One area of job searching that confuses plenty of job seekers is what to include on a resume. After all, your resume is a representation of “you” on paper. Include too much information, and you’ll lose recruiters in unimportant details. But, with too little information, recruiters won’t be sure you’re qualified for the next step in the process any may not contact you for in interview.
Since most job seekers have excessive information on their resume and don’t know what to eliminate, let’s start with four things you can always leave off of it. These tips will help you better organize your information, and present it in a format that is easy-to-read and quickly understandable for recruiters.
- An "objective.” This is the statement at the top of a resume that tells an employer what you're looking for -- but it’s got to go. They already know you're interested in their job, so it's unnecessary. Instead, use a "summary of qualifications" to introduce employers to your most relevant skills and experience, and to show them exactly how your experience can fit their needs to grow their company.
- Unrelated awards, hobbies and interests. We once had a job seeker who claimed to be a "pie-eating champion" on his resume, which is a great accomplishment, I'm sure. But it had nothing to do with the job he applied for, and it distracted from the rest of his qualifications. Unless it directly adds to your qualifications for the job, or helps the employer see how you fit with their company culture (for example, if you’re applying to a catering company and you love to cook, that’s a hobby that matches their culture), leave it off your resume.
- Too much formatting. Keep your resume simple, so recruiters can read it quickly and easily. Don't use bold, italics and underlines all at once. Don't use more than one font, and be consistent in the way you present information. Bulleted lists are much easier to read than paragraphs. Keep your resume single-spaced, and shrink your margins to a half inch. You’ll be surprised at how much space poor formatting can take up on your resume, pushing it far longer than it needs to be.
- Lists of tasks for each job. Instead of telling recruiters what you did at your past jobs, tell them what you accomplished -- what were the overarching results of your day-to-day tasks? Rather than rewriting your job description, tell recruiters how you did what you did and why it made a difference to your employer and customers.
What you leave off of your resume can be just as important as what you include, so make sure that precious real estate is taken up with relevant, well-stated, interesting information. Recruiters should be able to check off their list of qualifications easily by reading your resume, and come away with a sense of who you are and the value you can bring to their company.
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