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If you are conducting a job search, your resume could be the most important document that you create to market yourself to prospective employers and get a leg up on your competition in the job market. It is essential that your resume is laser-focused on getting you the job you want.
Your resume is NOT your autobiography and in most cases, it shouldn’t even be a complete record of every job you every held. Instead, it is a document where you can showcase your relevant competence and highlight your pertinent achievements in relation to the type of position you are targeting.
Hiring managers are swamped with resumes and will only spend a few seconds looking at yours before deciding whether or not to screen you out or screen you in. You want to make those precious seconds count. Here are few resume writing tips to help you determine what to leave off your resume, and make it as tight, succinct, and powerful as possible.
1. Your job search objective
This piece of advice is still somewhat controversial, but in most cases, we recommend that you do not include an objective on your resume. Objectives are all about you and what you want. But your resume should be all about the employer and should illustrate how you are the person to fulfill what the employer wants. This is a subtle difference but an important one. However, we all know a focused resume is an effective resume, so how do you establish focus if you haven’t included an objective? The answer is with a profile summary. Just a glance at well-written profile summary will immediately convey the focus of the resume, and will also provide the most important facts that show how you are the answer to the employer’s need and how you will produce value and benefits.
2. Older or irrelevant education
If you have a college degree or have taken coursework toward a college degree, the hiring manager or recruiter who is reading your resume does not care about your high school education. They also do not care about training you have taken that is unrelated to the job you are applying for. Leave your high school education out and use the room for more relevant data.
3. Career details from many years ago
If you are a seasoned professional, you should be strategic about how far back you date your resume. In most cases, you won’t want dates going back farther than 10, 15, or 20 years. But if your early experiences are still relevant, you won’t want to exclude them. The solution is to present the experience but don’t date it.
4. Hobbies and personal information
Is your resume meant to be used for the U.S. job market? Assuming it is, it should not include a photo, your birth date, mention of unrelated hobbies or interests, info about your family, info that reveals your religion, or any other personal data. Including such data in a resume meant for the U.S. market may actually eliminate you from consideration, as hiring decision-makers may be concerned about discrimination suits.
5. Dense, wordy paragraphs
If your resume looks hard or time-consuming to read, very few recipients will take the time to do it. Your writing needs to be concise and your design needs to call out key points at no more than a glance. Short paragraphs followed by bulleted achievements, as shown in this “after” example, are a great way to achieve this. Selective bolding and italics can also have a huge positive impact – just be careful not to overdo them.
6. Generic details from past, less-relevant positions
Put yourself in the position of someone who is looking to fill the position you are applying for. Will the information on your resume convince them that they need to bring you in for an interview? If not, delete it and include more relevant information. Instead of listing every responsibility of your past jobs, target your resume copy directly at the job you are seeking. Include your major accomplishments, things you are proud of and demonstrable skills. Make sure that you are specific about your accomplishments. If you increased sales by 10%, say that specifically. Leave out the generic job descriptions for the past positions.
7. Lists of data without any context
It is essential that you include achievements and results (quantified when possible) in your resume. But lists of facts presented without any explanation or context look suspicious and lacks credibility. While you want to keep your writing as succinct as possible, do provide context for your achievements. You also want to make sure that your include the keywords listed in the job posting That will get you through any automated software filters and attract the attention of the hiring manager. The additional detail required for the context is a good place to fit in some of the keywords that you want to emphasize.
Your resume has one major purpose: to get you an interview for a position you want. These resume writing tips will help you to hone your resume so that it gets the attention of hiring managers and recruiters. By carefully crafting your resume, you will improve your chances at getting the job you want.