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Is Your Resume Hurting You?

At, it's something we hear all the time.

"I've been sending out resume after resume, for two months, and I've gotten no response whatsoever. I know the job market is tough right now, but I'm wondering if maybe my resume is the problem."

More often than not, we do find that the resumes our clients bring to us could be vastly improved. It's hard to say if the old resume is actually a detriment to a client's job search chances, but in a tight employment market like we have today, it's important to remember that every little detail matters.

Of course, we all know the old adage that a resume has to grab the reader's attention. But more than simply getting noticed, the resume has to sell your skills effectively. A resume is very much a marketing document. As a potential employee, you have to market your skills, your experience and your potential benefits to the employer. If your resume is a) not good at grabbing a reader's attention and/or b) not doing a good job of efficiently and effectively selling you as a professional, then you could very well be hurting yourself.

After all, every bad resume you send out might close a door to an opportunity that otherwise might have been yours for the taking.

Here is a quick, 5 point checklist to help you determine whether your resume is a help or a hindrance to your job search:

  1. Does the resume catch the eye? - A bland, boring resume design is the first, quickest, almost subliminal turnoff for a reader. Take a look at some resume samples online (some can be found at our website). Pick one that you think is the most impressive. Does yours look like it can compete with that design? Which resume would you rather read? We're not suggesting adding pictures or graphics or other bells and whistles but on a basic level of text design, layout and formatting, does your current resume grab the eye?

  2. Is your resume efficient? - Good design is not just about looking professional. It's also about presenting information efficiently. Remember, your resume might be in a pile of 200 other applicants. You and your competitors might share the same qualifications. But can the reader glean that instantly from your resume or does he/she have to hunt for your relevant skills/qualifications in layers and layers of text?

  3. Do you sell yourself effectively? - One of the biggest mistakes people make when they write their own resume is to simply produce a list. We often see page after page of "First I did this, then I did this, then I did this" That's not a resume; that a list. A resume is a document that presents your marketable skills and accomplishments in a proactive, emphasized way. Your job history is obviously a key component of a resume; but it's not the only component. Utilize "Professional Highlights" a "Skills Summary" or "Selected Accomplishments" sections to help bring the important information to the fore.

  4. Do you highlight the right info? - Presenting all your relevant information is fine, but highlighting the right information is crucial. Space on a resume is limited. You don't have room to list every great thing you've ever done since birth; nor do you want to. It is far better to highlight skills/accomplishments/accolades that are the most relevant to the position you are applying for. Make your resume directed and focused.

  5. Do you present a compelling case for being hired? - Don't tell the employer what sort of position you're hoping they can provide for you. Tell them what sort of an employee you can be for them. Think of it from the employer's point of view: they're reviewing resumes because they have a need to fill. If your resume can provide a compelling argument that hiring you would actually be a boon to the company - if you can demonstrate that you can elicit results or bring creativity and growth to the position - then they know that need will be filled.

If you answered "no" to any or all of the above, you should seriously consider re-evaluating your resume. Have a colleague critique it. Take a look at the many fine resume writing books on the market. Or come get some professional guidance at

- Amy Wilson