Maybe lately you’ve been wishing you had more to put on your resume — more experience, more awards, more of a proven track record of success. But did you ever think about the benefits of having less? Employers don’t want to spend hours going through resumes, and usually only spend six to seven seconds looking at a resume, according to data from Indeed. With this little time on your side, you don’t want your resume crowded with information that doesn’t apply to your job, or simply doesn’t belong there. We want your resume to not only pass the initial scan from resume-reading robots, we want it to swiftly wing its way to the desk of the CEO. Here’s how to keep it tight, keep it clean, and get it seen.
Keep It Current
Any job that you had in high school or college should immediately be tossed, unless you’re right out of college and looking for your first job. The same goes for GPA. Keep it only if it’s above a 3.5, and you’re searching for your first job out of college, says Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert at TopResume. You should also scrap details on hobbies like reading or interests like travel. Those aren’t going to make you stand out. But if you play bagpipes and are a competitive water skiier, feel free to keep that in. The goal is show off how unique you are, on every section of your resume.
Be Personal, But Not Too Personal
Your name, social channels, phone number, email address, (and a portfolio if you have one) should always go at the top of your resume. However, your age, marital status, birthday or physical address don’t belong on your resume, says Augustine. Rather than giving your street number and apartment number, you can just list city and state. Also, don’t include a headshot. Yes, we know you’re gorgeous, but photos can take up a lot of space on a resume, and you should use the space you have to sell your experience, not your dazzling smile. (Besides, headshots go on LinkedIn, and if you don’t have a profile there yet, it’s time to create one ASAP.)
Eliminate the “fluff,” says Melissa Hirsch, principal recruiter at recruiting tool Betts. Keep it short and sweet, and get rid of adjectives and wordiness, as your resume is not a place to show off your passion for poetry. Not only do adjectives make a resume seem unprofessional, obvious “keyword stuffing,” where you try to fit in as many skills and platforms as you possibly can, can land your resume on the rejection pile just as quickly as a resume without any details. There’s nothing worse than an overcrowded resume, says Augustine. So, rather than describing yourself as “highly skilled” or “world class” or a “rockstar” or something else to that effect, stick to the facts. Did you help grow revenue by 300%? Increase social following by 150%? That’s what you should be highlighting, not a fancy adjective that really tells the hiring manger nothing.
Grammatical or Spelling Errors
With employers trying to whittle down resume piles quickly, you can’t risk having a grammatical or spelling error pop up. And even if you aren’t a communications professional, the rule still applies. No employer wants to hire someone who is sloppy, or who fails to check behind themselves to ensure good work. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 77% of employers will instantly trash a resume with typos or bad grammar. Always check (and double-check) your resume until you feel it’s English professor-approved. And bonus points if you have a friend or family member look it over for you.
Thankfully, in a post-COVID world, having a gap on your resume isn’t the problem that it used to be. People get it. But you should still be ready to explain your gaps, and/or make note of them on your resume. Many of us decide do take a gap year after graduation, or perhaps we spend a few years pursuing a new business venture that just doesn’t take off. We may have also faced a layoff, or stepped out of the workforce to care for a parent or child. It’s perfectly acceptable to list gaps on your resume and state what you were doing during that time, such as “Family CEO: Served as stay at home mom, caring for two children, ages 5 and 8.” Or if you had a shorter gap that you don’t want to list, you might consider spotlighting the years you were at a previous job, rather than months, which can help disguise gaps of 11 months or less, says Hirsch. (Of course, on your official application with the company, you’d need to get more granular.) Either way you go, there’s no reason to sweat the gap in 2022.
Immature Email Accounts + Social Media
Remember those emails we all made in middle school so we could chat amongst ourselves? BabyKat01? RiverChick1992? Ring any bells? If you’re still using anything like me old “BamaBabeSophia” it’s WAY past time for you to upgrade to something new. Consider making a Gmail account that uses your name only, you want something that would be recognized as a professional email, and wouldn’t end up in spam. (Because those funky old addresses aren’t just unprofessional, they’re also way more likely to get flagged as spam.) The same goes for any public-facing social media account handles that you plan to share with a prospective employer. Keep it classy, keep it clean, keep it professional.
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