Sunday, February 27, 2011

Keep It Simple Stupid!

When you're job hunting, your main objective before landing a gig is getting an interview. The golden ticket to landing an interview is constructing a great resume. However, it's not that easy. In my line of work, I have the opportunity to screen resumes and of course, some pique interest and some raise eyebrows. There are plenty of resumes that fall under the Raise Eyebrows category: resumes with typos, resumes with little to no information, and resumes that give too much information. For the resumes with TMI, it's really an eyesore to people who screen resumes. The last thing you want a potential employer to do while they're reading your resumes is develop M.E.G.O. (My Eyes Glaze Over). You only have a couple of seconds to make a great first impression on paper, make it count for something. 

To create a resume that accentuates your high points while getting to the point, here is some info that you might not want to include: 

1. (Overly) Personal Information 
In no way, shape, or form should you ever put too much personal info on your resume. Your social security number, birthday, etc. should never be put on your resume. That would be like volunteering to be the victim of identity theft. Also, for older candidates, volunteering things like your birthday could work against you despite the laws against age discrimination. 

2. Hobbies 
Unless you're filling out an application on or any other dating site, putting your personal hobbies on a resume is absolutely useless. Employers just want to find out about your qualifications, not that you like dancing, swimming, and cooking international dishes on the weekends. Save that kind of info for when you get the gig and you're making water cooler chat with your co-workers. 

3. Irrelevant Achievements 
If you've amassed a number of achievements over the years, that's definitely something to put down. However, listing your achievement of being Prom Queen is not applicable under any circumstances. Your best bet is to list achievements in your field of interest. If you're in the writing field and have many pieces that you would like to show--blogs, reviews, and other writing samples--please do not send a massive amount of links on your resume. Employers will not be impressed; instead they'll be annoyed that they have a bunch of links to look at. Take your best samples, print them out, and put them in a nice portfolio. When you snag an interview, then you can show off your work in an impressive yet professional way.

4. Laundry List of Responsibilities 
In your work experiences, you usually have a lot of responsibilities. Some responsibilities are mundane and run-of-the-mill; I would suggest keeping duties like copying/faxing, mailing, etc. down to a minimum and focus more on "big picture" duties. Your responsibilities should somehow show that you've either increased your company's revenue, decreased the company's costs, or streamlined a process. You have to show that you've made something easier for your bosses. 

5. Every Single Job 
If you were on a date, would you start the conversation with every detail of your past relationship and expect to go on a second date? Didn't think so. Your job history shouldn't date back to your after school job in high school. An easy way to determine the proper jobs to put on your resume is to make a subtitle called 'Relevant Experience' and provide details on jobs that are relevant to the position. For other jobs that are irrelevant to the position your applying for, create a subtitle called 'Other Experience' and simply provide basic information such as company name, company location (city, state), your title, and dates of employment. 

Giving too much information on your resume is like giving it up too fast on a date. You'll be viewed as a desperate person and you won't get a second chance to make a good impression. Times are rough and I know that everyone is trying to put their best foot forward, but don't throw everything but the kitchen sink into your resume. Keep it simple and to the point. It'll make it easier for employers and easier for you to get that interview! 

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