Why Your Resume Hates You Back: 5 Peacemaking Tips

hug a paper“I hate my resume.”  I hear that a lot when I talk to people about their resume.

The reasons vary and include things like

It’s boring
It doesn’t really tell my story
It’s all over the place
It doesn’t really say anything

Here’s the thing – as much as you hate your resume and it has all these negative traits, do you realize that you have put them in there?

Your resume didn’t write itself, it was just a blank piece of paper that you put words to. It wants to be exciting and tell your story in a way that is engaging, effective and says the best about you – but you won’t let it. That is why it doesn’t like you back.

One of the hardest things to do is to write about yourself. It might start out easy, but then you get stuck. That voice in your head starts putting in its two cents. Things like:

You really didn’t do anything there
Doesn’t that sound like bragging?
You were just a Position Name, it wasn’t that big of a deal
No one cares about this

That is another reason your resume doesn’t like you, you don’t respect its content – which happens to be your value.

Let’s start making peace with your resume.

Stop looking like everyone else

It is your resume, let it represent you. If you do not like the visual appearance, odds are you will not like sending it out or be able to write anything that supports you.

Remedy: Go to Google and type in ‘Resume Sample’ then click on Images. Do not read any of the thousands of images that appear, just glance through them. Find one that you are attracted to and recreate the visual for your own resume.

Set the stage

Every good story starts with an engaging introduction. Under your letterhead, create an opening statement that sets the stage and expectation for the reader. In this opening answer the reader’s most important question: What can you do for me? They need to know why they want to read your resume rather than any other. This is where you tell them the very best about yourself. Your skills, abilities, audiences, successes – all the things you bring to the table.

Remedy: Write this after the rest of your resume. Trying to write this first can cause more stress. Once you have found and demonstrated your value throughout the rest of your resume, you will find it easier to know your strengths and the themes that carried through your resume.  The more you like it, the more you will promote it.

Tell them what you did, not your job description

One of the most common things I see in reading career histories is the tendency to detail job descriptions. This tells them what you were hired to do, which does not tell them if you did it or even did it well. You can use a job description as a start, but to add value you need to dig deeper.

Think about who you worked with, how you worked with them, what was the point of what you did, who benefited and how did they benefit? Incorporate these questions into the job description and it will transcend it from a “hired to do” to an “added value” statement.

Remedy: At the end of your bullet points, write the words, “which resulted in” and finish the sentence. Then freestyle it, write it in a way of just talking through it. You can put it in resume language later. For example:

1. Prepared weekly reports.
2. Prepared weekly reports which resulted in…
3. Prepared weekly reports which resulted in the Purchasing having the numbers they need to see they are on budget and keep track of what they paid vendors, gave reports to Controller and talked about what information was needed, rewrote the spreadsheet to make it easier to input and put together, Controller said it helped a lot and was a better report, emailed it to admin…
4. Recognized by Controller for creating effective weekly departmental reports utilized for budget and vendor price tracking.

Find your theme

Instead of telling the reader where you have been and letting them try to figure out how that fits into what they need, write your resume forward.

Look at the position you want and write toward that position. Identify the important skills, qualities or abilities for that position and then review your history to find the similarities.

If the position you want requires a great deal of experience or ability in customer service, first, analyze what it takes to provide good customer service. Good communication skills, listening, problem solving, thinking on your feet, collaboration, adaptability, positive attitude, professionalism…

Now, go back to your past positions and incorporate those traits in your statements. Describe the detail of your past positions from this perspective.

Remedy: Edit your existing bullet points by incorporating those key words. Instead of saying you presented a report to the group, say you utilized effective communication skills to present the report and ensured engagement and understanding of each team member.

Start appreciating you

It is not just what you did, it is how you did it and what someone gained by you doing it rather than anyone else. Someone else can have the same job that you do, but you do it in a different – and better – way. That is the story you need to tell. That is the story you need to appreciate and tell that voice in your head to hush.

It can be hard to quiet the bragging factor, feeling like when you say something good about what you do that it sounds like you are bragging. Think of it this way – if you did it then it is a fact, all you are doing is stating facts. That is not bragging.

Demonstrating eliminates the bragging effect. Saying you are the best at something and leaving it at that is bragging. Stating that you are excellent at something then demonstrating how you do it and the value that it provides is stating a fact.

Remedy: Incorporate two things into writing your information: the 5 Whys and explaining it to a young person. The 5 whys is a questioning method to find cause and effect. Explaining it in a way that you would to a young person allows you to break it down into the basics. Then you can go back and rewrite it in resume language.

I write a report
The Controller needs it
For their forecasting and tracking
To see if they are on budget and how much they pay vendors
Because the company wants to save money and sometimes if we don’t keep track of the numbers, we overpay
Because we have over 100 vendors and it is hard to keep track of them

From this you can take a “Wrote weekly report” and turn it into “Wrote and delivered weekly report to Controller meticulously tracking over 100 vendor pricing to ensure accuracy of payments and adherence to budgets.
The bottom line is it your job to tell your story to present yourself as the solution to a prospective employer’s problem. When you can do so from a place of demonstrated, appreciated value you and your resume will begin to work together in a peaceful, happy relationship to take you both where you want to go.

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