The #1 mistake you’re making in your Resume

And how fixing this can be a game-changer for landing your dream job

I see hundreds of Resumes a week. In addition to overseeing recruitment for three companies, I also operate a professional Resume Writing service called CV Genie which gets dozens of daily requests from job seekers around the world who wish to stand out and impress employers with impactful Resumes. It is with this experience that I can say I see a common flaw in nearly every Resume I read — and correcting this can be a game changer for landing your dream job.

The biggest mistake we make when writing about our previous work experience (the most important section for potential employers) is we put far more emphasis on what we did (i.e. our generic job roles, responsibilities, routine tasks etc.) than on what we achieved (our accomplishments, measurable results, and contributions to previous employers). Many of us simply write what sounds like a mere job description under ‘Work Experience’ when it should be used as an opportunity to impress potential employers by showcasing our most significant achievements and demonstrating what we can deliver going forward.

For example, If you are in Sales and Marketing, you don’t score points with recruiters by simply mentioning that you sold products to customers or carried out marketing campaigns. This is already implied by your designation. You should rather mention by how much you increased sales during your tenure or how many new followers your online marketing campaigns attracted for the company. Keep in mind that your achievements carry even more weight when considered with the market challenges brought on by Covid-19 i.e. did you take an initiative as Finance Manager to reduce overhead costs during the Pandemic? and how did this result in bringing down your company’s processing costs to preserve net margins? What if you aren’t from the corporate world at all where results are more easily measured? If you’re a Teacher, you can mention how many of your students went on to gain distinctions, awards, and even entries into prestigious universities as a testament to your teaching skills. If you’re a Lawyer, how many cases did you try for your clients that returned a verdict in their favour?

Now you must be thinking; what if I haven’t achieved anything worth mentioning? If you’re new to the job market or haven’t yet enough authority to influence results, you still have a case to make to potential employers. And that is to highlight your learnings and skills which you gained as a result of your previous experiences. For example, if your job was to enter data on a spreadsheet or prepare documents, did this improve your attention-to-detail?, did you show an aptitude for multitasking or working under the pressure of deadlines? These are personal-level achievements which your next employer may nonetheless be interested in. You can mention these under your work experience over merely saying you entered data on spreadsheets or prepared documentation.

It helps to think of all this in the following way; imagine you’re at an interview for your dream job and you are asked the following question—“Why should we hire you?” At this point, do you list out all the things you did routinely at your old jobs? or do you mention your greatest past achievements and how that experience developed in you the skillset that will help you deliver the same—or better—results in future? If you’re sensible you would do the latter, but why wait till the interview to do so when the primary objective of your Resume is to get you that all-important interview in the first place? Your first impression with a potential employer starts well before they meet you in person. It starts the minute you send out your Resume, so you owe it to your future career to make sure your past employment is one worth reading.

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