You sit down to put your resume together and ponder what should go in, and what should NOT go in. The last thing you want to do is make a major resume writing mistake, right?
You want to make an excellent first impression. You want your email inbox to be flooded with requests for interviews.
Do you think one of these resume mistakes is the worst thing you can do?
- Wrong formatting
- Not enough experience for the job
- Not enough advanced education
- Leading with a self-serving objective statement
- Employment gaps that send up red flags
- Too many pages
While these (and others) may all be blunders that can sabotage your chances, the biggest mistake any executive job seeker can make with their resume – or LinkedIn profile, other online profiles, or any career marketing materials – is:
NO CLEAR TARGETING
That is, not determining at the start of your job search which companies and types of roles within them are a good mutual fit.
Think about it. The purpose of a resume is to qualify you as a potential candidate – both in personal character and in skill sets – and to make people reading about you feel compelled to want to meet you and learn more.
Recruiters and hiring decision makers assessing you through your resume (or LinkedIn profile, etc.) don’t have time to sift through irrelevant information. They need to quickly and clearly see your ROI to their company. The hiring process is costly to them. They want to avoid hiring people who won’t be right for them.
How can you write about what makes you a good fit for a company, if you haven’t chosen target companies, don’t know what challenges they’re facing right now, and can’t align your qualifications with their pressing needs?
And how can you define your personal brand if you don’t know your target audience? You won’t be able to create brand messaging that will resonate with anyone.
Nothing in your resume should be arbitrary. Everything in it needs to position you as the right fit for the employers reading it.
Your resume needs to speak to and market your promise of value to specific employers, so that they can picture you there, positively impacting the company. If necessary, tweak your resume to customize it for each company.
Another reason lack of targeting is a big resume writing mistake
If you’ve been networking your way into the companies you want to work for, you may have gotten a referral and introduction from an employee at one of those companies.
Networking to referral to hire is one of the best ways to land a great-fit job. Many companies offer incentives to their employees to bring in good hires. It saves them money in the costly hiring process. The referring employee also gets something. And you may get a job. Everyone wins.
So let’s say someone at a company you want to work for has connected you with a hiring decision maker there. You send them your un-targeted, all-over-the-place resume. Because it doesn’t clearly show that you have the experience and expertise to help them with certain problems, they question your fit for the job.
Your chances of being hired could come to a screeching halt. And you could make the employee look bad in their employer’s eyes. Plus you could turn that employee against you and lose a valuable connection within a company you want to work for.
Whenever your resume comes into play in the hiring process, it needs to speak volumes to the employer about how you’re going to help them meet current challenges and impact bottom line.
How to get a handle on targeting and avoid that big resume writing mistake
- Compile a list of 15-20 (or so) target companies that look like a good fit for both you and them.
- Research each company and your industry.
- Look for well-written job descriptions they have posted for the kind of position you want, even if the geographical location isn’t right for you. They will be loaded with the relevant keywords that need to be in your resume, and will outline required qualifications and skill sets.
- If you have a connection at a company, make note of everything that person tells you about company culture and what they want in employees.
- Make a list of the keywords, areas of expertise, qualifications and skill sets that crop up consistently in your research.
- Write down specific examples, with metrics, of contributions and accomplishments you made in the past in those areas, to demonstrate the value you offer these employers.
- Use challenge-actions-results storytelling to make those contributions come alive and help employers understand who you are and how you get things done.
- Pull all this information together in a magnetic executive resume that attracts people to you.
If you don’t do these things, you’ll end up with a generic resume, trying to cover too many bases, and not hitting home with anyone. This can prolong your job search.
Know where you’re headed so you can focus the entire resume in one direction. Make it very clear that you’re the right person, in every respect, for the job you’re targeting.