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These Skills In Your Resume Are Why You Weren't Hired

02/07/2017 07:35 EST | Updated 02/07/2017 07:35 EST
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When you're looking for a job, the more skills you have, the better, right? If you pack your resume with everything you've learned and all the things you can do, you'll appeal to that many more employers and turn up in more all-important keyword searches. That's the theory that many job seekers have, but it's wrong.

Your resume is a marketing document. It must sell your candidacy as the best contender for a specific role. Anything that does not contribute to that goal is just taking up space: not just irrelevant, but outright harmful.

There are a few reasons why your skills are hurting your resume.

First off there are those skills that can make you look outdated and could give the impression that you haven't kept up with the times. In some cases, it's because the software or technology has become obsolete (MS-DOS, fax machines, Lotus.)

In other cases, it's just that the tools have become so commonly used that they should (quite literally) go without saying in a resume.

For example, of course people still use Microsoft Office and word processing, but since everyone is expected to know them, listing these on your resume for any job involving technology above an entry-level position, just looks like filler. It's assumed that if you are working in the digital space you know how to create, share, and organize documents, spreadsheets, and files.

(Note: If you are writing your first resume, and have limited work experience, then by all means, highlight your Office application and software skills. These are used in many, many roles.)

So listing the skills that should be table stakes as if they are among your top credentials can also make you look more junior than you actually might be. It can reduce the starting salary you're offered.

Similarly, 'telephone skills', 'data entry' and 'typing' aren't considered skills anymore. In 2017 everyone should be able to use a phone, input data, and type. Don't list 'email' as a skill on your resume.

Another reason your skills could be hurting your resume is when they are simply not relevant to the job.

job resume

(Photo: Gettystock)

Have you heard the phrase, "less is more?" A resume is one of the times when this is actually true. I'm not one of those people who insists that a resume fit on one or even two pages. If you have three pages full of relevant skills, experience, and accomplishments, then by all means showcase them. But what you don't want to do is have a long resume listing everything you've learned and done when much of it doesn't apply to the job you're after.

The irrelevant stuff will just water down your candidacy and make you appear less, rather than more, qualified. For example, if you have excellent programming skills, but you're applying for a copywriting job, your ability to code doesn't help you land the writing gig. It also makes it look like you may not be serious about being a copywriter since you've clearly put in the time and effort to learn programming.

So while coding may come in handy in many online jobs -- and the employer may be lucky to gain those bonus skills by hiring you - highlighting them in your resume diminishes your chances of being hired. Employers don't want to hire someone who can do the job -- but will probably leave it as soon as something that's a better fit with their actual career aspirations comes along.

Put yourself in the hiring manager's shoes. They are going to look at many, many resumes for the position they're recruiting for. The candidates who stand out from that crowd will be the ones who have the most relevant, up-to-date skills and credentials for their job listed first and foremost - without being camouflaged by a lot of outdated or irrelevant information.

The key to getting hired is not to stuff your resume so that you could possibly fit with more jobs, it's narrowing it down so that you are the best possible fit with one specific job -- the one you're applying for. That's how you stand out in the mass-apply Internet era of job hunting.

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