Solutions to Common Resume Problems

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Some resume problems may seem insurmountable at first, or may seem impossible to overcome without the help of a professional resume editor. But if you take a deep breath and a closer look, some of these problems may be easy to sort out with a few simple word changes or formatting revisions. Here are a few common resume challenges that aren’t as intimidating as they sometimes seem.

Problem #1: Too Much Information

How can you fit every one of your proudest accomplishments and previous positions into a one page document? 

The Solution

You can’t. And you don’t have to. Choose the most important and most relevant details of your career history, and employers will usually be able to fill in the blanks on their own. For example, if you won an international grant for your protein synthesis research, you don’t have to list every entry-level position you held as you worked your way up in the protein synthesis field. Some accomplishments can be used to speak for the others.

Problem #2: Not Enough Information

How can you frame a long career history that includes only a short list of positions? 

The Solution

If you’ve only held two positions during your 20-year career, and both of them were with the same company, don’t despair over the fact that your resume covers only half a page. Instead, break these two positions down into components and list the most important accomplishments and responsibilities you held for each of them. Meanwhile, find a way to frame your loyalty and reliability as an asset. 

Problem #3: Boring Job Titles

Explaining the challenges of a difficult position with a bland-sounding title. 

The Solution

“Retail Expert,” “Project Manager,” “Production Specialist,” and “Sales Associate” are all titles that could suggest low-responsibility jobs OR extremely challenging positions with high stress, high stakes, and years of complex training. We’re measured by the obstacles we successfully overcome, but also by the height of these obstacles in the first place. If your experience, awards, and training have been more rigorous than they sound, use numbers and timelines to make this clear.

Problem #4: Burned Bridges

You’ve been fired, and you have no idea how to hide this fact from employers. 

The Solution

Don’t hide it! If you’ve been fired from a position, if you left an employer on bad terms, or if you left a job after a project failure or performance problem, there’s no reason to leave this experience off your resume. List this position like any other—just don’t use this employer as a reference. And if asked, be ready to frame the experience in a positive way during your interview.

Problem #5: Timeline Gaps

The work experience section of your resume has some pretty lengthy gaps in-between each position.

The Solution

Don’t try to hide these. Everyone has them and most of the time, they reflect a complex life full of risks and real experiences (both of which are valued by intelligent, responsible employers.) If you were sidelined for a few years due to a layoff, a return to school, or a parenting gap, don’t worry about this and don’t fudge your employment dates in order to spin the truth. Just be ready to explain what you were doing during this chapter, what you learned, and how you stayed in touch with changes in your industry. 

Use Your Resume to Open Doors

If your resume is netting a few interview invitations every week, you’re doing something right. But if you’re submitting countless applications and receiving only silence in return, you may be sending out the wrong message. Visit LiveCareer for formatting tools and editing resources that help you identify the problem and fix it as quickly as quickly as possible. 

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