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Hiding Résumé Flaws

By Jennifer Anthony, ResumeASAP

If you're job hunting, the last thing you need is weakness in your résumé. Any bit of negative information can keep you from landing your ideal job. Issues such as lack of a college degree or minimal job experience don't have to hinder your efforts. All you need to do is work a little résumé magic.

Here are some tips to help you create a winning résumé.

Format is Everything

So, you've been unemployed for the past seven months. The last thing you want to do is draw attention to those dates. Instead, focus your résumé to highlight your abilities. By listing your skills over your experience, you're highlighting those areas that are most important.

There are basically three types of résumé formats: chronological, functional and combination. When trying to hide your flaws, avoid the traditionally used chronological format that is organized by your employment history. This format will draw attention to negative aspects such as employment gaps or limited work history.

There are two formats that will conceal résumé weaknesses well: functional and combination.

A functional résumé lists skills categories and accomplishments over dates. Instead of listing job experience, the résumé would present categories relating to skills. For instance, if you are a medical transcriptionist, you could list "Transcription" as one of the categories and detail your words per minute and your accuracy record. You might also list your computer skills and software proficiency. While this style works well to hide weaknesses, employers typically get frustrated while reading them because they can’t figure out where or how you gained your experience and abilities.

The best alternative is the combination résumé, which is a style I use quite often. It merges the chronological and functional résumé styles by presenting your knowledge and abilities gained from work experience in reverse chronological order. The benefit to this format is that it still looks familiar to the chronological style that most employers are accustomed to reading while emphasizing your applicable skills.

How to Stand Out from the Crowd

What makes you unique? If you're talented in unexpected areas, bring these to light on your résumé. Whether you spent years as a file clerk, or flipped burgers, you still have skills. Highlight these. How did you contribute at past places of employment? Detail your achievements and honors.

Do you speak another language? Can you troubleshoot a faulty computer? Do you have the ability to soothe ruffled feathers? These are all assets and should be listed as such. If you love to spend hours surfing the Net, detail your research skills. If you enjoy a good conversation, talk up your people skills. Surely, there are plenty of ways to set you apart from the competition.

If you just graduated from school or don't have much in the way of employment experience, fear not -- you still have skills. At which courses did you excel? What papers received high marks? Did you win the high school science fair? These are all worthwhile résumé contributions.

If you want to be called in for an interview, your résumé has to stand out. Even if you don't have as much experience as your peers, or a mottled work history, you can still make this happen!

Jennifer Anthony is the Director of ResumeASAP, offering professional and affordable résumé writing services. If you have comments about this article, or if you are interested in learning more about professional résumé writing, please contact Jennifer Anthony by e-mail at


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