Bad Resume Examples and How to Improve Them
Whether you’ve determined that your resume is bad and needs a total rehaul or it’s in decent shape but could be better, there are a number of easily actionable ways to make it sparkle.
Here are some common bad resume examples and how to overcome them:
A Poorly Written Professional Summary
Since your professional summary is the first part of the resume that a hiring manager will read, making a good first impression is of the utmost importance.
First off, Callison advises educating yourself on the difference between the formerly-favored objective statement and a professional summary. “Objective statements should never be used,” she says. “They are outdated and they put the focus on what the job seeker is looking for rather than the value that the job seeker can bring to the potential employer.”
But not just any professional summary will do: “they are only effective if they are written in a way that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to continue reading to learn more,” Callison continues.
She advises omitting vague buzzwords like “results-driven” or “hard worker.” Instead, she says, “use this prime real estate on your resume to give concrete examples of what you have done and how that experience translates into making you a great fit for the position that the hiring manager is trying to fill.”
A Boring List of Job Duties
Did you know that boredom can cause a number of negative responses in the brain? That’s not the kind of impression you want to make on a hiring manager.
A common mistake Callison sees on resumes is boring, rote lists of job duties. “Bullet point after bullet point beginning with the phrase, ‘Responsible for…’ doesn’t do much to hold the reader’s interest or show what kind of accomplishments you’ve achieved throughout your career,” she says.
Rather than simply listing job duties, offer concrete examples of what your duties entailed, and keep your language dynamic. Callison suggests, “Keep the reader engaged by beginning each bullet point with an action verb, such as, ‘Created’, ‘Spearheaded’, or ‘Cultivated’, and be sure to vary the verbs that you use.”
Not Selling Yourself
Another common issue with the experience section?
Forgetting to sell yourself.
“Remember, this is a marketing document! It isn’t describing you, it’s selling you,” Roccia says.
Be brief, to the point, and try to find a dynamic way of expressing what you’ve done. “If you were an accountant, don’t tell me that you ‘created budgets and spreadsheets.’ Of course you did! Instead, tell me how much money you saved the company, how many errors you found and corrected, or how much time you saved,” says Roccia.
If you’ve fallen into the trap of describing versus selling, what can be done? Be ruthless, says Roccia: “Cut, cut, cut.”
He suggests taking the following steps:
✓ Get rid of the fluff, boil it down to essentials.
✓ Make sure every bullet point would fit in the following sentence:
‘I am a better candidate for this role than anyone else because I .’
“Doing that will force you to write only impressive and/or unique things, and not rote and uninteresting filler,” says Roccia. All the better for impressing that hiring manager.
A Way Too Wordy Resume
You’ve heard the adage “less is more,” right? Put it to work on your resume.
Sharing as much information as humanly possible doesn’t work to your advantage.
Callison suggests editing out unnecessary information.
“There is no rule that every job you have ever held must be included, just like there is no reason to include every single job duty that you’ve ever had. Take the time to pick and choose the most relevant information,” she says. “That fast-food job you held for six months in college? Leave it off … Unless the experience relates directly to the job you are seeking, it probably doesn’t have any reason to be on your resume.”
“People try to make these things into autobiographies,” Roccia observes. Rather than aiming for an oeuvre chronicling every moment of your professional life, he advises using “short, high-impact statements make far more of an impression than something that reads like a white paper.”
Stay professional and avoid frivolity: “Don’t give a hiring manager a list of trivia about you and expect them to piece together how you might fit on their team, because they won’t,” says Roccia. “Tell them what you will do for them as clearly as possible in your professional summary so there’s no mystery.”
Better Resumes Lead to Better Opportunities
No amount of good-employee potential can reverse the effects of a bad resume. It’s well worth taking the time to ensure that your resume falls on the “good” end of the spectrum — that means looking at your resume with a critical eye, identifying problem areas, and taking proactive steps to fix them.
A well-written, articulate, and concise resume demonstrates to a potential employer that you’re smart, responsible, and up to the task. You’ve only got one chance to make a first impression — make sure it’s a good one!