Tune-up Your Resume

Resume UpdateJacquelyn Smith, Rachel Gillett and Natalie Walters contributed an article to The Business Insider entitled, 29 Things You Should Never Include on Your Résumé.

Hiring managers usually receive a large number of resumes and each requires a large investment of time to read and give proper consideration. Many organizations also employ applicant management systems that collect applicant skills and route them to hiring managers as requested.

CareerBuilders.com indicates that they receive an average of 75 resumes for each position that they post. Hiring managers may only have an average of 6 seconds to determine the candidates’ initial position “fit or no fit” credentials. If you want to make it past the initial cut, you need to highlight your qualifications.

Additionally, I recommend that every professional review their resume periodically. It is unwise to wait until the last-minute to update it. It is also important to consider that you may have several resumes and the appropriate one can be “tweaked” depending on the professional opportunity.

All of the “29 things” are important, but some may be more critical than others, based on your particular or unique situation. You can read the original article here.

The list:

  1. An objective. It’s already obvious you want the job. The exception: If you’re in a unique situation, such as changing industries completely, it may be useful to include a brief summary.
  2. Irrelevant work experiences. Include past work experience only if it demonstrates additional skills that can translate to the position for which you are applying.
  3. Personal Information. Some information such as marital status, religious preference are now illegal for your employer to ask from you, so there’s no need to include it.
  4. Your hobbies. If it’s not relevant to the job for which you are applying, do not include it.
  5. Falsehoods. Don’t attempt to compensate for lacking 100% of the specified qualifications specified. Surveyed employers said they would consider a candidate who met only three out of five key qualifications for a specific role.
  6. Age. If you don’t want to be discriminated against, remove your graduation date.
  7. Too much text. White space is powerful and use a 0.8 to 1.0 inch margin.
  8. Time off. Don’t include that on your resume in the USA.
  9. References. Employers will let you know if they want to speak to your references. Also, tell your references ahead of time that a future employer may call.
  10. Inconsistent formatting. A consistent resume format is important and should be easy for the hiring manager to easily identify your key qualifications.
  11. Personal pronouns. Exclude “I,” “me,” “she,” or “my.” Do not write your résumé in the third or first person.
  12. Tense. Never describe past work experience using the present tense.
  13. Email address. Do not use an email address like BigStud@gmail.com or Hot-hottie@yahoo.com. Get a new email address and most are free.
  14. Unnecessary words. There is no need to use “phone” or “email” because they are obvious.
  15. Headers, footers, tables, images, or charts. Fancy embedding may confuse the applicant tracking system and produce a poorly formatted rendering of your qualifications, excluding your header or charts.
  16. Current business contact information. This could be dangerous and your email and phone can be monitored.
  17. Your boss’ name. Don’t include your boss’ name on your resume.
  18. Company-specific jargon. Exclude terms on your resume that are known only to one specific organization.
  19. Unrelated social media accounts. Do not add these to your resume. A possible exception is your LinkedIn page or professional links directly related to the position you are seeking.
  20. More than 15 years of experience. Your most relevant experience should be from the past 15 years.
  21. Salary information. This information is completely unnecessary and comes later in the interview process.
  22. Outdated fonts. Use a standard, sans-serif font like Arial in an appropriate font size, but being easy to read is the main goal.
  23. Fancy fonts. Do not use fancy fonts.
  24. Buzzwords. A CareerBuilder survey found that phrases such as “best of breed,” “go-getter,” “think outside the box,” “synergy,” and “people pleaser.” were a turnoff. Employers liked verbs like: “achieved,” “managed,” “resolved,” and “launched.”
  25. Reasons for leaving a position. Listing why you left is irrelevant on your resume and is the time or place to introduce transitions.
  26. Your GPA. If you are a new college graduate and your GPA was 3.8 or higher, you could include that information. After three years, unless your GPA was 3.8 or higher, omit that information.
  27. A photo. This should be included.
  28. Opinions, not facts. Don’t use subjective words such as, “excellent communicator” or “highly organized and motivated” because they are opinions. Hiring managers would appreciate more factual information.
  29. Short-term employment. Do not include short-term jobs.


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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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