If your job hunt is one long cycle of dead ends, you may be ready to give up on chasing those elusive interviews. Every resume tells a story, and yours may inadvertently characterize you as an undesirable job seeker. Look at your resume with fresh eyes to spot red flags of a bad hire, so you don't immediately give hiring managers the impression that you're an unqualified job seeker.
1. Chronically Unemployed Candidates
Employers want to find the best talent, and many unfairly assume job seekers are out of touch with best practices or lagging in skills after a lengthy unemployment. Whether you were laid off from your last job or left voluntarily for personal reasons, don't leave a major gap in your work history unexplained.
Beef up the experience on your resume with any freelance, temp or volunteer work you completed during your unemployment, making sure to highlight relevant skills and accomplishments. Use your resume's career summary and your cover letter to clear up any further questions by briefly mentioning key projects or education you completed to keep your skills and industry knowledge sharp.
2. Job Hopper
Although spending less time with a single employer has become more acceptable, hiring managers are still suspicious when a job seeker's resume is riddled with short stints. Employers want hires who stick around long enough to provide a return on investment, and simply tweaking the dates on your resume makes you seem untrustworthy. Instead, downplay the length of the job by focusing on the most valuable results you delivered in each role. Clearly identify contract and temp work to let hiring managers know why the roles were short-term, and consider removing a full-time position altogether if you quit or were fired after only a few months.
3. Overqualified Candidates
While you might see advanced skills as a bonus, hiring managers are often concerned that overqualified candidates expect a higher salary than they can offer. Fortunately, your cover letter can eliminate red flags. Maybe you enjoy using a different skill set than your previous job allowed or want better work-life balance. Whatever the case, assure hiring managers that you don't see the job as a step downward and your expectations align with the job duties.
4. Demoted Candidates
Not everyone lives for higher salaries and impressive promotions, but that doesn't stop hiring managers from making assumptions about job seekers who have a complicated career progression. If you chose to downgrade your career, briefly summarize your top accomplishments and reason for leaving the position in the resume description. However, if a demotion wasn't voluntary and omitting it isn't a good option, consider grouping the positions together under one company name and focusing on your collective achievements with that employer.
5. Unfocused Candidates
Generic or confusing resumes make you easy to reject, so tailor them to each employer by incorporating keywords from the job posting. Make sure your entire resume conveys your specialized expertise. If you went from graphic design to tutoring to retail customer service, use the career statement, skills section and job descriptions to explain the core solution you delivered across all those roles.
Hiring managers quickly form opinions about job seekers. Getting feedback from trusted colleagues can help you spot incriminating details before you submit anymore resumes.
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