If you want to know whether your resume is effective or not, you must put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager who is unfamiliar with your company and your role. Would your resume make sense to such a hiring manager? Are you making a good case for why you should be hired or are you immersed in unneeded details?
In order to write your resume in a way that conveys both these messages, there are many areas that need to be thought of with a perspective of an outsider. For example, if it was a big deal for your company that you took responsibility for an XYZ project and completed it successfully, just mentioning the name of this project may not resonate with future employers who aren’t familiar with what it means for your company or the industry. Instead, you probably would be better explaining the value of the project (in money as well as for your company’s market standing).
Similarly, you should review your entire resume to make sure that you’re not listing job details that don’t mean much to future employers. Remember what employers are looking for is someone who can do the advertised job. Unless your previous experience clearly matches what they are looking for, don’t bother with mentioning the details of a job. Instead, write a brief that describes the job and its significance.
Scan your resume for the following common mistakes.
Acronyms and abbreviations
Professional writers know that using acronyms and abbreviations incorrectly and unnecessarily can create an alphabet soup that turns off readers. Job applicants have a common goal with reporters: Trying to keep the reader’s (the hiring manager’s) attention for as long as possible. Does the acronym CAMP stand out for something in your current company? Spell it out or better explain the significance of what it stands for. It could be, for example, a complete automated system for monitoring production that helped increase company revenues by a certain amount of dirhams.
Similarly, watch out for industry jargon that may be specific to a previous employer, region or country. Don’t assume that if you’re familiar with a particular term, others should be, too. Always make sure that your resume is understandable and easy to scan by potential employers.
Lengthy job descriptions
If someone working in a customer-facing position explains the job in detailed terms, like: “Answering customer inquiries, logging complaints, following up, etc” this person may be missing the point of having a resume. To make sure your message is effective, it should be focused on the core of previous jobs. Keep it short and powerful. Continuing with the previous example, write something like, “Handling customer relations efficiently,” or “developing solutions and procedures for better customer service.” This approach can help you sum up the many steps that you take in daily work and include a purpose for them, showing that you’re seeing the point of procedures even if you’re setting them up yourself.
Is a three-month job that you took in 1997 relevant to the job you’re applying for now? The answer is probably “no”. If that is the case, drop it. Based on where you are in your career, it is important to review your resume for relevance and to keep it concise and targeted. Don’t get carried away, however, with deleting previous jobs to the extent that you create gaps in your experience. Always keep key jobs that make up the full picture of your career progression. The first jobs to go should be those that aren’t within your career and done for a brief period long time ago. Be aware, however, that if you’re filling a formal application especially with a government entity, you probably will need to be thorough and list every single job for background-check purposes.
Hobbies and personal information
It is often surprising to see job candidates include personal information such as age, religion and marital status on their resume. Not only are employers required not to discriminate against candidates because of these specifics, mentioning them may give an impression that you’re not professional to know what to list on your resume. Even worse, elaborating on your hobbies and personal interests. Employers will get to know you during interviews or will ask specific questions to get the information they need. Until then, don’t volunteer personal details that can easily be taken the wrong way.
Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently a Seattle-based editor.