for a living.  Such resumes can even have lots of words on them but they are working so hard at trying to not commit to anything they commit to nothing.

You can’t be vague in your resume.  You must tell the story of what you did and what makes you stand out from the crowd.  Even if you are trying to change careers, you can still tell your story while focusing on the transferable skills that you can use in that new career.  Sometimes I think the people with these resumes have asked too many people their opinion and in the process edited out all of the interest. Design by committee, as it were.

Not written with the hiring manager in mind. The real sell in your resume is to tell the reader what your personal brand really is.  What were you known for?  What were your accomplishments?  Of course, you need to give your job title a context by outlining your responsibilities.  Your responsibilities can help create the picture, particularly if you give them size and shape (more on that next).

The hiring manager wants to know if you can perform and how well you did it.  Answer their questions before they have to ask.  If you have data to help back up your story, add that.  If you don’t, then what about things like timeliness for schedules, numbers of items you produced, customer feedback- anything that will give the hiring manager the message that you can get RESULTS.

Boring responsibilities.  Please if you are going to list your responsibilities, tell the story as you go.  How many accounts did you manage?  How many calls did you handle?  How many people reported to you?  You don’t add all that much more space when you give your responsibilities size and shape.

Listen to this:  Which sounds more impressive?  Managed a group of customer service reps OR Managed 15 customer service reps.  That definitely helps the hiring manager understand the scope of what you did.  You don’t have to simply list the most key or critical responsibilities.  Put some dimension and size to your responsibilities and that will weave your story well without getting lengthy.

Use of jargon. Using terms that are not in the general public is jargon and is not good for your resume.  We can all be guilty of this one.  After you work in a place for a while, you develop a language that is helpful in your environment. That language will rarely translate well to other employers.  Create a resume that uses language that most of us will understand. Avoid the use of undefined acronyms.  Obviously, if you are in a technical profession you will have to use words that are unique to your profession. This is an acceptable exception to this rule.

When creating a resume, your format and layout will be the easiest part of it to create.  There are literally thousands of great examples online and in books for you to emulate.  You want to spend your time focusing on the content that is going to sell you.  You are the only one that knows all of the great things you have accomplished and which of those accomplishments will allow you to stand out amongst your competitors.  Creating your resume is not the time to be modest, so give yourself a break and shine a light on your personal brand.

Remember  the purpose of your resume is to create enough interest for you to get a call and interview.

Can you Count on your Resume?  Not sure? Here’s the help you need: Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a Career Coach and expert on helping her clients achieve their goals.  Her programs cover: Career growth and enhancement, Career Change, Retirement Alternatives and Job Search Strategy.  Want to discover specific career change strategies that get results?  Discover how by claiming your FREE gift, Career Makeover Toolkit at:

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