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Karate Chop This Junk Out of Your Resume

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One of the biggest mistakes with a resume is that the candidate comes off as trying too hard. The key idea is this: **relevance**. You get less than a minute of the reviewer's time; so less is more. I constantly see resumes that are cluttered with items that the candidates takes personal pride in, but are not that meaningful to the employer. For example, “GPA of 2.9.” Leave off the GPA if it’s not stellar and differentiating you significantly from your peers (example: in top 2% of class, was the valedictorian). The same rules apply to academic awards. Go easy with the formatting (underlining, all caps, bold). Decorate the Christmas Tree too much and people forget about opening the presents. Too much screaming at them has a diluting effect.

 

Bullet points should be one line, not two, lines long. It defeats the purpose of using bullet points if you stack each one until each bullet is the length of a paragraph. Don’t list out that you know how to use MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (most professionals who work in an office can use them), but do include any statistical software, for example.

 

Some people like to state their nationality. This is an example of something that may open you up to discrimination. It’s also not value adding. What does add value in the employer’s eyes, however, is stating which foreign languages you speak. I’ve seen people disclose their marital status on resumes. Be careful about telling people that at any point in the job search process, even in an interview. I try to avoid talking about that unless they specifically ask, and even then, I try to deflect the question. This is because (especially for women) knowing that you are married or a mother, and especially a single mother, the first thing that pops into the employer’s head is the concern about your reliability. “Great, now I have to worry about covering her shift when her kid gets a runny nose.” It’s a sexist, racist world and you’ve got to be street smart. And they’ll never ever tell you that was the reason you didn’t get called back because they don’t want to get sued.

 

If you put a summary or objective section at the top, have it be exactly that: a summary. No more than one line long. Do not specifically repeat other credentials that are displayed later on in the document.

 

At the top of the resume it is a good idea to display your LinkedIn profile name. You can personalize this so it is your name instead of a jumble of letters. I recommend, though, that you let LinkedIn be LinkedIn and let your resume be your resume. Here’s what I mean. The difference is that LinkedIn is social media, an interactive forum to make business connections. A resume is a business document, like a proposal. You don’t need to link yourself with other people in a resume like you do on LinkedIn. So no need to put company logo’s or your picture on your resume.

 

Lastly, pay attention to the kind of language that you use. I once read a resume where somebody used a term “Financial modeling and analysis of financial statements.” It's great that you have financial skills but how much vaguer can you get? Other examples are “created macros” or “produced risk report.” Is there one iota of value carried with these words? All you’ve done is waste the reader’s time.

 

If your resume looks like this it’s a good idea to sit down with the machete and karate chop this junk out.

 

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