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Resume Killers (especially when you return to work)

While both men and women typically enjoy writing and updating their resume almost as much as they enjoy cleaning a bathroom, this activity is particularly difficult for women. In general, women tend to focus more on group achievement rather than personal and are reluctant to self-promote.

If you have read Lean In, you may remember that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. (To read more about this, go to Harvard Business Review.)

The purpose of a resume is to “sell” yourself to prospective companies so that they are interested in calling you for an interview. It’s how (along with your cover letter) you get your foot in the door.

So, if women don’t like to promote themselves, writing a resume can be REALLY tough. Your reluctance to “toot your own horn” will result in:

  • Long, wordy descriptions that almost, but not quite, say “I did this.”
  • Forgetting to list accomplishments and awards, or placing them at the very end of the resume, almost as an afterthought.
  • Key words that are almost assertive (“responsible for” rather than “increased by”)
  • Using qualifiers rather than quantifiers. For example, “improved stock tracking system” versus “decrease order errors by 21%.”

If changing your resume feels a bit like bragging, here are some suggestions:

  • Ask a friend, who is not afraid to be honest, to make suggestions.
  • A member of your team at work will be able to give you suggestions based on your actual work performance.
  • A previous supervisor can help you frame your skills more concisely.
  • Connect with another female professional whose work you respect.
  • Ask a male friend to offer ideas, especially one who has business leadership skills.
  • Work with a resume consultant (hint,hint).

Increase your chances of catching the interest of a hiring manager with just a few strategic tweaks to your resume.

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