1. Either you don’t have a résumé summary or the one you have doesn’t say anything.
If your résumé summary is bad, it will be the only thing a potential employer reads. No matter if you are one of 5, 50, or 500 applicants, the person(s) charged with sifting through résumés will be looking for any reason to toss one out.
Having no summary or having a shitty summary are reasons enough.
To counter this, you need a summary that engages the reader, compelling them to read the rest of the content, i.e. the stuff that sets you apart from the rest of the candidate pool.
A compelling summary gives the reader a sense of your professional personality (i.e. not the sophomore-year-of-college-Thirsty-Thursday personality) and the practiced attributes that the potential employer values. For example, if you’re an emotionally-intelligent person, make that clear with a summary that says something like “I am an experienced leader with track record of listening and responding to the needs of team members.” A résumé reader will then be primed to study the rest of the résumé looking for proof that you did this.
A compelling summary must make it clear to the reader why you are a good fit for the job (a quality cover letter –when that option is required or available- should do this too). Every one of the summary’s 4-5 sentences must affirm that after reading the entire résumé you are the only person the potential employer should hire. Read the job call, the required/desired qualifications, and the objectives. Go to the company website and research or call/question that person you met last week who already works there.
Know your shit and weave what you know into your summary. Then revise it three more times.
2. Your résumé is more than one page.
I have talked to professionals of various ranks from multiple industries and continue to hear their affinity for one-page résumés. If I had to guess why, it is mostly due to the time and energy it takes to sift through applicant portfolios and the desire to efficiently manage the time folks put into the hiring process.
There are ways to squeeze the most impressive experiences and credentials into one page.
If you’re that much of a badass, rethink your résumé as the marketing vehicle that will drive interested parties to your LinkedIn page. LinkedIn has become one of the most important components of an experienced professional’s portfolio (if not the most important) and is the platform through which you can expand upon the content that won’t fit on a one-page summary.
If your résumé summary is the hook that draws readers into the rest of your résumé, your résumé (and when applicable, your cover letter) is the hook for your LinkedIn profile, your website, your CV, or your demo reel.
In today’s digital branding environment, your résumé is the amuse-bouche to the thoughtfully-mastered meal that is your professional brand.
3. You sound dumb and it’s not endearing or you sound like a pompous ass and it’s not appealing.
If you have done your research and have been self-reflexive to only apply for a job you might get, you are not going to be the only experienced applicant in the pool. You can separate yourself from the others by putting your audience first and consider what, other than the apt credentials, the person(s) hiring you is looking for.
Things like amicability, intelligence, friendliness, communication competence, and modesty are exhibited through word-choice.
As you are preparing your résumé, write it out then go back and revise with your audience in mind. Select words and phrases that highlight yourself as someone with whom your future employer or coworker will want to have lunch, grab a coffee or beer, or ask to join a bowling league.
You will be able to hammer this home during phone, Skype, or in-person interviews, but laying the foundation in your résumé will only help exhibit your fit within an organization’s culture.
Now, take these tips and go make yourself some money!