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Hiring managers see thousands upon thousands of resumes every year. That’s why job seekers have to stand out in a crowd if they are  harboring any hope they’ll be hired.

When you’re writing a resume, what you don’t know can hurt you. John Kalusa is a nationally recognized writer who speaks about corporate sales, recruiting, and personal career management. With over 25 years of experience as a strategic recruiting, human resources, and sales and marketing management leader in start-ups and Fortune 250 companies, he’s well qualified to comment on what hiring managers want to see — and what they DON’T want to see.

Mistake #1: Failing to highlight your strengths

Too many job seekers fail to incorporate a direct match between what you offer and the employer’s requirements. After all, your resume isn’t just about you. You want the recruiter or interviewer to say “Hey, we should talk to this person!” Once you’ve covered all the bases, Kalusa says “If you have room left, add statements to highlight your added value. Be hard on yourself and try to be as objective as possible.”

“For each of the requirements or position responsibilities, try to match your past experiences or skills to those requirements. Write the bullet point so it comes across as more than just a description of your activity. Try to think like the hiring manager. What is the problem they are trying to solve? How can you concisely say that you have the experience to solve their problem or deliver the value they seek?”

Mistake #2: Applying to jobs even if you’re not qualified

Don’t apply if you aren’t qualified. Period. End of story.

“If you aren’t nearly a 100% match for the key requirements, you will do yourself a disservice by applying,” Kalusa says. “It’s like saying, ‘I’m so glad you spent a lot of time to come up with the requirements so that you can find qualified and motivated people, but I don’t match those requirements.  But I’m certain there’s a place for me here so please look at my resume anyway because I’m sure if you do you’ll see I’m highly qualified for something.”

Mistake #3: Including outdated or irrelevant work experience

Don’t make it an encyclopedia or a run-on laundry list of everything you’ve ever done in your career.

According to Kalusa, “More is rarely better, but targeted with some flavor is always better. The rule of thumb I use is: 5 to 8 bullet points for your current/last position (depending on length), 3 to 5 for each of the positions going back 10 years and after that 1 (2 at most) for earlier positions.”

Mistake #4: Your resume is WAY too long

Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to read a book, so make your resume easy to read.

“Think about the solutions/values/results you helped to create and deliver,” Kalusa says. “Depending on how much experience you have and how much of that experience is appropriate for the position you are applying for, two pages should be more than enough. Remember, your resume is a marketing brochure, not a catalog!”

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  • Gary Williams

    Four great points especially #2 too many candidates take a scatter gun approach to their job search instead of being focused.

  • Hmm. Good list. All of them are true.

  • I have real trouble highlighting my strengths. Somehow, I always thought other should do that, and when I try to do it, I think that employer may find them insignificant.

    • Johnkalusa

      Daly I can certainly appreciate that it can be difficult to highlight your strengths, but think of it this way… if you’ve done your research on the company and the position, and can see the business problem they may be facing, you will be able to very directly “tell” the company what you have done previously to solve that very problem. Perhaps instead of strengths, think “what problems am I able to solve because what I’m great at?”