Resumes and Cover Letters

Is My Resume Sending Mixed Signals to Employers? 3 Signs to Look For

resume sending mixed signals | resume mixed signal

I know how incredibly frustrating it can be to feel like your resume is INVISIBLE.

You worked so hard getting it into passable shape, you spent so long uploading it or crafting the perfect accompanying email to a hiring manager…and nothing. No word. No contact. And when this keeps happening, is it any wonder that you start doubting yourself and your self-worth?

I challenge you to look at the problem in a different way. Don’t ask yourself what’s wrong with your resume. Instead, look at the document from the POV of an employer, someone who has PAIN that needs to be urgently addressed and is hoping you’re the one to do it, and ask yourself: what kind of a MESSAGE is being communicated here? Is it clear and focused on ADDRESSING my pain? Or is it sending mixed signals?

3 common Signs that Your Resume is Sending Mixed Signals

Resume Mixed Signal #1:  The “Title/POV” Mismatch

As tempting as it may be to just tack on your most recent job to your existing resume and call it a day, at a certain point you have to rebuild from scratch. The POV of a great Chief Information Officer is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from that of a Director of IT, and requires looking at, and communicating your history in a very different way. What are the strategic priorities of the kind of role you’re interested in landing now? What’s the SCOPE of what will be required of you? Go through relevant job postings and pull up the profiles of people on LinkedIn who currently have these roles for intelligence on these fronts. Now start your resume with a few powerful bullet points which highlight your abilities in this way, and keep RETURNING to these core ideas in different ways within your Professional Experience. So in other words, every major role you highlight should begin with how you moved the needle in these areas, and ideally the accomplishments you share should align with them as well. This is CONSISTENCY between Title and POV within the resume, and the higher the level of role you’re currently after, the more seamless it needs to be.

I recently presented a webinar for Ivy Exec on the New Rules of the Job Search that provides more insight on the Resume front. You can watch it HERE.

Also read: Why am I Being Approached for the Wrong Type of Jobs? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Resume Mixed Signal #2: The “Young Old Guy” Mismatch.

Ageism is a tricky beast, because the answer IS NOT to try and come across as a younger candidate! It’s a futile effort, and will inevitably backfire, but people keep trying it anyway. You’ll see this kind of mismatch often on resumes-  for example, in someone who clearly has an extensive work history but refuses to share anything more than the past 10 years of jobs. I’ve even seen jobseekers insert pictures of themselves into the resume because they “look young” or add sections in the resume detailing all of the different forms of sports and exercising they’re into.

Please don’t do any of this.

Instead, I want you to OWN your history, and realize that the greatest defense against ageism you have is to come across in a way that completely SHUTS DOWN comparison. No one else brings what you bring to the table, and that perspective, passion, and skillset would be impossible to get in any other way than in the way you did. Which means you highlight and use EVERY job at your disposal to brand yourself at this level, regardless of how old it is. You BOLDLY communicate a POV that runs counter to established thinking with  your niche. And you actively DIRECT hiring conversations to a place where you’re presenting solutions, not defending yourself against younger candidates or a job posting. If you’ve done all of this and still meet ageism-related questions from an employer, bail on the discussion because they’re a terrible employer.

Also read: Stop Deleting Old Resume Positions, Here are 3 Better Ways to Go

Resume Mixed Signal #3: The “Excessive Honesty Backfire”

Remember: the resume is, at heart, a MARKETING document, not a legal one. No one is expecting you to start confessing sins made on the job, or explaining why you left one. In fact, in many cases this will simply raise more questions, and make it seem like there’s something “off” going on. Look, being straightforward and honest is a good thing, but if you showed up at a car dealership and the salesman started confessing that he has trouble paying the bills and got laid off at his last role, it wouldn’t exactly endear you towards closing the deal, would it?

Go through your resume and strike out any information like this. Make sure that it reads as bulletproof as possible before sending it out.

About the Author

Anish Majumdar is a nationally recognized Career Coach, Personal Branding Expert, and a fierce advocate for transitioning leaders. His posts and videos on disrupting the "normal rules" of job searching and getting ahead reach a combined audience of 30M professionals every month. Go down the rabbit hole of Anish’s career videos at, and connect with him on LinkedIn to receive daily career tips and advice.