When a recruiter opens your resume, they aren’t looking for why they SHOULD interview you.
Instead they are looking for reasons why they SHOULDN’T.
Which means that any glaring red flags are sure to put you in the NO pile and ruin any hopes you have for that job.
There will always be those jobs that we won’t get an interview for, maybe we are missing a key piece of experience or education or maybe there is a gap the hiring manager is trying to fill. We don’t want to stress too much about that because it is completely out of our control.
But there are many red flags that are entirely within our control, ones that we need to address in order to increase the odds of ending up in the YES pile and keeping our dreams alive for landing that job.
1. Resume is Messy
By messy I mean that there are mistakes present that shouldn’t be present. Typos, spelling mistakes and grammar issues are problems that could instantly destroy your chances of moving forward.
There are times when those errors are forgiven but for many roles that require writing skills or attention to detail then chances are this easily avoided mistake could be the end of the road for you.
Beyond the written aspect of your resume, pay attention to your formatting. Make sure it is consistent throughout and that there aren’t any glaring formatting errors. That way you can get that call inviting you in for an interview.
2. Resume is Confusing
As soon as the recruiter has to think about what you are trying to tell them you are in the NO pile.
If your resume is a Functional resume that is skills focused then chances are it is never even read by the recruiter. Why? It’s just too confusing and the recruiter has to figure out where you worked and where you used those skills. Too much work for a 6 second read.
Employment Gaps fall in this area too. I don’t stress too much about gaps that were more than 10 years ago, but if they fall in the last decade include them in your resume. Call it an Employment Sabbatical and describe quickly why you had the gap (in a way you are comfortable with and that is short and sweet).
This also goes for any interesting career journeys, maybe there was overlap in roles or you were working two jobs at once. If that is the case, edit yourself first. Keep only what matters to THIS job in the resume. If those extras don’t matter then keep them out. If they do, then using 2-3 words include a brief note in your content about the overlap.
If don’t want to raise a red flag, address these issues ASAP!
3. Resume isn’t the Right Length
If you have more than 5 years of experience then a 1 page resume might not be for you. If you have less than 5 years of experience, then don’t have a 3 page resume.
Create a resume that tells your career story, don’t skimp on it or pad it.
If you have 2 or 3 pages in your resume, make sure those extra pages are at least half full. A 1 ¼ page resume is annoying and not aesthetically pleasing!
Any of these mishaps can land you in that pile you dread.
4. Resume Doesn’t Sell You
There is a lot of push on accomplishment based bullets points and, honestly, rightly so. But what can get lost there are key tasks that are a part of your job and the job you are applying for. Your content for each position should demonstrate what you do, how you make a difference and your accomplishments.
To determine how much focus you need to have on the tasks, take a look at your career and the role you are applying for. Is it task based or results based? If it is task based and you haven’t focused on that, then the NO pile is where you’ll end up.
5. Resume has a Bad Case of TMI
Is your resume full of information? A Skills Highlight section which is like an essay? Or a block of bullet points that looks like a copy and paste of the job description.
A recruiter is skimming resumes and when they skim, any big block of text will overwhelm them and raise a red flag. Which means you end up in the NO pile.
6. Resume Doesn’t Tell Your Story
Your resume is a marketing document, like an advertisement. It needs to tell the story of your career and how you are the ONE for the job. We tend to jump straight into our tasks or accomplishments instead of giving the recruiter a sense of what you’ve done. A simple sentence outlining the overall purpose of each role allows them to finish the skim satisfied. But if a recruiter skims your resume and doesn’t know exactly who you are and what you do then they won’t bring you in for an interview.
Red flags pop up throughout the entire job search, if you need help identifying and removing them, then the Career You Love Academy is the place for you.
One red flag is starting your job search with your resume, one of the nine most common mistakes that job seekers make. To fix that and the other 8, watch the free masterclass, "The Secrets to Finding a Job You Love".
Leveraging LinkedIn for your career is one of the smartest things you can do and one that doesn’t even take up much of your time. Optimizing it to enable great job opportunities to come to you is a sure fire way for you to take control of your career. If you are actively job searching, it outsources some of that search, making your job search life just a little bit easier.
When I’m talking about leveraging and optimizing, I’m talking about setting up your LinkedIn profile so that you can be found specifically by recruiters. When a company begins a new search, 87% of recruiters turn to LinkedIn when they are seeking new talent to fill that opportunity. I was one of those 87%, I almost exclusively used LinkedIn throughout my 15 years of recruitment experience so I know a thing or two about what goes through a recruiters mind when they are hunting for that perfect candidate, knowledge that you can use to make sure your profile is all set.
1. Complete Your Profile
LinkedIn does have an algorithm and that algorithm is kinder to profiles that are 100% filled out, or received the All Star Badge. This will bias the search engine in your favour.
This is the number one thing you can do to get someone to click on your profile and send you a message, in fact LinkedIn’s stats show that you can get 9x more connection requests, 21x more profile views and 36x more messages
The photo doesn’t have to be a head-shot, but it does have to be professional.
3. Name, Headline & Location
When a recruiter does a search, the results show up with page after page of names, headlines and locations.
Most of us recruiters are inherently lazy, something I say all the time. But honestly we are lazy because it isn’t uncommon for the search results to be in the hundreds if not thousands, which means we have to be lazy as a way to be highly efficient with our time. So we only click on the profiles that are in line with what we are looking for:
Recruiters use search strings to find talent, search strings full of key words. That means when you are thinking about your profile don’t just fill it out from the perspective of what you do, also think of it from the perspective of what you want to do! Take a look at 3-5 jobs that are reflective of the industries, companies and jobs you would be interested in. Highlight the keywords that are common and fill out your profile with them.
A great place to start is your summary. I always include a list of skills and competencies in a client’s summary, a recruiter may never see that list (they would have to click “see more” and remember – lazy and no time) but the search engine sees them!
Next, make sure your work experience is up to date and actually filled in with information. It is recommended that you don’t copy and paste your resume but instead make your LinkedIn profile reflective of your resume. Use the keywords where relevant.
Lastly, use the Skills section. The great thing about this section is when you click to add more you’ll get some suggestions from LinkedIn. Use these suggestions! These are identified based on search strings used by people to find individuals like yourself, and chances are those people are recruiters! Use all 50 to get the biggest bang for your buck with this section.
5. Your Network
You can have the perfect profile but if you don’t have enough connections all that work would be for naught. As I have discussed in the past, your goal is to be a 3rd degree connection with most everyone within your industry and/or region. That 500 number is still the magic one, so working towards it is key!
6. Be Active
LinkedIn’s algorithm takes into account more than just a good profile, it now takes into account user activity and is kinder to those who log in often and engages on their platform. When you wake up in the morning, do you do a quick review of all your favourite social media platforms? Well I would add LinkedIn to that list and maybe like (or comment or share) a post each time you log in. 5 minutes of your time MAX.
7. Turn On Open to Career Opportunities
Let recruiters know you are open to hearing about new jobs.
Curious to know if it is working? There are a few things you can do. In your dashboard, look at your search appearances and your profile views numbers, they should rise after this work.
Don’t want to wait? Test it out yourself. Take a look at a job you are interested in, if you were trying to find a candidate to fill this role what sort of search strings would you use? Type them in, narrow down by location and see if you show up on one of the first few pages?
Feeling lost? I can help with that, schedule a strategy call to talk more about it.
Everyone wants to succeed. Their definition of success may be different, but that desire is the same.
The journey to success used to be simple. You worked hard, you made the right connections, and you put your hand up. And what made it even easier was that you did it within the hours of 9-5pm at the physical office you worked at.
Our world isn’t like that anymore, it has changed. People work all hours of the day, flexible work arrangements are on the rise and we work with teams and individuals virtually more than ever.
So we can’t lean on the old way of finding success as the only way anymore, we have to implement some new strategies and think about our path differently.
Being a committed employee who exceeds expectations is still vital to any definition of success, but how you share that message is different. And that is where it gets more challenging.
We need to think of ourselves not as an employee but as a product.
This is so hard for us. It is one of the biggest reasons why people come to me to rewrite their resume and LinkedIn profiles and to provide interview coaching. We are so immersed in our careers that it is so hard to only focus on what matters.
We forget that we aren’t creating a chapter book but instead a marketing plan. I love to use the analogy of a magazine. What is it about you that will grab someone’s attention to stop at your ad within the magazine? You don’t need to tell them everything you just need to tell them what about you fits their needs.
The foundation of every marketing plan is a branding message, and in the case of your career, a personal brand. The personal brand is your messaging that shows the world your personality, your goals and your differentiating factor aka the value you bring to the table.
Your brand sends a message and creates an impression. One that extends beyond your work, your LinkedIn page or your interactions with your colleagues.
You may think that creating a personal brand just isn’t for you, especially if you are not even in marketing! But it is a super simple exercise.
Here are six questions for you to ask yourself that will result in a personal brand that lets everyone know how amazing you are.
1. What does success mean to me?
You need to get clear on your goals. On your own definition for success. Remember to clear the noise of societal pressures and messages. You don’t have to want something just because society or family makes you feel like you should want it.
2. What matters most to me?
This is a hard question to answer because it requires some digging. I want you to think about what you value most – in your work, in others (colleagues, management), in yourself. When you think of your definition of success, what type of impact does that lead you to? Think back on your performance reviews, what feedback mattered most to you (made you really happy or upset).
3. What is my story?
This is a quick story, a 1-2 sentence story. One that is cohesive and quickly shows off who you are, what you have done and where you want to go. Don’t forget to show off you, the authentic you not the cookie cutter you. So make sure you are genuine when crafting your story.
4. Where am I going?
Now it is time to focus on your future. How do your goals lines up with your definition of success? Are you looking at a promotion, a career pivot or a complete career change? Maybe your goals have nothing to do with the actual job but more the type of workplace – one where you can work from home, or set up a new business. Be clear on your destination.
5. What matters to my target audience?
When you know what you want, then you can have a clearer picture of who will be a decision maker on your future. Think about what matters to them. What skills, knowledge and experience do they want?
6. How can I tie it all together?
You know what you offer. And you know what your audience wants. So now you need to craft a message that reflects what they want. Your message should hopefully convince them that you are the person to give them what they need.
These six questions leave you knowing your value in a nutshell! This is the message you will weave throughout your marketing plan, including your LinkedIn profile, your elevator pitch, your resume and cover letter or a talent profile.
You will also weave it throughout your networking with your current network and with new contacts. When speaking with key decision makers, make sure you include some of these talking points casually into the conversation.
This foundation will allow you to build a successful career, one that will stand the test of time.
Do you want to talk through your personal brand? Set up a complimentary strategy call with me to go over it.
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
The Secrets to finding a job you love
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