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Mistakes still being made on Resumes

Updated: 6 days ago

Are you currently sending out your resume to multiple job positions but finding that you're not making much progress? Perhaps you've already sought advice from others, but the feedback you're receiving isn't meeting your expectations.

We understand that the job market is exceptionally challenging, especially in comparison to other points in your career so far. Recognising this reality and hearing the widespread frustration from our communities about the lack of constructive resume feedback, we've taken the initiative to directly approach the sources of expertise. Our goal is to delve into the common mistakes that frequently appear in today's resumes, equipping you with the knowledge needed to avoid them.

This article owes its existence to the insights provided by our guests: Melina Stöver from Journee and Gabriella Barnard from Medbelle. With their extensive recruitment experience spanning both external and internal positions across diverse disciplines, and having reviewed thousands of applications along the way, they bring a wealth of knowledge to the discussions.

We're delving not only into errors but also gaining an understanding of how talent acquisition teams typically evaluate your resume. By doing so, we aim to provide you with knowledge of the review process that often goes unnoticed by others.


Speed of Resume Evaluation:

You might be aware of the common belief that it takes just seven seconds for someone to form an initial impression of your resume, influencing whether they decide to invest more time in reviewing it.

Seven seconds - a rather brief moment.

While Melina and Gabriella noted that they do dedicate a bit more time to this task, it's not substantially longer. As a job seeker, it's crucial to comprehend what talent acquisition teams prioritise within the initial 30 seconds. Consequently, you should aim to create a resume that piques interest and motivates them to explore your qualifications further.


How TA Teams draw this conclusion

The amount of time spent reviewing your resume may vary depending on the individual conducting the review, but it may not necessarily change the final outcome. More seasoned professionals like Melina and Gabriella, who have encountered thousands of applications in their extensive careers, possess the expertise to assess the suitability of a candidate relatively swiftly. Conversely, a less experienced team member might take longer, but the end result could still be the same.

Melina emphasised that her ability to form an opinion largely depends on the information provided by the job seeker. Her role involves evaluating whether a collaborative partnership would be beneficial for both parties based on the details shared. Inadequate or excessive information can hinder her ability to make a confident assessment, potentially causing qualified individuals to be overlooked. She actively seeks to identify transferable skills, even when core skills are not a perfect match, but a clear and concise resume structure is essential for this purpose.

Gabriella underscored the importance of resume formatting, or the lack thereof, in her rapid decision-making process. Given the high volume of applications for many job openings, the talent acquisition team has limited time. Consequently, they tend to focus on reading the application summaries (a practice commonly followed by many TA specialists), skill sections, and the candidate's current position when forming their initial impressions.


Looooooooong sentences

To maximise impact within a limited timeframe, it's crucial to ensure your entire resume is structured with clarity and conciseness, from the overall layout to the length of your sentences.

As Melina suggested, crafting short, crisp sentences is key. This approach maintains the document's brevity, allowing talent teams to quickly locate relevant information and make informed decisions regarding your candidacy.

While brevity is important, it should never sacrifice clarity. A valuable tip highlighted by Melina is to first jot down everything you'd typically include and then consider the scenario where the reader has minimal time and no prior knowledge of you. What information would you retain to stand out, and what would you omit to streamline the content?


Responsibility over Achievements

Data carries more weight than words. Regardless of your position within a company, prioritise showcasing your accomplishments and contributions rather than simply rehashing your job duties.

Gabriella elaborated on the fact that a significant portion of job seekers, even in today's job market, tend to focus on their day-to-day responsibilities rather than highlighting their proficiency with tools and the value they brought to their previous employers during their tenure. This is the kind of information that hiring teams are eager to find on resumes, yet it often goes unnoticed for various reasons.

It's essential to consider the level of the position you're applying for. If you're a junior applicant, it makes sense to discuss your daily tasks to help hiring teams assess whether your responsibilities align with their role. However, as you advance in your career and apply for more senior positions, hiring teams increasingly want to learn about the significant contributions you've made to previous organisations.

This doesn't mean neglecting your job responsibilities entirely; rather, strike a balance by giving equal attention to both aspects. Craft your resume in a way that offers valuable insights, going beyond generic bullet points that recruiters can already discern from your job title alone.


Summary Section to the Rescue

Tailoring your resume for each job application can sometimes feel like a cumbersome task. However, as we've explained in previous articles, it's worth noting that internal talent teams also see the significance of this practice.

The landscape of summary sections in resumes has evolved over the years, and it might be time for yours to receive an update. As mentioned earlier, summary sections are often closely scrutinised, so they should consist of a few concise sentences that convey more about your aspirations regarding the company, industry, or specific job opening. This is your opportunity to distinguish yourself and establish a connection as to why you're an ideal match.

This entails eliminating generic phrases like 'I am a great team player' and replacing them with highly customised statements such as 'I am deeply passionate about the green-tech industry, as evidenced by my involvement in multiple NGO projects during my spare time. Now, I am eager to transition into this field full-time...'

Both of our featured guests explained the significance of the summary section and the importance of aligning your resume with the core job description. Gabriella shared an insightful scenario where an applicant skilfully deciphered the underlying challenges in the job description, adapting their summary to offer solutions. This strategic approach not only secured them an interview but also led to a successful job offer due to their stellar performance during the interview process.


Align to the Company’s Language

This advice is particularly relevant if you are a non-native speaker in your current country of residence. When crafting your resume, pay careful attention to language considerations.

In many job descriptions, hiring teams specify the operational language required for the position, often using a language proficiency rating system. Even if the language proficiency requirement states "German fluent," for instance, but the job description is in English (or vice versa), Melina suggests that you should submit your application in the same language as the job description.

The rationale behind this approach is that the person posting the job likely understands the language in which they wrote the job description and will often be responsible for reviewing resumes. By aligning your application with the language of the job posting, you not only expedite the review process but also create a favourable impression that demonstrates your consideration and inclusivity when applying for the position.


Use AI to help you:

By now, you've likely used ChatGPT or Bard, overcoming the terrible prompt stage and making effective use of them. It's worth noting that your resume can also benefit from this proficiency.

Talent teams value clear and concise structure in resumes. You can leverage AI to achieve this by employing a few straightforward prompts, such as:

  • Re-write and shorten (insert sample text)

  • Turn this text into bullet points (insert sample text)

These phrases can assist in transforming lengthy, unclear sentences into content that talent teams will appreciate. However, it's essential to remember that AI shouldn't do all the work for you; some manual tweaks will be necessary.

Taking it a step further, you can even input the job description you're considering applying for and request the system to generate a summary that you can integrate into your resume, with some adjustments, of course.

AI tools are readily available and actively encouraged by talent teams, so why not give them a try to enhance the clarity and impact of your resume?


Will this article provide an ultimate solution to all of your resume challenges? In simple terms, no. However, with every revision of your resume, every innovative approach you uncover, and every opportunity you seize to stand out, you will gradually move closer to discovering the perfect role for you.

Gabriella disclosed that it required more than 90 applications throughout her 4-month job search to finally secure a new position, and this is coming from an individual not only skilled in crafting her own resume but with an impressive background as well.

Patience is crucial; believe in the process and persistently incorporate the feedback you gather from each position you apply to.

As always, a big thank you to our guests Melina and Gabriella and we hope you found reading their insights as enjoyable as we did when we had the pleasure of speaking with them.

If you feel someone in your network would benefit from reading this, please share it along so we can all collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.


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