Signs Your Resume Needs a Complete Makeover

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Your resume is a representation of your skills, experience and education. It’s often the first thing a prospective employer sees, so it’s important that those sheets of paper make a great impression. After all, in a sea of resumes from eager and competitive job applicants, yours really needs to shine to get noticed.

Read: Is Your Resume Up To Par With the Competition?

Sure, you may know that every time you get a new job, your resume needs to be updated with the most recent information. But what if your resume has issues that will require more than a simple update? What if it requires an overhaul? And just what are those issues? Here’s what to look for to determine if your resume needs a makeover. Caution: More than one of these issues may apply.

The Design Is Overcomplicated

“[One of] the biggest mistakes in resumes that I see often are too much design, which makes it harder to read and comprehend the text, and it is very annoying,” said Kateryna Reshetilo, head of marketing at a web development agency. “In my opinion, the simpler the better.”

Sometimes, before an actual human reads your resume, it will go through applicant tracking software, which doesn’t work well with overcomplicated resume designs.

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” … ATS (applicant tracking software) is used by recruiters to sift CVs for shortlisting,” said Joe Wilson, senior career advisor at MintResume. “The system relies on keywords, which are very important in a resume, but design is also a factor. Generally, PDFs, images, colors and lots of different fonts are not compliant, which rules out many of the CV templates you can find online. Your best bet is a simple, clear, professional CV in a word document, with all the right keywords for your industry and to meet the job criteria.”

The Formatting Is Wrong

“I’ve seen organizing all of the information on a resume in bullet lists as a recent trend, but this layout can be just as tedious to read as organizing your information in long blocks of text,” said Steph Cartwright, CPRW and the founder of Off The Clock Resumes LLC. “Overhauling your resume to alternate between short paragraph job summaries — that outline the most relevant skills you possess for your career goals in action — and bullet lists — that strategically draw attention to your top achievements or contributions toward achieving goals — will be much appreciated by the recruiters and hiring managers who review your resume.”

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Key Information Is Missing in the Introduction

The introduction of your resume is important because it’s the first thing the reader will see. Not including your skills at the top of your resume is a mistake, according to Joblist CEO Kevin Harrington. 

“At the top of your resume, detail specializations, technical skills and specific achievements,” Harrington said. “This will enable an employer to see whether you’re a good fit without reading through your entire resume. Considering you only have an average of six seconds to make a good first impression, stating your skills boldly and promptly can make all the difference.”

There Are Wrong or Missing Details

If your resume is full of buzzwords, it needs an overhaul. “Many job seekers make the mistake of featuring these overused words such as experienced, leadership, skilled and passionate in their resumes,” Harrington said. “While this technique is intended to help applicants stand out, it often makes them sound like every other applicant.”

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But buzzwords aren’t the only details you should watch out for. Deepak Shukla, career expert and founder of Resume Cats, a resume building service and career advice hub, believes that if your resume doesn’t have hyperlinks, you need to go back to the drawing board.

“Most resumes are viewed online, so if your resume doesn’t have hyperlinks, it needs an overhaul,” Shukla said. “Link to your LinkedIn account in your contact details section. If any of your work is online, for example, an article that you wrote, link to that too. This way you can show your potential employer more, without lengthening your resume.”

And if your resume is not focused on metrics, revise it. “Recruiters don’t want a task list of what you were responsible for in your last job,” said Amanda Ahern, founder and part-owner of Mid-Florida Material Handling. “We want to know if you made an impact. The first thing I look for in a resume is specific examples of when the candidate succeeded. The easiest way to show this is through a metric improvement. I want to see cost savings, productivity increases, project on-time-delivery. Find a clever way to integrate these facts into your resume and you’ll be a step ahead.”

Read: 24 Tips To Change Your Career and Land Your Dream Job

It’s Too Long

While some resume experts believe your resume shouldn’t exceed one page, people with years of experience and accomplishments may find that writing a resume that brief is an impossible task. Chelsey Opare-Addo, founder of Not Your Mother’s Resume, doesn’t promote or discount the one-page resume, but she does have her limits. “If your resume is over two pages (three for Senior Executives) it’s time for a complete overhaul,” Opare-Addo said. “Resumes are like the trailer to the movie that is your career. You don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty details, just high-level accomplishments and a brief overview.”

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Last updated: March 24, 2021

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About the Author

Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 15 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, AOL, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle and The Seattle Times. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
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