What Your Resume Really Says About You

What Your Resume Really Says About You

Ashley Michailaros

In a previous job, my role was to recruit and select Administrative staff for a University project.  After advertising the position and receiving hundreds of applications, I was looking for an easy way to whittle them down to tens, rather than hundreds.  This turned out to be the easiest job, as when I had a look at the applications including resumes and cover letters, nearly half of all applicants wrote such a badly worded, formatted or misguided letter or first page, that they were never going to be the employee to look after our administrative services.  You might be surprised at how little time some people take to produce their resumes, and it shows.

So, what does your resume (and cover letter) say about you? In the example above, it clearly said that the applicants either: didn’t know, didn’t care, or didn’t have the skills to even produce a decent document.  Would you turn up to an interview with shabby clothes, bed-hair and having not brushed your teeth?  No.  Then take the same approach with your resume and make sure it conveys who you are in a positive light and demonstrates your relevant skills for the position you are applying for.

Here are a couple of examples that demonstrate what your resume says about you:

  • Spelling mistakes, especially the same word spelt incorrectly more than once – SAYS – Lack of attention to detail, bad speller, rushed and ill-prepared;
  • Messy, unformatted letter or resume – SAYS – Can’t be bothered to even make it look decent, lack of computer skills, no attention to detail;
  • Badly written letter and sentences which simply don’t make sense – SAYS – inadequate written communication skills, lack of attention to detail;
  • Resume which waffles or seems to have no purpose or relevance – SAYS – clearly this person has applied for many positions with the one resume, not tailored to the position, can’t be bothered changing details for us, doesn’t care enough.

These may seem harsh responses on the part of the recruiter when they have never met you before, but that is the point of your resume; to talk to someone who has never met you before and get across why you should be given the opportunity for an interview.  By submitting something that is sub-par, that is the message you are giving your potential employer and it won’t get you an interview, in fact, it might not even get read.

Here at Resume Writing Services, one of the first things we ask when producing a resume for you is: Why are you doing this?  What do you want to get out of the process?  We ask this so that we can tailor your whole resume and cover letter around your purpose.  By doing this, you get a more consistent story building approach to your resume which at every opportunity relates your history to the job you’re applying for.  The lesson here is to think before you write, and then you have a theme to work within.

Another aspect of your resume that tells your story (good and bad) is your job history.  If you have a history which is relevant and demonstrates a good amount of years in each organisation or that shows promotion within positions, then this is a wonderfully marketable resume which will come across well.  However, if you have less than a couple of years in the last few positions and no growth demonstrated, then you will need to think a bit more creatively about how you display the information.  That’s not to say that you fabricate anything, this is more trouble than it’s worth in the long run.  It just means focussing on the skills or achievements of your positions and picking out everything you can which is relevant to the role you’re applying for.  Finding a way to make the diversity of your previous history a positive thing can take some time, but is worth it in the end.  A large amount of roles these days ask for employees who are adaptable and flexible for example and you can show that in your history.

Within your work history section, and indeed other sections of you resume, you will often need to join the dots for recruiters.  By this I mean not only ensuring that your resume relates well to the position, but also that you have clearly stated how it does relate, so they don’t have to have that realisation for themselves.  This can also be a good tool when you are writing selection criteria.

So, the keys to a good resume that conveys positive things about you include:

  • Consistency
  • Relevance
  • Well-structure and written
  • No mistakes
  • Well formatted or designed
  • Confident language

If you are able to tick all of these attributes, you are showing that you have great attention to detail, you care about whether you get an interview, you can contribute to the organisation and that you understand what the position involves.  Apart from the basic formatting and spelling, relevance is the next most important thing.  If you can be relevant, to the point and succinct, you are more than half way to that interview process.

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