NEWS + ADVICE
Fix These 3 Errors to Improve Your Cleared Resume
All resumes are basically an ad for you. Take a look at advertisements in your field or for consumers – note how they are trying to capture attention with short, active words and clear presentation.
Your cleared resume needs to capture attention like a great ad and show you as the best match for the job you want. Thus it needs to be tailored for the field and company and job. Use your past achievements as they relate to your future work goals – and skip all the other stuff you have done.
Error 1: Resume Length
Right now there is a lot of push for the one-page resume and if you have less than 10 years of work experience, one page makes good sense. It shows you can focus on the most critical elements for the work you want.
But if you have extensive experience, a one page resume can result in hiring managers thinking you are under-qualified. You can go to the standard two pages and still demonstrate your ability to focus on the most critical elements you offer. Several recent candidates I have talked with found that their one-page resume, even professionally done, meant managers did not even see the dates and made assumptions about their work experience as brief!
Remember on any resume, that you want an easy to read document and links to your social media.
You can always use your LinkedIn or other profile to more fully explain your past work and volunteer achievements and interests. Or better yet, with an improved resume you can share that information in an interview.
Keep your resume to a great, focused ad for you at your best!
Error 2: Skills Lists on Steroids
The same old buzzword filled list of skills has become a common problem on resumes. Too many start with a summary, then a long list of skills, then education, and finally get to the meat – jobs and achievements. Skill lists started in technology jobs where the hardware and software you knew was vital to your next job. Then many other people adopted the concept.
A useful skill list needs to be the few things which are vital to the job you seek next and are not easily visible in your achievements. Lists which are 12-25 items are ignored because hiring managers see no value in them. They want to know what you have actually done. ‘Leadership’, ‘interpersonal skills’, ‘customer relationship building’ and all the other buzz words are important only when you clearly demonstrate them in your achievements. Not on a list.
For government contracts, many recruiters do like to see a list that summarizes those items critical to a specific position. That list might say Project Manager (5 years) or Intel Analyst (9 years) or Contracts Administrator (6 years) or a specific technology because the specific job requires X years of experience and you want to draw attention to meeting the requirements.
Error 3: Fancy Formatting
When you are handing a human a resume in an interview or networking meeting, you can use some formatting to enhance clarity.
But most resumes are scanned into applicant tracking systems which do not like fancy formatting and will garble your resume as a result. Resumes that you provide for a job fair, that you email to a recruiter, or that you use in a networking situation will be scanned at some point.
Therefore, stick to limited amounts of all caps, bold or italic text in your resumes. Omit boxes, shading, lines, or logos. Use Word documents for most purposes. Many systems do not read PDF or other formats well and that creates an extra step for the recruiter.
Be sure that your security clearance is at the top or near it. All you really need is the level and type, not the dates or reinvestigation info. Keep it simple “TS/SCI with CI poly” or “Top Secret” is enough.
Make sure you have a common font, like Arial or Tahoma, and in an easily readable size. Don’t forget plenty of white space.
Remember, your resume is an ad for you. Look at it coldly, as if you had not seen it before. What does it really say about you?
Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.This entry was posted on Thursday, February 12, 2015 7:20 am