The crowd was great at the most recent Cleared Job Fair Resume Reviews. Patient, positive, networking while waiting. And most even followed the written instructions. So I saw a lot of resumes full of editing done while waiting. All good.

But the most common problems remain just that.

#1: A resume full of job descriptions but few or no achievements.

Hiring managers do not care what you were supposed to do. What they want to see is a record of achievements that are relevant to the work they need done.

So think of your successes and create bullet points that show the Situation or Task, your Actions, and the Results (STAR.) Use your past achievements that specifically relate to the job you want, the future you dream of. Even in jobs that were not obviously relevant, you have achievements that are related to the needs of the positions you seek.

#2: Over 20 years experience…

Mentioning total years of experience is worthless. It can make you seem too expensive or play into aging stereotypes. But it really doesn’t add anything valuable. Hiring managers are interested in your actual track record – what you have achieved, what growth in responsibilities and knowledge you have. Demonstrate those. Some smaller government contractors like years of experience with a specific technology or role since that makes it easier for them to screen resumes. But total years, you lose.

#3: Lack of focus

Companies are flooded with resumes. The government contracting and security cleared worlds are no exception. If you want your resume to be the one that makes it to a hiring manager’s screen, you need to understand that your resume is an advertisement designed to sell you. It is not a biography!

6 steps to a better resume

  1. Pick the job you want and the target employer.
  2. Choose the best matching information from your big master resume file for that specific job.
  3. Use the keywords for your field, the job, and the company.
  4. Show your most recent job’s achievements in more detail than older ones and dump everything more than 10-15 years ago.
  5. Omit everything that is not directly relevant to the job you want. Be ruthless!
  6. Make it easy to read: limit formatting, lots of white space, 10-12 point type.

Give the hiring manager and recruiter your BEST!

Next job fair you can give me a chance to say “This is terrific, I can only suggest a minor change at most.” I love those candidates!

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