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Overcoming Resume Imperfections

A common question amongst many job seekers is how to overcome “imperfections” they may have on their resume. Nobody has a flawless resume—some may not have enough experience to fill out a full page, for example—but where there are imperfections, there are solutions to overcome them. Your resume should be a tool that works in your favor with prospective employers, not a roadblock that keeps you from the job. So if you’re currently on the job hunt and have concerns about your resume, look no further: here’s Jesse Siegal, Vice President of The Execu|Search Group’s temporary staffing division, explaining the top 5 resume imperfections and how to overcome them:

  1. The imperfection: Your resume is “too long”
    The solution: Despite the very real need for your resume to be concise and well-organized—and what many may tell you  employers want to see—there is actually no golden rule for resume length. We recommend that professionals with up to 10 years of experience limit their resume to one page and those with 10 and above stretch to two, but ultimately, the most important aspect of your resume is that it paints a comprehensive picture of you as a professional that aligns with the open position’s needs. If you feel your resume is on the lengthy side, try transferring your information to a functional or skills-based format by focusing on your skills and accomplishments at the top and moving your employment history to the bottom.
  2. The imperfection: Your resume is “too short”
    The solution: Again, there is no magic length for any resume. But if you’re a new grad, for example, and don’t have much experience to work with, it can be difficult to fill out a substantial resume. Still, there are ways to focus on and highlight experiences and achievements in the jobs you’ve had. List all your relevant internships, volunteer work, temporary work, and education, focusing on your accomplishments at each location. Be sure to draw specific parallels between your experiences and skills and those required of the job.  This approach also works for those who have significant experience, but only with one company: focusing on each position you’ve had there, as well as promotions and major projects, can help flesh out a resume and give an employer better insight into your history.
  3. The imperfection: Job-hopping
    The solution: Thankfully, job-hopping isn’t nearly as looked down upon in the job market today as it once was; in fact, millennials are now averaging just over two years at each employer. Still, having a jumpy resume can potentially raise some red flags for employers, so you should address this within your resume itself. Include reasons for your job change in parentheses next to each job so employers know the reasons: for example, including “(department was outsourced”) next to the position it applies to in your employment history. This way, an employer knows the reason for the move up-front rather than playing the guessing game.
  4. The imperfection: Not enough experience
    The solution: It’s okay to apply for a job you don’t have quite enough experience for as long as you aren’t completely out of the ballpark. However, if you have 3 years of experience and the position requires 4 or 5, you’ll need to go the extra mile to show why you’d be a good fit. Highlight your education, accomplishments and achievements, and any volunteer work that may apply to the position and show you’re capable of its demands. As always, be sure to draw specific parallels between your qualifications and the position’s requirements.
  5. The imperfection: Gaps in your employment history
    The solution: If you’ve spent six or more months unemployed at any point in your employment history and it shows on your resume, be sure to fill in the gap. Describe what you’ve done in that time to stay relevant and keep your skills sharp by focusing on things like temporary work or independent contracting, continuing education, volunteering, etc. As long as you have something to show for the time you spent between jobs, most employers will be understanding.

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