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Why Resumes Fail

Jun 18, 2008
I've been knocking around the business world for over 20 years now and I've seen many, many resumes. And It never ceases to amaze me how so many of them just flat out fail! Why do you think that is?

Is it because most people simply don't know how to put a resume together? Hmm, maybe. But most people never submit just one resume in their job search. So shouldn't there be some improvement from one to the next?
I think there are three main factors that work against the average job seeker when it comes to building a proper resume. Think of them as three obstacles that each of us has to overcome. Here they are.

The Time Obstacle...

We live in extremely busy times. When we're not rushing off to work, rushing home from work, rushing to soccer practice, choir practice, or piano practice, we're trying to catch up on the bills, emails, or chores. How can we carve out the time to put together that killer resume?

Well, the hard truth of it is there's no special pill you can take to create more time in your life. If you want time for something, you'll have to take it away from something else. And that's usually a painful choice. My advice would be to start small and try to do it in small increments. For instance take a little bit of your lunch hour to do something related to your resume. If you stick with it for a few days, it will get to be a (good) habit. Once you've gotten it going, look for another place you can expand it. You'll be surprised at how those little slices of time add up into achievement.

The Skill Obstacle...

Writing a good resume takes certain writing skills that aren't really learned in school. Even people with true writing talent struggle with resume writing so don't feel bad. This is one skill you have to learn by doing.

I've picked up my resume-writing skills over the last 20-some years by writing, reading, and being exposed to perhaps thousands of resumes. If you have some natural writing skill, take a shot at writing your resume...work through it...you'll get a little better with each draft. But if you can't "write your way out of a paper bag," then you need to get some help.

Get your hands on some resume templates and try to squeeze your experiences and achievements into their formats. Purchase an inexpensive resume builder to get you going. Ask an experienced friend or family member to mentor you. In other words, "reach out" for help...you'll be amazed how many people will want to give you a hand.

The Dedication Obstacle...

Writing resumes, sending them out, tracking them, and following up on them is real work! It's a shame we don't get paid for it. Hey, wait a minute...we do get paid for it. Because if we stick with it, we get the job.

Try not to get discouraged. Finding a job is a numbers game. The more resumes you put out there, the better your chances. Get in the habit of "doing the next one." Even if you've landed an interview...especially if you've landed an interview! Keep cranking them out, getting better with each one, and one day...POW...you'll have that job offer. In fact, I'll bet that if you get into the "crank-em-out" mindset, you'll get more than one job offer.

Good luck with your job search and thanks for reading
About the Author
Ed Sharp is a semi-retired independent business consultant who lives in sunny Southern California where he loves getting paid to tell Fortune 1000 managers how to do their jobs better. He is a regular contributor to several websites and is the founder of ResumeBlue.com .
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