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Advice / Job Search / Resumes

Your Resume Isn't a Golden Ticket to a New Job, and Here's Why

You’ve written a killer summary, weaved in tons of keywords, and crafted accomplishment statements that make you shine brighter than your granny’s Sunday silver. After you’ve spent hours putting together a new resume, it’s easy to think, “This is it! I’m holding the ticket to my next job.”

Don’t go there. Not for one minute.

Do your new resume—and your career—a big favor by keeping in mind that it can never (ever) do any of these things for you:

1. It Can’t Please Everyone

Using a general resume, or a spray ’n’ pray strategy, actually slows down your job search. Sure, it seems more efficient than tweaking every application you send out, but think of it this way: Companies don’t want to hire a “kinda” fit, they want to hire the haute couture custom fit.

General = generic!

The best way to show that you’re the perfect match for a role is to align your experiences with the requirements listed in the job ad. Period.

Still, that’s a ton of extra typing, right? Especially if you’re hunting for two to three different kinds of roles! Economize the process by preparing a few versions of your resume that are wrapped around each role you’re interested in pursuing. That way, each application you send only requires a few minor edits, rather than an intense re-write.

And to totally streamline things, apply for each job type in batches, instead of performing mixed-bag search sessions for multiple titles. Your brain will thank you.

2. It Can’t Keep Your Dirty Little Secrets Forever

Yes, there are ways to disguise career mishaps like employment gaps or being fired, but sneakiness will only get you so far. HR will verify your employment dates. Your interviewer will ask why you left your last job.

And that functional resume? It’s not fooling anyone!

Your resume and cover letter should anticipate questions, rather than create new ones. Mystique and ambiguity won’t draw people in. Instead, it will crush their confidence in you right when you need it the most.

So, always list the correct dates of your employment, and if you have a gap in your history, explain it with a simple career note such as, “Left workforce to study full-time.” While it’s not necessary to list a termination on your resume, or the situation surrounding it, you should be prepared to explain it during your interview.

3. It Can’t Tell Your Life Story

No, your resume shouldn’t be a detailed timeline of your professional experiences. Instead, it should be a juicy snapshot of your background as it applies to the opportunity at hand.

Say it with me: More is just more!

Itemized lists of nitty-gritty duties waste everybody’s time, and long lists of bullets are a bore. But efficient summaries of your responsibilities, coupled with highlights of how you’ve added value through your skills, will sizzle and delight.

Let’s say you’re a retail manager looking to transition into a marketing role. Your resume lists, “Ran cash register and assisted customers,” a job function that is not only yawn-provoking, but also easily assumed from your title. It’s content garbage, so cut it out! In its place, point the hiring manager toward marketing-related accomplishments you’ve achieved at your current job, or use the space to talk about that MailChimp certification you’re working on.

The point is: Include only relevant and interesting details. Just because your resume’s as long as your leg doesn’t mean it’s scoring you extra job hunt points.

4. It Can’t Win Popularity Contests

Guess what? Everyone being interviewed for the job you want is just as qualified as you are. Your resume got you in the door, but it’s not going do the talking that proves you have the personality the company is looking for.

My advice: Act like a Grade-A creeper!

Learn everything you can about the company. What’s its mission and vision? Has it been in the news recently? How is its social media presence? More importantly, familiarize yourself with the people who will be interviewing you. Are you connected and how? Do you have similar interests?

At this point in the game, your culture fit is much more important than where you’ve worked or earned your degree. Research, prepare, and align yourself with the company’s pulse.

5. It Can’t Be Your Squeaky Wheel

Even the most brilliantly crafted resume can’t promote itself. It’s on you to make absolutely certain that employers know you’re there, ready, and interested in working for them.

Make some noise! Get the grease!

Being visible and engaged is key at every stage of your job search. In fact, without a strong web presence—be it on LinkedIn, Twitter, a personal website, or other platforms—you might as well search for your next job using smoke signals from the bottom of a canyon. Pick a couple of platforms to concentrate on during your search, and activate your network.

Want a little more grease? Remember to follow up with a thank-you note after interviews, and when accepting a job offer, communicate clearly with both your old and new employers about the next steps you’re going to take.

So, let’s review. Your resume is an incredibly lazy but dependable friend. A pal that can do just one thing extremely well: It scores you interviews—but only when it’s targeted, truthful, and to the point. From there, the legwork of networking, acing interviews, and nailing your brand online is up to you!

Photo of paper courtesy of Shutterstock.