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You've heard it before: Your resume is your one-minute opportunity to create a good impression and convince people in a position to advance your career that they need to learn more. But many job seekers fail to take advantage of the opportunity. Below are four of the most common mistakes people make in their resumes:
1. You haven't kept up with the times. If your resume doesn’t include, at a minimum, an email address and a link to a LinkedIn profile, you are sending the message that you're not even marginally tech-savvy. Increasingly, employers won't even bother to communicate with job candidates at a physical address and, instead, spend most of their time looking at candidates' presence on, and use of, social media. It’s also a good practice to add hyperlinks to your previous employers’ websites, initiatives you might have been involved in, and other sources of information about you so that the HR people screening resumes can learn what they need to know as quickly as possible.
2. You don't spell out what you've accomplished. Many people make the mistake of spelling out their day-to-day job responsibilities in their resume instead of using it to highlight what they've actually accomplished. Here's an example: You could say "Managed five program assistants," which would be an accurate description of your daily responsibilities. But you'd be better off saying "Built and managed a team of five program assistants, achieving 100 percent program growth over two years."
3. You ignore key metrics. Measurements are critical for understanding the scale at which you’ve been working and what you and your colleagues have achieved. In the example above, the number of direct reports is helpful, but it would be an even stronger example with the addition of a stat that demonstrates scale — e.g., “more than doubling the number of students served from 350 to over 800 in two years.”
4. You didn't spend any time researching the organization. I can tell when a resume was blind-submitted. And if it was, well, it usually doesn't get any more of my time. It's also painfully clear when job candidates fail to do the simple things like tweaking their application materials, especially the cover note or letter, to reflect the specific job they're interested in. Don't be that person. Take some time to research the organization and the job you're applying for and then look for ways in your resume and application materials to show you've done your homework.
Avoiding the pitfalls outlined above will help ensure that your resume tells the story you want it to — and improve your chances of getting an opportunity to share your story and experience in a face-to-face interview. Happy job hunting!
Molly Brennan is founding partner of Koya Leadership Partners, a national executive search firm dedicated to the nonprofit sector. In her last article, she wrote about making the jump from the for-profit to not-for-profit sector.