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The Single Biggest Mistake You Can Make on Your Resume - Cupcakes & Cashmere

The Single Biggest Mistake You Can Make on Your Resume

No, we're not talking about typos.
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Resumes. Some folks will tell you they are unnecessary today. Other folks will tell you they are vital to your success and to never forget to add a professional summary at the top. As a previous recruiter and now the CEO of a career site for women, Career Contessa, I’m here to finally set the record straight and give you the single best piece of resume advice, starting with some resume myths I want to set straight first.

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Truth: Paper resume are absolutely not dead. You will need to have both a paper copy and a digital copy with you when you apply for almost any job. The digital copy so you can most likely apply through the online portal, and a paper copy to bring to your in-person interview.

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Truth: This is true and false. As a recruiter, I loved to see resumes that had minimal design and weren’t too colorful. However, I love when candidates get creative with the layout, font, and sections they include. For example, a 2-column resume in a non-boring font allows me to quickly scan your information and pick out the most relevant experience. I’m obsessed with resume templates so much I made my own.

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Truth: While this might have been true at one time, it’s not anymore. Don’t waste space on your resume with your objective. If you want to tell us more about you, write a really great (read: interesting) cover letter that tells your story. More hiring managers and companies are asking for those today.

So now that I’ve debunked some common resume myths, I think you’re read for me to drop my truth bomb: keywords. Keywords are key (pun intended!) for making your resume stand out to the online job application software, recruiter, and hiring managers.

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Keywords are specific words or phrases that are included in the job description that you can add directly to your resume to describe your experience. For example, if you look at the job description for a social media intern at Career Contessa, we directly ask for someone who has “familiarity or willingness to learn Twitter, Facebook Pages, Pinterest, Tailwind, Google Docs—and is generally Internet-savvy.”

The keywords here are Twitter, Facebook Pages, Pinterest, Tailwind, Google docs. So if you’re applying for a role at Career Contessa and you have a past job that include social media work you might change “managed social media platforms” to “managed company Facebook page to using Facebook Page Manager and analytics tools.” If you need help understanding how to read a job posting better, here’s a free worksheet with step-by-step instructions, too.

Another example is around communication. Most job descriptions will ask for someone to have “great verbal and written communication skills” so, you might change a bullet point under a job that’s trying to highlight this skills to something more specific and with more keywords. You might say “Proofread marketing pitch decks for sales team to ensure communication was clear and error-free.” You can see that my example is showing what you did with your communication skills, who you helped, and why it mattered.

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Now I want you to go through your resume and compare each of your bullet points under your job title to the job description you want to apply to. What words or phrases did the company mention in the job posting that you can integrate into your resume? Another pro tip is to look at the job description for 3 to 4 similar postings. You’ll find common words, phrases, and software skills among them that you can add.

Let me know what you think about this tip! Have you heard about keywords before? Do you think this will help with your job search?