Home Career Does your resume pass the test? 4 Issues to consider

Does your resume pass the test? 4 Issues to consider


According to most resume writers, career coaches, and even some recruiters, a job seeker’s resume can be poor at best. This statement is based on a survey on LinkedIn where the aforementioned weighed in with their voice and some thoughts.

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Margaret Martin is a career coach for women 50 and older. She writes:

Most of the clients I have come to me to update their resumes and there are also those who are assigned to me in their career change programs. I’ve read/edited thousands of resumes over 15 years, and very few of them were well written the first time I read them. To be honest, most are poorly done“!

In case you’re wondering, the survey asks: How many well-written resumes have you read? The answer choices were: Most of the summaries I have read have shone, some of the summaries I have read have shone, and a few of the summaries I have read have shone.

The sad fact is that 56% voted that the few summaries they read were brilliant.

Margaret Martin is not the only commentator to bemoan the resumes of job seekers. Below are others who weigh in on common resume problems:

It’s hard to read

That doesn’t mean there’s no hope for job seekers. However, how they should construct their own resumes requires common sense. Take readability, for example. Wayne Schofield is a technical recruiter who writes:

People think tables, color, flash, and smell stand out…they do, but not in a good way.

For someone like me who reads and reviews hundreds of resumes every day, it’s impressive how easy it is to read, how easy it is to go through to find years, level, education and more.”

Obtaining a document that is easy to read there is is important. Consider what recruiters like Dan Roth says the average recruiter looks at the resume for seven (7) seconds before deciding to read on. He, on the other hand, may need more time to read the resume depending on the stage of the interview. He adds:

Sometimes I look at a LinkedIn profile first. Then, based on what I see, if I’m having trouble determining which of my roles a candidate is a good fit for, I can spend 5 or so minutes looking through resumes for details that help me identify the role and level, to which candidate is suitable.”

Another consideration that eludes many people writing a resume that is easy to read on a smartphone. Virginia Francoresume writer and career coach, writes:

“ISaw a little bit of everything – something great, something terrible and a lot in between. However, most of them are not written with mobile devices or small screen readers in mind. They are packed with dense text.”

Don’t flaunt the greatness of job seekers

Some applicants know what they have accomplished and know how to express it on their resumes. But many others do not understand this. They write boring business documents and think it will impress employers. Laura Smith-Proulxexecutive summary writer disagrees:

We are taught to be good at what we do Bob Mackintosh, but not to promote or explain our own value proposition. This is what I see on most resumes…that only scratch the surface: the candidate’s ROI for the employer.»

I see it all too often; a resume that reads like a grocery list of routine duties, where there are opportunities to show the greatness of my clients. Whoever is responsible for implementing a SAP system needs to go beyond the obvious and talk about:

  • their role in the process
  • why it was installed
  • how quickly it was installed and the result of the installation.

Below is an example of how you can add a few facts to turn the above obligation into an achievement statement.

Increase the efficiency of campaigns by 67% by organizing the installation – 3 weeks before the deadline – of SAP to replace the outdated CRM system.

Marisol Maloneya talent acquisition specialist in the military sector, faces a unique challenge with its clients who need to demonstrate their greatness to civilian employers:

Because most of my candidates tend to be veterans or transitioning military, many of the resumes I receive from this population are missing metrics. I completely understand why this population can’t sell themselves because I am ex-military myself.”

She cites some of the veteran’s merits as an example:

Provided the group commander, troop commander, and five adjutant generals and their staff with timely and accurate information on deployment and redeployment data, logistics, personnel, and equipment status.”

What can be simply written:

Under the leadership of 300 people of different levelsproviding senior management with timely and accurate operational information relating to data, logistics, personnel and equipment status.”

Not written for an audience

Many job seekers write their resumes for themselves, not for the employer. This is conspicuous and often causes hiring authorities to disqualify resumes. They may spot a resume that lacks relevance simply based on the candidate’s titles. And upon further review, resume readers notice that the duties do not match the requirements.

Shelly PiedmontThe former recruiter turned career coach has read thousands of resumes and believes that resumes that don’t connect with the audience are a common problem:

What most people fail to understand when writing a resume is writing content for an audience. I’ve read so many resumes with extraneous information that has nothing to do with how qualified you are for the job. Stick to it and you’ll be well on your way to a brilliant resume.”

Lisa Rangel also read a ton of resumes before becoming a resume writer and emphasizes that resumes are marketing documents that should serve the following purpose:

Resumes are marketing documents, and I see many job seekers not understanding how to market themselves.

Often these marketing documents focus too much on (1) what the candidate can do, (2) not how well they did it, and (3) don’t consider how relevant it is to the employer. If applicants can include #2 and #3 in their document, this is what sets them apart from competing candidates.

Here, we have the top three concerns that resume writers, career coaches and recruiters, past and present, shared in the survey comments. Applicants should make their resumes easy to read, show their greatness, and be relevant. But there is another problem that comes to mind.

What about length of service?

From the hundreds of resumes I’ve read, length of service is another issue I see in my clients’ documents. The average age of my clients hovers around 55, so they have up to 30 years of experience or more. Naturally, they want to increase their experience; they worked hard and achieved great success.

however, what they have achieved in 10 or 15 years is irrelevant. The technologies and processes used today are different from those used back then. What employers really want to know is what you’ve accomplished in the last five to seven years. OK, 10 years.

The second concern ageism. I tell my clients that the job of the resume is to get them to the interview. Why hurt your chances by giving away your age, I tell them. Unfortunately, some unsophisticated employers do not appreciate the benefits that older workers will bring them.

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