Resume Killers

Liz Ryan is one of three HR writers I follow on Twitter, and I agree with all of her picks for “Ten Phrases That Are Killing Your Resume” on Forbes.com. Here is another resume formulation I’d like to see less often:

  • “Seeking to advance my career”

Not that I begrudge anyone the opportunity to advance, but that’s not why I need to hire someone. I need to hire someone because I have an unmet need in my organization. Candidates who demonstrate awareness of that fact and pitch themselves accordingly warm the cockles of my bureaucratic heart.

My pet peeve as a federal hiring manager is when I can’t figure out from a narrative descriptions of position duties what someone actually did at a job or how they demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities* I’m looking for. Five thousand characters gives you enough space to simply say what the job was and how you did it before you start plugging in all the key words and phrases from the job announcement text to satisfy the Hiring Manager Algorithm.

For federal employees, I recommend keeping a human-language version of your resume on hand. It will give you something to share when a prospective boss or mentor wants to see your CV. It also helps in customizing your USAJOBS resume(s) when you’re applying for positions.**

*Yeah sure, they say they got rid of KSAs on federal job applications. What they really did was eliminate the KSA essay you had to include along with your resume on each job application. So instead of having a resume you could use for multiple job applications …

**Now you have to weave the KSA language from the job announcement into the narrative for “position duties” for each job on your resume. In other words, you have to customize a resume for each and every job application. Thanks, OPM!

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