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10 Ways to Prevent Your Resume From Looking like a Zombie


11/15/2012 4:01:26 PM

10 Ways to Prevent Your Resume From Looking like a Zombie Does Your Resume Resemble a Zombie; 10 ways to Prevent This
By Bob McIntosh, Career Trainer

My son had been talking about being a soccer-player zombie for Halloween at least two months prior to this much-anticipated night. He explained he would paint his face white; outline his eyes with black; and, most importantly; apply fake blood to the sides of his mouth and dripping down from his eyes. The way he described it got me stoked for Halloween.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when his friend from up the street showed up as a zombie. Nor should I have been surprised when our adult neighbor walked over dressed as, you guessed it, a zombie. Because she’s pregnant, she had doll baby legs extruding from her large belly. I asked her what her husband was going to dress as, and she told me…a farmer zombie. Further, they dressed their one-year-old son as a zombie.

At least five zombie kids came to my door, and we were only one hour into a night of candy-crazed kids roaming the streets. I felt like I was in an episode of the Walking Dead.

What does this year’s Halloween have to do with the job search? It brings to mind how employers feel about the slew of resumes they receive that lack originality. Like nearly every kid (and adult) I saw dressed as zombies, employers are getting resumes that don’t speak to their needs; they are zombie résumés. Your resume is a zombie if it has the following characteristics:

1. A cookie cutter resume. Written and done, is how some feel about their resume. No thought about what employers need, therefore no mention of the skills and experience highlighting those needs.

2. Failure to capitalize on your accomplishments. Quantified accomplishments are what immediately grab employers’ attention at first glance. Duty-based resumes don’t separate you from many other candidates.

3. Contact information that lacks your LinkedIn URL. David Perry and Kevin Donlin, Co-Creators of The Guerrilla Job Search System, write, “If you’re not on LinkedIn and looking good, you don’t exist to most employers.” You have a zombie resume if you’re not on LinkedIn and don’t proudly display it in your contact information.

4. No branding headline. The best way to say who you are and what your areas of strength are is by having a headline that sets you apart from the other applicants. It’s where you first state keywords and phrases. Zombie resumes fail to make use of this valuable real estate.

5. A say-nothing Performance Profile. Zombie resumes lack grabbing statements like, Result-driven Project Manager with 20 years of experience in Manufacturing. Instead, Project Manager who leads teams producing software that generate sales exceeding $3M in competitive manufacturing markets, would be more enticing to the employer.

6. The Performance Profile isn’t prioritized. A zombie resume fails to demonstrate your knowledge of what’s important to the employer, based on the job description. Your Profile should state your qualifications in order of the employer’s requirements, thus making her job of finding them very easy. Prioritize your statements.

7. No core competency section. A resume is not complete unless it has a Core Competency section that lists the skills required for a position, plus additional ones that can add to a person’s candidacy. Additionally, this section contributes to the keyword count that elevates the résumé to the must-read pile, based on what the applicant tracking system (ATS) finds.

8. The Work History lacks relevant accomplishments. Perhaps the most important aspect of a résumé is the Work History, but what makes it escape Zombie status is powerful accomplishment statements. Accomplishments that describe how you have contributed to the growth of an organization/company. Increased revenue, improved production, reduced costs, saved time are but a few accomplishments you should highlight.

9. There’s no Training Section. If you were fortunate enough to receive training or took advantage of professional development, you should have a section for training. A zombie resume contains no Training section and screams to employers that, “I have not taken advantage of bettering myself and keeping up with technologies.”

10. The Education Section is incomplete and includes dates. All to often I have seen resumes that skimp on the Education section. Whether you earned a degree 5 years ago or 20, this section informs the employer that you started and completed something. Don’t be shy about writing that you made the Dean’s list four years running, something you accomplished through dedication and hard work.

Zombies roamed my neighborhood on Halloween walking lethargically, extending their hands for candy, just as many resumes lack the imagination and authenticity required to earn a place at an interview. Don’t submit a zombie resume. Rather think about the ten important components of your résumé and how to make them strong. Who knows what next year’s Halloween will bring?

Read more biotech career tips. Find more biotech and pharma jobs by visiting the career center.

About the Author

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. Bob is often the person jobseekers and staff go to for advice on the job search. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. One of his greatest accomplishments is starting a LinkedIn group, which is one of the largest of its kind in the state, and developing three in-high-demand workshops on LinkedIn. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Please visit Bob's blog at www.thingscareerrelated.wordpress.com.

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