Resumes & Cover Letters

How to solve your biggest resume problems

Written by Eric Titner

Do you think that creating your resume is a “one and done” process? If so, then think again. The truth is, you should think of your resume as a constantly evolving document—one that changes over time as your background, experience, and skill set expand. It should also be continually tailored and honed to meet the needs of your target company and/or industry, which may change over time.

But there’s another reason why you should never close the door on resume updating, one that might be keeping you from achieving your goal of landing your next great job—your current resume might have some serious problems that you’re either unaware of or have simply ignored. And in today’s ultra-competitive job market, resume problems—even the small ones—may mean the difference between getting hired and losing out to another candidate who made a more polished first impression.

Get focused and organized

Just as an unkempt appearance can make a bad first impression, an unfocused resume can really reflect poorly on you. Hiring managers and HR personnel are busy people who don’t have the time (or the desire) to untangle or decipher a murky, disjointed resume. So, getting things organized and focused before you even think about where you’d like to send your resume should be a top priority.

Your best bet is a streamlined approach—create clearly delineated sections for your objective, experience, education, and key skills, and make sure they’re targeted to the standards of the industry you hope to join. Better still, laser focus your resume to attract positive attention from the specific company that you’re eager to get hired by and repeat the process every time you decide to send out your resume.

Also, before you decide to send out your resume, take a step back from your document and review it again to make sure it tells a cohesive and chronological narrative about who you are as a professional and what potential value you offer a prospective employer. If you can get a trusted colleague, mentor, friend, or family member to review your resume, even better—a fresh set of eyes and a second opinion is always a good idea.

Bottom line: on the job hunt trail, a well-tailored resume is like a well-tailored outfit, and it’s your best chance of making a positive and lasting impression on the folks who matter—those who make the hiring decisions.

Put your best self forward

You might be shocked to learn that many people leave out some big and impressive feathers from their resume caps and fail to highlight all their skills, talents, and accomplishments—things that can really make a candidate stand out from the candidate crowd. Have you earned any company or industry awards? Did you develop a major revenue-generating product or idea for a previous employer? Did you come up with or implement a significant cost-savings plan or process at a previous job? Do you excel in any particular talent or skill that’s desired in your industry? Ask yourself these sorts of questions when constructing your resume, and make sure that your resume highlights your very best self—the version of you that has the best chance of getting hired.

Always edit

This may sound obvious but ask any hiring manager worth their paycheck and you’ll undoubtedly hear some real resume horror stories that could have easily been avoided had their creators just took a little extra time to review and edit their work. Isn’t the prospect of landing a great new job worth the additional effort? Sweep your resume for errors, inconsistencies, typos, and anything else that might give readers some pause or make them scratch their heads. Trust us, it’s worth your time—nothing sets off alarm bells for hiring managers and HR personnel in quite the same way as a resume riddled with mistakes.

If you’re on the job hunt and want to ensure that you’re giving yourself a real shot at landing a new position, use the strategies and advice presented here to ensure that your resume problems are solved before sending it out. Take the time to make sure you’re putting forth the best document possible—one that will get you hired.


About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.