Written by Don Goodman
20 seconds. That’s the average amount of time that an employer will spend scanning your resume. The phrase “Less is more” has often been used for design purposes, but it can apply just as well to your resume. The point is to keep only information on your resume that is clear, simple and that supports your brand /message.
It is a balance of having just enough information to draw the interest of an employer, while leaving room for you to further explain during an interview. The more irrelevant information you add to your resume, the more it dilutes your key message. Employers today also look right through fluff words and are rather annoyed by them.
So, you ask, “How can I power up my resume and make sure it contains the precise balance of information?” Consider the following:
Replace the “Objective” statement on your resume with “Professional Profile.”
Employers today are not that interested in what you want. Your opening paragraph needs to be a strong message that summarizes your background and indicates what you are best at. That creates a theme that is then followed by your ‘proving’ that you are great at these things by showcasing supporting accomplishments in each job.
Eliminate superfluous, or “fluff,” words.
I can’t tell you how many resumes start with “Dynamic visionary…” I call these fluff statements as anyone can make them and they add no real value to your resume. Keep your message on point and stick to the facts. If you want to express these traits, demonstrate it with what you have achieved or accomplished.
Watch your grammar.
Sentences in resumes are written like headlines and are in the first person. In other words, the statement “I am known for consistently exceeding my sales quotas” becomes “Known for consistently exceeding sales quotas”.
Another one of the biggest mistakes when writing a resume is when people mix first person and third person. For example, although “Easily learns new software” sounds right, that is the third-person (“she learns”) and should really be “Easily learn” (“I learn”). Small but important point, as you do want your resume to be grammatically correct.
Include one telephone number rather than multiple numbers.
If you must list more than one number, make sure to specify under what conditions the other numbers should be used.
Do not include discriminating information.
Avoid information that can lead one to discriminate against you, including age, sex, religion, marital status, and ethnicity. This includes the use of photos that should never be on a resume unless your face is an important part of your job (e.g. modeling, TV, etc.). In fact, some employers are forced to ignore your resume if it contains such information because of the chance that they may be accused of discrimination later in the process.
Keep information on your education specific to the degree received, major, institution attended, and if appropriate, your GPA.
You do not need to reveal your graduating year, the institution(s) you transferred out of or high school attended.
Include only experiences that are relevant to the job.
Employers are not interested in achievements or abilities that are not applicable to the job. If you are in sales and you helped develop an Access database to track supplies, that’s nice, but not relevant. Also be cautious about listing your associations or volunteer work that is irrelevant or may be in conflict with the potential employer.
Eliminate technical skills for basic software programs.
Most employers today expect you to be familiar with the basic computer programs, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Do not include references unless requested.
Employers today expect you to offer references when requested, which is typically during the latter part of the interview process. A Top 5 Peeve of recruiters is seeing “References available upon request” on the resume. Do you really know anyone who would refuse to give references?
Maintain a reasonable length for your resume.
If you are a recent graduate, most employers do not expect your resume to be more than 1 page. However, if you have had considerable professional experience that your resume should be 2-3 pages. Note that the notion that all resumes should be 1 page is not true especially in this market. Resumes need to have enough detail to support your positioning so a 2-3 page resume is acceptable. I always tell my clients that a resume has to have a compelling message and be easy to read, so after you have tightened up your content, format it to have a decent amount of white space.
Finding the right balance of information for your resume can make it impactful. It’s not about how long or short your resume is or how many employers you’ve worked for, but finding the right information and words to present it in the best light to demonstrate that you have the specific experiences and skills the employer is seeking. So, keep in mind the phrase, “Less is more” when creating or updating your resume.
Don Goodman, President of About Jobs (www.GotTheJob.com), is a recognized Expert Resume Writer and Certified Career Coach and has helped thousands of people secure their next job.
Adebola Oni (Author)