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Is Your “Perfect” Resume Actually Hurting You?


Is Your Perfect Resume Actually Hurting YouDid you know that most job applicants don’t understand the purpose of a resume?  The purpose of your resume is not to get you a job, it is to get you an interview. You can sabotage your very first impression by including too much in your resume. So what should you cut out? The answer may surprise you.

Brevity is power
Keep it short.  The point of your resume is to introduce yourself and demonstrate how you meet the employer’s skill requirements. You need to pique their interest, but don’t list everything about yourself and your experience. This might sound like odd advice but it’s actually basic human psychology. The employer has to want to find out more about you and feel like they could learn something from contacting you for an interview. So even if you were the best candidate to apply, you’ve already lost by not making it to the interview round.

Leave them wanting more
When adding descriptions to your past accomplishments, less is more.  A well crafted resume will leave the hiring manager with questions to ask you that can only be answered in an interview.
If you have a long list of duties attached to each past experience you’ve listed, don’t be surprised if no one asks for an interview no matter how well qualified you are. Such a list is boring, repetitive and obvious, and what’s worse, it tells the interviewer all they need to know about your experience so you don’t get to shine in the interview. Cut down your list of duties and carefully craft 1-5 sentences in bullet point form. These should detail your best accomplishments or contributions to your past position, depending on which experiences you wish to highlight the most. Use clear language but don’t be afraid if you leave off your lesser experiences. Your resume should discuss only your skills and accomplishments, never mundane details that make you fade into the crowd rather than standing out. Change blocks of text and monotonous lists into dynamic, powerful words. Try not to repeat yourself and focus on words that demonstrate value you added, like “develop”, “coordinate”, “design” and “maintain”.

Get rid of

  • References to your age, race, political affiliation, sexual orientation, home ownership status, or the qualifications and experiences of your family members or friends.
  • Your work experience from that summer job when your were 16.
  • Your headshot.
  •  Lies or exaggerations. It’s easy to nitpick or give yourself an excuse to embellish a bit on your credentials but if you’re not being honest, you could get fired or worse. Isn’t it easier to just tell the truth and save yourself the anxiety?
  •  Anything that was once considered “confidential” in your former positions. This can include clients and in-house financial dealings. Blabbing about that to information to anyone, especially perfect strangers, tells employers you can’t be trusted with sensitive information.
  • If you were fired from a job and what you were fired for. There’s no reason to disclose that in a resume and get yourself counted out. Be honest when if you’re asked during an interview, but leave it out of the resume.
  • Salary Expectations, unless the job posting specifically requests it. Again, how much you’re worth and what they’re willing to pay for the position is a conversation to have at the interview, not before.

The single most effective, powerful thing you can do when making your first impression is to find ways to count yourself in to the interview, not out. Be concise, be interesting, save the jokes and cleverness, and make any language you do use clear, powerful and positive. When you leave your employer wanting more, they’ll make meeting you a priority, and you can let your natural personality and passion steal the show.

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