25 Reasons Your Resume Misses the Mark


Whether you spent hours creating and refining your career resume, hired someone to create it or threw it together in a hurry, the resume is an important part of your military-to-civilian career transition.

So why isn't yours getting noticed? Let's look at the top reasons employers aren't WOW'd by your resume:

Related: Does your resume pass the 6-second test? Get a FREE assessment.

  1. Typos. Misspellings and mistakes in a resume are quick turn-offs for a reader. "If they can be sloppy with something as important as a resume, how will they treat my project?" is a common concern of recruiters. Proofread and double-check every aspect of your resume before you send it or post it anywhere.
  2. Not enough metrics. List out results and quantify the benefits. Whenever possible, reflect results in numbers and percentages. If you fail to quantify the benefits, it could appear that your results are not measurable or impactful to the business or organization.
  3. Too long. Is there an ideal length for a resume? "A good rule of thumb is one page of resume for every 10 years of work experience," notes one expert. A three or four-page resume is too hard to read, let alone comprehend.
  4. Too much military-speak. If your resume reads like a list of military operational specialties (MOS), it likely won't pass the screening stage. Remember to speak in the language of your target employer.
  5. Poor grammar. In addition to misspellings, check your grammar. Use correct punctuation, tense and sentence structure. Assume your reader is a grammar expert.
  6. Inaccuracies. If the dates in your work history don't line up, or you claim to have participated in a program that didn't exist at the time, or you list a hobby that you can't talk about, you'll put up red flags to the reader.
  7. Inconsistencies. Your resume should be written in the first person and should stay that way throughout. If you bullet-list results, do so across each job. If you format each job with the city and state, make sure they all read the same way. Small details really matter.
  8. Poor formatting. To the recruiter or hiring manager charged with reading hundreds of resumes, it can be challenging to read long blocks of text with poor formatting. Avoid making the margins tiny (strive for a half-inch), use bulleted lists to break up text and "chunk" content into readable sections.
  9. No focus. Be clear on what you want the reader to know, feel and do with the resume you are sending them.
  10. Uninspiring. Who wants to read a resume that reads like a list of tasks, not a story of someone's career? Make your past indicative of what you can do in the future.
  11. Irrelevant information. Avoid including details that aren't relevant to the job, don't help tell your story or make you approachable. Be sure to leave some information for the interview.
  12. Too many filler words. Avoid words that take up space but don't add anything substantive. Words like "in other words," "to be honest" and "basically" can be left out, and the material should still stand up.
  13. Lies. Never, ever lie on a resume. Even "creative exaggerations" discredit job candidates and waste the reader's time.
  14. Trying too hard. If you aren't funny, don't use humor. If you aren't clever, don't try. Your story can be interesting and inspiring while not being fake or forced.
  15. Talking negatively. Your resume should not include anything negative or unflattering about your past employer, team, clients, customers or colleagues. Ever. It's not polite or professional.
  16. Boasting. While it's critical to promote yourself and your value, be careful about crossing over the line. Claiming to be "the world's greatest logistician" is arrogant.
  17. Too many buzzwords. Overuse of common words, such as "analytic, proven, leader, driven, innovative, problem solver and team player," can turn off the reader.
  18. Words that are "givens." If your resume emphasizes that you are hard-working, dedicated and loyal, remember that these qualities are expected, not extraordinary. Focus your resume on what makes you stand out.
  19. Personal information. Don't mention PTSD struggles, your marital status, current living situation (are you living with Mom and Dad?), and anything else the employer cannot legally inquire about.
  20. Missing information. Be sure to include your contact information, education and full name (or nickname) on your resume. It's amazing how many candidates leave off critical information.
  21. Employment gaps. Gaps in your work history that aren't addressed or explained can send a red flag. Address gaps in your cover letter.
  22. Not following submission directions. This is an easy one. Submit your resume exactly as you were asked to. This is not the time to be creative or defiant.
  23. Forgetting keywords. Each resume you submit should be customized to the job and employer. Use the keywords, terminology and lingo of the industry and the job.
  24. Neglecting to focus on value. Your resume shouldn't just reflect the tasks you completed, but the value you drove to your previous team, business and mission.
  25. You don't care. If you really aren't interested in the job, it shows in the resume you submit. Instead, apply for positions that align with your personal and professional goals. You'll put more work, care and attention into the submission.

Related: For the latest veteran jobs postings around the country, visit the Military.com Job Search section.

Lida Citroën is an international reputation management and branding specialist and CEO of LIDA360. Lida serves her corporate clients with personal branding, reputation management, online positioning and reputation repair strategies and implementation programs. Lida is passionate about helping our nation's veterans navigate the military-to-civilian career transition and is a popular speaker at military installations and events on veteran hiring. Her best-selling book, "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition," offers veterans the tools to successfully move to meaningful civilian careers.

Lida also leverages her 20+ years in corporate branding to help private employers recruit, onboard and grow veteran employees. Her book, "Engaging with Veteran Talent: A quick and practical guide to sourcing, hiring, onboarding and developing Veteran employees," provides companies seeking to start or build on their veteran hiring initiatives with the tools and insights to be successful.

Lida is a regular contributor for Military.com and Entrepreneur.com and is the recipient of numerous awards for her service to our veterans.

The Next Step: Get Your Resume Out There

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