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Sometimes despite your best attempts to capture every detail of the job, roles, responsibilities and achievements, your resume never gets shortlisted. I have been there too. There were times; I have failed to understand why my resume never gets picked by the HR — does it miss the keywords, or does it lack the relevant skillsets?
Maybe it’s not what you ‘haven’t’ captured so far, but perhaps what you ‘have’ mentioned on your resume that’s the problem.
I recently conducted a few interviews for a few roles in our team. This allowed me to understand the entire process from an interviewer's perspective.
To be honest, due to extremely packed calendars and little notice about the interview, I and my co-interviewer didn’t have enough time to read through every detail on the resumes provided to us. And that made me wonder if all hiring managers would face the same challenge? If not all, most of them would not have the capacity or intent to analyze all resumes that are sent to them.
Anyway, I analyzed the resumes post the interviews to do a complete assessment on the candidate and found a few common avoidable mistakes that I thought to share with you.
Here are the top five things that should be removed from a resume.
1. Generic roles and responsibilities
If you have mentioned endless bullets describing every little aspect of the job, that sounds exactly similar to every job description in the market for that role; it’s time to rewrite that.
An interviewer is smart to understand the generic bullets and then filter through the 100 line items to find the three specific ones which reflect your contributions accurately.
These are the most significant ones. Filter out the other not-so-significant ones to make it comprehensible for the interviewer.
The trick is not to impress the interviewer with those 5–6 pages of resume but to summarise your roles in a way that attracts his attention immediately. It would set you apart from the swarm of a hundred other generic resumes that the hiring manager would have received.
You don’t want to bore the interviewer to death.
Just like any good movie that gives you just a few bits in the trailer and leaves the audience wanting for more, you need to develop an interest in your interviewer.
Again don’t be too concise that your resume doesn’t have enough details for the interviewer to understand or shortlist your resume.
Give enough details around the top success stories of what you achieved rather than the boring roles and responsibilities of your day on the floor.
2. Positions from more than 10–15 years ago
You don’t want the resume to be your Linked in profile. If your interviewer wants to know your age and want to know when you started after college, where you started your career from, they’d go to your profile and get that information.
However, for your interview, the latest job has the utmost weight. Use that to your advantage.
You probably don’t need to mention that summer internship, your first job at a 7/11 or something irrelevant to the skillset for which you are interviewing. Remove all of these sections to make it relevant for your interviewer.
However, use your judgment for this — i.e. If you had only one role in the last ten years, then it might make sense to mention the roles you held previously to show the variety of experience you have had outside your current employer.
3. Information overload
Again in conjunction to points, 1 and 2 remove any information that you can do away with — that Street address, Company details, Industry stats, Generic summary, Too many adjectives etc.
Instead, add specific statistics on your projects or initiatives showcasing the results or outputs, add a graph on the skill sets you have achieved.
Use the ‘T-shaped’ concept to showcase the depth of skillset in your area of expertise and the breadth of skillset in other areas of interest.
Consider this, you are an expert in Python and have served in the Hospital industry for last 5 years. Use this to your advantage.
There are many Python developers but not many advanced python developers in the hospital industry.
4. Too Pompous or Too modest
Yes, an interviewer can smell these attributes of your personality from your resume. So be careful about the language you use. While you want to make a compelling case for yourself, you don’t want to be typecasted into any of these stereotypes.
Use ‘I’ when you are talking about your role, your achievements and success stories. However, don’t beat your own trumpet.
Underplaying and overdelivering in your interview will set you apart from a lot of other candidates who might do the opposite.
For example, If you have loved statistics in your high school and graduation but haven’t used it in your previous roles as a Data Scientist, don’t say you are an expert in that.
Sooner or later, the lie will be caught.
5. Jargons and Abbreviations
This one is simple, but trust me, it isn’t. It’s not just about the abbreviations and the use of technical language in the resume but also how simply can you explain to someone outside your industry about your role, your achievements, projects, summary, etc.
To get this right, send it a someone outside your profession and then ask them to explain what you do by reading your resume — if they are reasonably successful in explaining what you do at work, pat yourself on the back.
However, if they have a few questions, you have your cues to simplify it further.
In a nutshell, try to simplify your resume as much as you can. Don’t use endless generic bullet points to describe your roles and responsibilities. Instead, highlight achievements.
Remove any roles you have held not directly associated with the job that you are applying or where you worked more than a decade ago.
Get rid of any unnecessary trivia, abbreviations or jargons to make the resume sharper and stronger.
Lastly, remove anything that makes the resume sound boastful or lowly.
Strive to look for a balance where your assertiveness shows.