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Critique Your Resume

Presenting oneself to an employee-seeking audience can be a difficult task.  It is important not to feel intimidated by the thought of competing with top résumé writers or specialists.  A jobseeker can honestly create their own résumé  as long as that person knows what to list, what to eliminate, what to highlight, and in what order to place this information.

Each résumé is critiqued utilizing the following steps:

What is the candidate''s position and does the document satisfy target audience requirements? 
Is the layout appropriate for this person''s skills, qualifications and number of years of experience? 
Is there irrelevant information within the document? 
Is there a nice ratio of keywords or key phrases relating to the candidate’s background? 
Does the document contain typos, sentence structure problems or other common mistakes?
Our critique guidelines expose some of the worst résumé problems that are out there.  These errors can cause a candidate’s résumé to be ignored for an open or upcoming position.  Once the jobseeker is thoroughly aware of their target position, knows the audience and has a nicely designed and well thought-out résumé, he or she is ready to use these tools to their advantage…assuming they are applying for an obtainable position – backed by necessary skills, qualifications, and/or education.  

Let’s take the above critique process one step further by reviewing, in detail, what jobseekers do to sabotage their chances of landing a better job.


Skills Redundancy.  There comes comfort when performing the same types of duties for a number of different employers, but it causes skills redundancy within a résumé.  Take an administrative assistant, for example.  Over the last 10 years, this person has worked for three different medical physicians, performing the same types of duties.  This person should brainstorm and game plan how the document should be laid out of avoid this problem.  Note:  A chronological layout can be the main reason the duplicate skills and qualifications are reflected strongly.  


Keyword and Key Phrase Potency.  Certain skills and educational requirements are standard among various types of positions.  These skills in essence "brand" the candidate''s knowledge of the industry/field being targeted.  Keywords assist in setting oneself apart from others based upon uniqueness.  These keywords should be adjusted continuously, catering to the job candidate''s target market.


Lacking a Mission Statement.  This portion of the résumé is the most crucial, yet it is left out time after time.  A hiring manager receives countless résumés over a one-month period.  Why would anyone send a résumé to them without a clear and concise mission statement.  A person wishing employment should never assume the hiring manager is a mind reader.


Education.  Listing a high school degree is fine only if you’re a recent graduate.  Envision this scenario.  A recently laid-off sales and marketing executive puts the final touches on his résumé.  In additional to listing his bachelor’s degree, he lists his associate’s degree along with his high school diploma.  Will he be hired, or even interviewed, because he graduated from high school over a decade ago?  The answer is obvious.  Once a person receives and satisfies the requirements for a college degree, the high school degree is implied. 


Job Relevancy.  If a jobseeker is applying for a position as an account representative, why would that person list an entire paragraph - or more - about their stint as a caterer five years ago?  That''s a question I ask myself every day.  Tell the employer just what they WANT to know, and no more.  Downplay all irrelevant skills, qualifications, and job history that does not relate directly to the target position.


Telling a Company More Than They Need to Know.  It amazes me the number of people who document everything they''ve been doing for the last three decades.  In general, a résumé follows the same rules as an application. A 10-year history is sufficient, unless the jobseeker has been employed with the same company longer than the 10-year cutoff. 

Learning various résumé tips and tactics can ensure a top-quality copy and layout is used at all times.  The art of creating a document that will set yourself apart from other jobseekers can be a difficult task, if you are unwilling to put in the time necessary to discover the pros and cons to each résumé style.

Deborah Walker, CCMC is a Resume Writer & Career Coach.

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