4 Ways Your Resume Might Be Unbalanced (And How to Fix It)
posted on September 5, 2019 | by Sophia Ronga
I’ve been told that I should be “well-rounded” since I was – if I had to guess – in middle school. As soon as adults in your life get even the slightest bit of inclination that you might be interested in college, they’ll start peppering you with this advice. It only continues to get worse from there. Faced with the prospect of having to – gasp – find a job, I found myself constantly trying to put myself out there. Try a new thing. Fill a “key gap”.
And it’s good advice! You shouldn’t pigeon-hole yourself into one thing. Employers want to know that you’re a well-rounded individual with hobbies, goals, and dreams that go beyond being obsessed with one thing.
The issue? While I was working hard to show that I was well-rounded in life, I wasn’t doing the best job of communicating this via my resume. My resume was, yes, my Greatest Hits of college triumphs and full-time wins, but it tended to be a bit unbalanced.
Today, I’m sharing four common mistakes I see that make resumes (and the people behind them) seem unbalanced, and how to fix them!
Mistake 1: Only showing what you were responsible for
For so long, I thought I could piece together a resume by taking a list of roles that I had held, copying and pasting the job descriptions for those roles onto my resume, formatting it cleanly, and calling it a day. This shows that people trusted you, and may have even paid you, to carry out tasks, but it does not necessarily guarantee that you were any good at actually doing what you were asked.
The fix? Show what you’ve accomplished. Not only were you responsible for curating a brand’s social media presence, but you accomplished a total overhaul of prior branding, increasing following and engagement along the way. Not only were you responsible for tutoring high school students on their SATs, but you were recognized by your manager as having the highest increase in pre- and post-tutoring SAT scores.
Those ways of showing what you’ve accomplished are good, yes, but take it one step further and quantify it. 40% increase in following in your first 3 months. 60 point increase in your students’ SAT scores in one section. You were responsible for these things and you absolutely knocked them out of the park.
Mistake 2: Only showing your hard skills
Yes, it’s important to be tech-savvy in the workplace. It’s impressive that you learned a coding language, that you are a PowerPoint genius, or that you have familiarity with how to use SalesForce.
The issue, however, lies in only showing those skillsets. Increasingly, employers are also looking for individuals who have soft skills. Things like verbal communication and the ability to work with a team are harder to teach someone. Showing off that you have them already makes you that much more of an attractive candidate.
The fix? Show your soft skills too. Rework some of your bullet points to convey how you accomplished some of the kick-ass things you did, inclusive of the soft skills you used. You managed to a team, helping others engage collaboratively to pull off your company’s latest fundraiser. You effectively communicated a red flag to your boss and helped save the company from a big financial misstep.
Mistake 3: Only detailing your formal work experience
Particularly poignant for those college/grad school pals reading this but everything – and I mean everything – can count as relevant experience. If it helped teach you a skill or challenged you to solve a problem, even if it is tangentially related to the job you’re applying for, I would consider putting it on your resume.
The fix? Show who you are and what you’ve done outside of your typical working hours and convey how those things can translate to this job. Write down a few skills that this job requires. Good, written communication. Attention to detail. A willingness to go the extra mile.
Now write down some of the things you’ve done outside of work experience. Taken a class that involved a number of in-class essay assignments. Completed a data analytics project. Volunteered at your local community center. Those things line up and it’s OK to connect those dots for your potential employer.
Mistake 4: Not being specific to the job you’re looking for
If you don’t tailor your application specifically for the job you are applying for, your resume is likely to be unbalanced in that it will be vague and unrelated. You want to 1) get through the Applicant Tracking System (the software that reads your resume, pulls out keywords, and decides whether you’re a good fit) and 2) convince the eventual reader that you want this job (even if the reality is that you want any job).
The fix? Ensure that relevant skills and keywords are included in your resume. I’m not saying you have to have every single skill listed in the description in order to apply for a job, but pull out a few skills that you know are highly relevant to the position/industry and highly relevant to your experience. Make sure those keywords are highlighted (not to be taken literally) in your descriptions and that any industry-specific language that may be necessary is included where it should be.
I hope these help anyone looking to update their resume! If you have any other tips, please share!