Woman with laptop

Here's why no one is reading your resume

Written by Peter Harris
Posted on

There’s a kind of profile one stumbles across in online dating that makes you wonder who would ever take the time to get in touch with them. It’s not that there’s any one thing so wrong with them, it’s just that they are quickly passed over because they haven’t in any way distinguished themselves from the plenty of fish in the sea.

Those same mistakes are often made on the job search as well. Don’t be the undateable candidate.

Just imagine you were a single person using an online dating website to find some potential company for an evening out. You’re browsing through the profiles, assessing how much you like the look of people and how closely their self-descriptions seem to match with your tastes and interests.

So what would make of the profile with a shadowy black and white photo that doesn’t really tell you what the person actually looks like, and a description that reads like this?

    “I am a fairly attractive person of medium build who loves to have fun. I have a variety of interests including great food, good friends and lots of laughs. I’m looking for an honest and outgoing partner for late nights, long talks, and endless activities.”

Would you connect with this person? No. They’d be ‘nexted.’ Swipe left. Why?

You just don’t know enough about them to grab your interest. They like food, friends, and laughter. That sure sets them apart from all those people who don’t eat, have no friends, and hate humour. Who doesn’t like to ‘have fun?’ And as for ‘endless activities,’ that could range from great amazing adventures to the oh-my-god-get-me-out-of-here.

You have specific wants and needs you look for in someone that you want to spend time with, and you’re most likely to only go on that first date with people who seem to closely match what you’re looking for.

Employers skip over the vague and generic too

Employers have specific needs for the job they are trying to fill, and vague statements about being a well-organized, hard worker, who’s a great team player are a waste of time and ink. (Although they do sure set you apart from all of the disorganized, lazy, loners who might apply for the job.)

Employers can receive literally hundreds of resumes for a job posting. In order to stand out from that crowd (the plenty of fish in the sea), you need to demonstrate in a glance that you are qualified for the job, that you are interested in that particular opportunity, and that you can be an asset to the team.

Three quick ways to customize your resume

    Make sure the title of your resume matches the job title that you’re applying for. Too many applicants miss this simple customization step. I’ve mentioned before how I received a resume from a poet (the resume title was Poet) for a job as an editor. Note: If you’re applying for a job as an editor, be an editor.

    Instead of kicking off your resume with an ‘objective statement’ about what you want, open with a skills summary that highlights your key qualifications for the specific job and employer you’re targeting.

    Then describe your past work experience and accomplishment in a way that points out most how what you’ve done demonstrates what you can do for your potential employer.

A targeted, focused resume from a candidate who has done their homework and is genuinely trying to make a connection with a specific employer and job will always be more attractive than a generic application.

As my colleague Elizabeth says, “If you want the girl in Birkenstocks, you bring a didgeridoo to the park.” If you want the phone to ring, don’t be an undateable.


Peter Harris
Peter Harris on Twitter


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