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Is your resume selling you short?

By October 21, 2015November 15th, 2019Blog
resume selling you short

Is your resume selling you short?

Every single one of my resume program clients have one thing in common. Their resume is selling them short.

I think it is partly a cultural thing. Australians are taught from an early age not to talk themselves up. Don’t big note yourself, especially in public. Anyone who stands up and says ‘hey, look at me!’ gets a dose of tall poppy syndrome heading their way.

This is a big problem when it comes time to write your resume. At its core, your resume is a marketing document. The whole point is to sell yourself to a potential employer.  Candidates get so worried that they are sound like they are bragging that they water down what they have done.  They highlight how they are the same as everyone else and the result is they don’t stand out.

The main sections where candidates undersell themselves are:

Skills and knowledge

You need to point out the skills and knowledge that you bring to the table. Don’t assume that the reader will look at a small summary of your experience (assuming they read it all in detail on the first scan) and work out what you have to offer.  You need to catch their attention with a summary of the skills and knowledge that will appeal to them so they will want to keep reading.


Of course you need to tell people what you did, particularly for your most recent roles. Some people spend way too many words listing tasks one by one that are very obvious. For example, if you are a receptionist, you don’t need to have a list such as:

  • Answered phones
  • Took messages
  • Greeted visitors
  • Opened mail
  • Distributed mail

Etc, etc. Are you asleep yet? I am. This is what every receptionist would do. These can be summed up in one line that reads:

  • As the face of the business, I am the first point of contact for clients, suppliers and visitors, screening calls and providing additional administrative support such as ordering stationary and distributing mail.

Concentrate on broad responsibilities that demonstrate your diverse skills and differentiate you from other applicants.  In the case of the receptionist, this may be organising events or managing social media.


Responsibilities tell the reader what you were paid to do. Achievements highlight what you actually did and are a perfect way to sell yourself over other applicants. Did you come up with an idea that saved the company time or money? Did you smash your sales target? Did you get a customer service award? What did you implement or design that will stand you apart from other applicants?

What else makes you special?

You are unique and your uniqueness can set you apart. Volunteer work, community involvement, publishing a blog or articles in your area of expertise or personal interests.  All of these areas offer you a chance to get the attention of the reader. They also provide an opportunity to highlight unique skills that you have gained from what you do outside of work.

There are so many places candidates sell themselves short in a resume.  This is your one shot to make a first impression that will make the reader want to meet you so don’t waste your chance because you are worried that you will sound like you are bragging.  Be confident in your abilities and make sure that anyone reads it gets the best picture of you.


Carli Saw

Author Carli Saw

Carli is a Human Resources professional with more than 20 years of experience across a range of industries and a passion for supporting small business.

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