Writing a resume can be challenging. It’s often easier to write someone else’s resume than to write your own. Why? Because when you’re looking at it from an outsider’s perspective you can better sense what someone else might be looking for in a candidate and how YOU would review a resume if you were the hiring manager. When we’re writing our own resumes it’s hard to see it through a lens other than our own.
As you’re starting out in your career, it’s reasonable to believe you should include as much information as possible on your resume. This is for two simple reasons: (1) to maximize your experience and skill sets; (2) to minimize the white space which many job applicants fear makes a resume look weak.
However, in a time when HR departments and hiring managers are receiving so many resumes that they’re skimming for key words or using automated text mining software to filter qualified candidates, too much information may actually hurt you.
Additionally, the more information you include, the higher the likelihood for a typo or error. Minimizing resume content, thereby maximizing exposure to the important information – the information your potential employer is looking for – may actually help you!
In a 2010 Business Insider article, Tina Nicolai of Resume Writers Ink said the three biggest mistakes she sees on resumes are sloppiness, including summaries that are too long, and including far too many “buzz words” to impress the reader.
HR Consultant, Tayyiba Iram, wrote in a recent Linkedin article that far too many resumes are still filled with information that is either inaccurate, unnecessary, or untrue!
Here is a list of many of the items Iram suggests you remove from your resume, and a couple that I’ve added for good measure:
- Irrelevant work experience– If you’re applying for a job as a web developer, you don’t need to include your experience as a legal assistant unless it included web development.
- Personal details about yourself– So you’re married with two kids. That’s great! But what does that have to do with the job for which you’re applying?
- More than one phone number– Why do you need more than one?
- Irrelevant coursework– High school algebra probably isn’t going to get you many interviews.
- Jobs from your youth– Unless relevant to your search for a job at a newspaper, most hiring managers won’t care you delivered papers when you were 10.
- Your hobbies– Glad you like collecting rocks. Next!
- Too much text– You lost me at “hello”.
- Too many bullet points– After a while, the reader’s eyes get sore looking at them.
- Time off to travel– Your spring break trip to The Bahamas was interesting. [yawn]
- Things that give away your age– You never know if a hiring manager is looking for someone older or younger than you, so why self-eliminate?
- References– Save that space for something relevant to the job.
- Inconsistent formatting– See “sloppy”. Doesn’t reflect well on your attention to detail.
- Improper tense– Again, see “sloppy”. Don’t use “I am” in one sentence and “I was” in another.
- Inappropriate email addresses– I know it was funny while you were in school, but using “Iamabadass@yahoo.com” on your resume probably won’t look very professional when applying for a job.
- Blatant lies– If I have to explain this to you, stop reading.
While there are other suggestions on Iram’s list that are worth considering, there are also a few I don’t fully agree with such as not including tables or charts on your resume. I understand the challenges this can potentially create with automated formatting, but I think telling your successful P & L story in the form of a graph can have great impact.
Generally speaking I think her recommendations are on the mark. You just have to keep in mind that every situation is unique. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a travel writer, then including information on your travel history may not only be relevant, but also important.
The basic recommendation I’m making is to look at your resume very strategically and understand the process employers utilize when reviewing CV’s for potential candidates. More is not always better. Sometimes the KISS method is the appropriate approach when looking for a job.