Inefficient Resumes … with a little help from Mr Magoo
Mr Magoo first arrived on the scene in 1949, long before most of us were born. He was originally voiced by Jim Backus, later of Gilligan’s Island. As late as 1997, Leslie Nielsen portrayed him in a very unsuccessful movie adaptation.
Magoo, like any character to remain popular over 60+ years has gone through some changes. Today, he is best known for his poor vision, coke bottle glasses, and overwhelming ignorance to the world around him. This leads to comical results…
Why Resumes remind me of Mr Magoo
Recently, I have had the privilege of advising a small team that is working on tools for Professional Development, specifically targeting resume and interview skills. One of their more recent products mines job listings across the country to understand the skills and experience that employers demand. These results are then compared to those supplied on candidate’s resumes to help drive better efficiency and alignment.
This has also lead to comical results… The fact is most resumes DO NOT list the skills that employers are seeking. Like Mr Magoo, many resume owners are short-sighted and ignorant to the reality of the job market. Most of this is driven by a lack of perspective, some by a lack of time, and some of it is a moving target (inefficiency that is likely to continue despite our best efforts).
A few examples
One common mistake that non-programmers fall into, is being too specific in listing programming and software skills. It is incredibly rare to see a job listing that actually details Oracle 11g or Microsoft Excel 2016. In contrast, many resumes do exactly that.
This may seem minor. It is true that ARS and most people are unlikely to notice. It also true that most resumes err on the side of being too long, too dense, and too hard to find the right content. So my advice, save the extra characters.
Another common mistake is being overly specific about your work. The majority of employers don’t care about the title of your project, specific brand that was the subject of your studies, or that you researched the spending patterns of the people of Dinkytown, MN. This is especially true if that experience came from a different industry than the one to which you are applying. My advice, unless it is truly special, generalize.
My final example, but far from the end of the list of issues, employers often include softer but important skills in their job descriptions. Far too many candidates fail to include these or phrase them in ways that force the hiring manager to hunt for them.
So include phrases like: team builder, consensus builder, able to make tough choice, strong communicator, prioritize, etc — you get the point. Employers are using this language and so should you, assuming it is true.
How can you fix this problem in your own resume?
First, don’t be Mr Magoo, build and learn from perspective. Observe the challenges you see in your industry and think about things from the hiring manager’s perspective. Sell yourself in their terms and you are much more likely to get that phone screen or first round interview.
Secondly, do the research. Job listings are not hard to come by. They are all over the web and your company’s intranet. Pay attention to the language they are using and note the important skills, experience, and terminology they are seeking. This will take some time, but it is not that hard.
If you don’t have the time, consider a service like the Resume Improvement Service offered by our sister company Corsair’s Technology. It is an easy, fast, an efficient way to understand if your resume is aligned with employer demand.