If you look up the word generic in a thesaurus you’ll find such synonyms as general, common, basic, nonspecific, ordinary, regular, and mediocre. Not exactly the descriptors you would want used to describe your resume, right? Wouldn’t you rather have a resume that is described as exceptional, extraordinary, distinctive or memorable? I know I would! There are some things you can do to ensure that your resume is viewed as the exact opposite of generic.
Watch your word choice. It is all too common to see words such as: experienced, responsible, team player, hard working, effective, creative, problem solver, determined, motivated, good communicator. Blah, boring, snooze! These words are overused, vague, and have been drained of all value. Using them immediately qualifies your resume to the generic category. Instead try to use keywords that make your resume stand out.
Instead of saying: Member of team responsible for new sales program, try: Key collaborator on sales program rejuvenation.
Not being specific enough on your resume is another contributing factor to a generic resume. When at all possible give the specifics. Hiring managers respond to numbers; they don’t want to just read that you secured a significant cost savings; they want to know how much. If you have the amount or percentage you should be using them!
Instead of saying: Increased sales as member of team responsible for new sales program, try: Enhanced sales $400,000 as a key collaborator on sales rejuvenation program.
Using keywords specific to the position is a must. If the position has a job description, read through it, take the keywords you find and transplant them into your resume. Don’t just assume that your sales resume will be able to be used for every sales position you apply for. Take the time to customize it to each position. If they want a marketing guru then don’t describe yourself as a marketing star.
A surefire way to get your resume branded as generic is to use an objective statement. No matter how many times I advise that objectives are outdated and useless to today’s resume I continue to see resumes that start out with a dreary, selfish objective statement. Obviously the overall objective of your resume is to get a job; there is no need to state the obvious with an objective statement. Kind of like this other no-brainer that I see on resumes all the time: phone number: (123) 456-7890. You really don’t need to label it as your phone number, I’m pretty sure everyone will know what it is.
Using Times New Roman as your text can also contribute to that same old, same old feeling. Everyone uses it. A subtle change to your resume font can be achieved using perpetua, book antique, constantia or another similar, easy to read font. It’s not a big, obvious difference but one that can help spice up your resume.
The same can be said for trying a new format. Using something a bit different can lend an understated “look at me quality” that will help your resume stand out. Workbloom.com has a lot of great samples and formats for transforming your resume. Along with these tips you will be able to create a resume that is anything but generic.
by Megan Koehler