Resume Mistakes to Avoid
When looking for a new position, don’t make the mistake of assuming your resume is meant to be for you – it’s for the people who might hire you.
Life isn’t always easy. No matter what your childhood was like, the fact is at some point you’re an adult and on your own and responsible for your own decisions, successes – and failures.
This is never more obvious than when it comes to carving out a career for yourself. Deciding what you want to do to earn your living is one thing, but it’s just the first and smallest step. Next comes getting the jobs you want, and that’s the same whether you work in the translation services industry or someplace else. It means making a killer resume and hitting the bricks to interview for jobs.
I’ve had the opportunity to help a lot of people, both peers and people I’ve tried to mentor, find new jobs both inside and outside the language translation world, and there’s one mistake almost everyone makes when it comes to their resumes: They view their resumes as objective records of their careers instead of what they really are, which is marketing.
The Product is You
Resumes do need to be accurate and truthful, of course. You can’t claim skills you don’t actually have, and you can’t invent experience. When I say that your resume is marketing, what I mean is that you have to treat it as a creative and engaging advertisement for a product – you. Think of it terms of sales: Your potential future employer has a problem, and you’re there to help them solve it. That means that your resume has to be a lot more than just a collection of bullet points summarising your experience and education – it has to be tailored for the job, and the company.
The right approach is to create a bespoke resume for each position you apply for. Having some generic resumes in your pocket for chance encounters or opportunities is fine, of course – and advisable – but when you’re actively going after a position, research the job, the company, and even the hiring folks if possible, and create your resume from scratch with all that information in mind.
Imagine you’re selling yourself for the job in one minute. What would your presentation be? What’s your audience? Will they appreciate humour? Will they care about your education and certifications, or will they only care about actual achievements?
Don’t write from your own perspective. Your “objective” shouldn’t be about what you want – the company likely doesn’t care about that. Write your objective instead so that it addresses what the company wants. If they’re looking for a proactive manager, talk about wanting responsibility and decision-making power and ownership. If they want a creative sort, write about wanting the freedom to come up with new ideas.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your resume is for you – it’s not. It’s for the people deciding whether or not to hire you. Once you understand that, it gets easier!