When you send out your resume, do you hear the sickly sound of groans far off in the distance? When you call or stop by to follow up on your job application, do employers scream and run in the other direction?
If these things happen to you, then you may have a “zombie resume.” Zombie resumes often include one or more of the following characteristics:
- Ghoulish work experience – the candidate has had two, three or four jobs in the past 12 months. Whether there are good reasons for these changes, this uneven pattern of work experience is frightening to employers. Any employer will be thinking, “Noooo! Will this haunted pattern ever end? Will it infest my company?”
- Cavernous gaps in work history – one-year or two-year work gaps leave an employer thinking, “This candidate has something to hide!!” Is it a spate of unemployment, an alternative career track, a criminal record, major personal issues or who knows? Employers would prefer some explanation, which can easily be included in a simple line on your resume explaining the time period in question. Everyone is trying to hire good, honest people and most people acknowledge that few people have a totally pristine work history. Don’t be mysterious and creepy! Be upfront and honest. It will save tons of time and maybe get you an in with an employer that appreciates honesty.
- Baaad Inglishh – it’s not that hard to have your resume reviewed by someone that can write. Frightful writing appears on many resumes and always a sign that the candidate does not care a lick about their job search. These errors include everything from sloppiness and typos to forgotten jobs. If you want to stand out and get a better job then the next ghoul or gal, have a friend or neighbor review your resume.
- Rotting cheese – many resumes come with a large dose of cheese: flashy colors, big fancy awkward photographs, giant fonts. Some degree of clever design is not necessarily bad, but it is accepted wisdom that tons of window dressing is usually there because something is lacking and the person is trying to cover it up. These resumes create immediate suspicion on the part of the potential employer. Beware!
Resurrect your resume from the “Land of Dead” by avoiding the problems listed above.
Why make the effort? We are living (or perhaps not living) in a low unemployment environment where jobs are everywhere, but good jobs are few and far between. These good jobs (the ones you want – i.e. high pay, good benefits, a career track, good management, and living co-workers) are hard to get. Unfortunately, a zombie resume is going to stop you 100% of the time from getting one of these jobs.
The hardest one to fix is obviously the issue of ghoulish work experience, because it has more to do with your work history than your resume. If you have a creepy work history full of job hopping, take these steps:
- Stop the hop – take your time to find a job that fits who you are, what you can do and how you want to spend your time. We encounter applicants who are often more obsessed with finding a job today than finding a job they are likely to remain in tomorrow. Slow down and put some time into finding a job that will allow you to stay put and bring some life back to your work history
- Come up with a good explanation – again, take the time to think about why you have been staggering around from job to job. Did you have some personal issue at the time? A move? An ill parent or child? Were you undead? Were you being chased by zombie hunters? Know your story and be able to explain what happened and why things are about to change for the better.
- Condense your work experience in your resume – take your five jobs from last year and compress them into one job through a single staffing company (i.e. Flesh-Eating Staffing Solutions) or within a single category of employer (Wooden Stake Production Associate). Within the section, you could list multiple employers and dates or leave them out. Remember: be upfront, be clear, don’t hide stuff (like the fact that you are living dead) that will come out immediately in the interview.
As recruiters, there is nothing more frightening than the drooling, moaning delivery of a “zombie resume” in our inbox. The scariest part is that it doesn’t have to be that way! In almost all cases, the zombie resume could easily be improved and create an employment opportunity for the candidate, not a shrieking, screaming door slamming episode.
Happy Halloween and Good Luck With Your Job Hunt!
Adam Himoff is President of Xemplar, an innovative recruiting and workforce solutions company that enables U.S. clients to beat the ‘skilled labor shortage’ and reliably source the high-value, high-skill employees they need to thrive. To learn more about Xemplar visit our website at www.xemplar.com.