I review hundreds of resumes every year, and the most common mistake I find is when the job seeker crafts a resume as if he/she is applying for his/her current job. Usually this means in the Experience section, the bullet points or brief paragraph are focused on the main responsibilities needed for the current job and not necessarily for the future position. Additionally, often there is industry specific terminology/vocabulary throughout the document.
For each job application, an applicant should read through the job posting, research the main responsibilities of the future job, and identify the desired qualifications. Then, he/she should review the resume and ensure those desired skills/experiences are highlighted in the resume. For example, if one is currently a salesperson and is applying for a manager position, the resume should include information about any management skills/experience (in addition to success as a salesperson).
This process is extremely important when switching career fields. Often, the skills sets desired by the new industry are different than the current job. In addition, one must be careful to use vocabulary that is readily understood by the future employer. Case in point, an English teacher is leaving the classroom for a position in a PR firm. The teacher should not focus his/her resume on “teaching”, “grading”, “lesson planning”, “classroom management”, etc. – instead, focus on skills developed while teaching that are desired by the future (PR) field: writing, presentation skills, proofreading, flexibility, handling difficult conversations (parent/teacher conferences!), handling confidential information, etc.
Show the future employer why you are a strong fit for the open job and don’t assume the hiring manager will figure out how your past experience will translate; instead connect the dots by highlighting the relevant skills and experiences on your resume.