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Identifying Deal Breakers on Your Resume

Identifying Deal Breakers on Your Resume

Often job seekers who are puzzled why they are not getting a response to their resume. Many times, it is that the candidate is not a good fit for the role or the market is rich with more qualified candidates. However, it is important to examine your resume to be sure that your resume does not contain “deal breakers.” Some “deal breakers” you can’t control. For example, if the job requires particular education or depth of experience that you do not have, you simply are not a fit. Other times it is a matter of authentically presenting your history to showcase how you are a fit. Let’s take a look at the top “deal breakers.”

1.) Education

If the position prefers or requires a particular advanced, be sure to include that in your profile. Allow the reader to affirm that you met that requirement immediately. If the job requires an MBA and you have not earned that degree, don’t be tempted to falsify your resume. Other candidates use defensive language, such as “MBA equivalent.” We don’t recommend this tactic because it almost always has a harmful effect. Instead, it is wise to bolster your resume with example of accomplishments that support the job requirements.

2.) Location

Often an employer will only consider candidates located in the area. If you want to avoid that deal breaker, only include your email and phone number on your resume. Change your target area on LinkedIn to your target location, if you are planning a relocation.

3.) Recent Experience

Many times the employer will have specific criteria as to candidate’s recent experience in a target industry and occupation. If you have relevant experience, but it is not recent, be sure that you profile and core competencies section are rich with keywords relating to that experience. After the core competencies section, add a career highlights section to showcase your top four or five relevant accomplishments. Showing experience more than fifteen or twenty years in the past can impede your search, so be careful about going back too far with listings of positions and dates.

4.) Level of Authority

This is where titles matter. If you are applying to an executive position and your highest rank has been manager, you could be eliminated during the first review. Some candidates will strategically list their actual title followed by a functional title, such as “Technical Manager/Head of $16M Robotics Division” if the title does not reflect their authority. Be sure to load your position descriptions with number of employees, size of budgets managed, number of locations, and other figures that show your authority. Don’t be tempted to lie. Employers routinely check for basic facts, such as your dates of employment and job title.

5.) Gaps

Gaps can hurt you, if you don’t explain them. Usually if you have one gap (even a very long gap) and you explain it, it will not be a “deal breaker.” For example, it is common for professionals to take a career break to raise a family. Including a brief career break statement will remove the question marks in the reader’s mind.

6.) Poor Content and Appearance

Take the time to ensure your resume is free of spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, rambling prose, or a sloppy format. Make sure your categories are well-defined and that you have plenty of white space so the resume is easy to read.

In some cases where the candidate pool is shallow, a recruiter or hiring manager may be more flexible about the requirements In an “employers’ market,” employers can afford to be choosy because there are so many available qualified candidates. The readers are scanning your resume quickly to ensure you meet the basic job requirements. Study the job requirements and follow the tips above to be sure your resume passes the first screening.

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