One thing I always look for in candidate resumes

Consciously or subconsciously, we are always looking for patterns, for stories we can relate to. This is even true while we read resumes. When considering your application, employers will be looking for the story of your career.

Demonstrating a clear plot can be the key to a winning resume.

When I am evaluating resumes, I always look for that narrative. Even when quickly scanning for key skills, I want to see a chronological path that the candidate’s career has taken. The human brain loves stories.

Recruiters want to see where you worked most recently, where you worked before that, and how your contribution level and job titles have changed between positions. What is the trajectory? Where are you headed?

That is why the vast majority of employers say that they prefer chronological resumes over functional ones. Clear chronology builds credibility. It tells a story that the reader can relate to. It has a plot.

When tailoring your resume for a new job, explain how your career has progressed, leading from one job logically to the next, building towards the job you are applying for.

Show how at each job you have held, you have gained new skills and progressed in your career. The fact that other people are continually entrusting you with increased responsibilities is the most genuine endorsement that you can get.

“I was promoted to manager of ACME, because of the results I delivered in project X.”

“When my temporary contract ended with DEF Co., I was offered a full-time staff position to head up their new division.”

“I took what I had learned from working as a successful sales representative, and I transitioned into fundraising in the not-for-profit sector, because at this point in my career, I want to contribute to a cause that I believe in.”

Nowadays, people change jobs roughly every two years. So ‘job hopping’ isn’t as much of a resume red flag as it used to be. What is important however, is to show that you job hopped strategically. There was a logical reason for career moves. You are building a career and making job changes that allow you to take on increased responsibility, learn new skills, or transition closer to your ultimate goal.

Haphazardly jumping from role to role because you can’t hold onto a job still looks bad to employers. They might think you seem like an unstable employee and a poor choice to hire.

Show your career trajectory in your resume, and be prepared to explain the progression in job interviews too. Employers will want to hear why you left various jobs throughout your career – particularly your most recent one. Therefore, be ready to explain your well-plotted career moves, what you learned from them, and how they lead to the job you are targeting.

When you want to be convincing and memorable, tell someone an authentic, relatable story. Employers may not even realize that’s what they’re looking for in a resume, but the absence of it can be off-putting. A logical career plot that leads right to the job you are applying for will make you a stand out candidate.

That’s one thing I always look for in resumes when I am hiring. When I review resumes for people, here are five things I always cut.

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