Every year I review hundreds of resumes for assistant store managers, store managers, area managers, district managers, and other field leaders in store ops and loss prevention in the United States and Canada. Although I haven't been keeping score, I would say maybe 5% are great - the rest are either average (which usually isn't good enough to stand out from peers) or need a lot of work.
Why? Well, most people don't write resumes for a living - it's not their area of expertise. They excel at managing stores, developing teams, driving sales, cutting shrink, and maximizing profit. I'm lousy at that (which is why I left a career in retail management behind), but I am pretty handy at writing resumes.
Here are the 10 biggest mistakes I regularly see, in no particular order:
It's not imperative to have a full mailing address if you're worried about privacy, but I recommend more than just a phone number and email address. Resumes go into applicant databases, and recruiters search from those systems to find suitable candidates. If you don't have at least your city, state/province, and zip/postal code, some may not be able to enter you in their database or find you in a search.
The goal in any job search is to stand out from all the other applicants that are interested in the same job. So why use a template that makes your resume look almost identical to so many others? I know it's more work, but create a resume from scratch so at least it has a chance to stand out. (Or better yet, hire a professional resume writer like myself for maximum competitive advantage!)
Objectives have long gone the way of "References Available Upon Request" - in other words, they're not used anymore. If you have one on your resume, you may be perceived as out of touch. Besides, recruiters these days aren't interested in what you're looking for - they want to know what you have to offer.
The vast majority of summaries/profiles I see on resumes provide very little value for the reader. Rather than truly summarizing qualifications or work experience, they tend to go on and on about what a talented person you think you are. It may be true - you may be the next Mickey Drexler or Les Wexner - but the reader has no reason to believe it just because you say so. Skip the hyperbole and stick to the facts.
In my experience, it's important to stay away from tables, text boxes, images, logos, columns, etc. because they don't translate well to the applicant tracking systems most companies use. If your resume is heading to a database, it needs to be parsed, which means the information needs to be lifted from your resume and slotted into different sections of the system. If you use elements that aren't commonly used, they may screw up the parsing process. The result? Your information may not appear in the database as intended. Stick to the basics.
Too many resumes don't show the person's true career path. Instead, they often list only the company name, start and end date, and most recent position. Many don't even include locations. The problem with that is recruiters (and anyone who reviews resumes for a living, such as myself) want to know your true career path, not just the last position you held with a particular company. That doesn't tell us how you got there.
Older job-seekers should rightfully be proud of their lengthy work history and all they've accomplished, but that doesn't mean it's relevant for your resume. If you're showing experience - or dates of any kind - from back in the early 90s, 80s, or before, you're raising the risk of age discrimination.
This is by far the biggest problem I see. Far too many resumes simply don't contain the information that recruiters are really looking for, which essentially means the resume is ineffective. It's a communication tool, and if it's not communicating the desired content, then what's the point? It's extremely important to understand your audience and provide them with the information they need to make a decision.
Far too often I see one page resumes that really should be two, and three or four page resumes that, also, really should be two. (In fact, there should be no such thing as a four page resume, and three pages should be extremely rare.) My advice on resume length is always this - aim for two pages, use one if it makes more sense, go to three if absolutely necessary, and never go longer.
Make no mistake - the appearance of your resume is crucial, and that includes white space, bold, capitalization, headings, underlining, color, font type, font size, layout, margins, formatting, etc. When someone first opens a document, they can tell right away whether it's going to be an enjoyable read or not. If the resume is organized, consistent, neat, and tidy, then it's much more likely to get read from beginning to end. It's all about first impressions.
I hope this article has provided you with some value. Cheers!
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