Many people who are looking for employment opportunities know that having a great resume can provide the crucial advantage necessary to land their desired position. But figuring out what belongs there can be difficult. You don’t need a criminal lawyer to tell you that having a record in Salt Lake City can lead to employers immediately turning you down, but what details can you leave out, and which ones should definitely go on that precious sheet of paper?
Filter experience by relevance
Younger job-seekers may feel a little insecure about the relative paucity of work experience on their professional resumes. On the other hand, veterans with many years of work under their belts can easily fall into the trap of overrunning. No matter where you lie on the spectrum of experience, it’s vital to remember this simple rule: leave out unrelated experience. Recruiters can tell when an applicant is trying to pad their resume with things that don’t matter, such as student clubs or activities joined; being the editor of a college newsletter will be helpful if you’re applying for a writing position, but it’s probably irrelevant for a job in healthcare. Meanwhile, an inability to edit and trim the details of a lengthy career may communicate a lack of focus or effort – it’s expected that people with so much experience would know which jobs, tasks, and skills they possess are relevant, and be able to filter out the rest.
Find what matters
Of course, leaving out irrelevant experience is a rule of thumb and there may be exceptions or gray areas. There can be several ways to justify the inclusion of previous jobs, projects, or tasks handled, even if these don’t seem to be directly related to the position you’re applying for. Otherwise, every student who waited tables to earn money on the side would end up stuck in the food or service industries. Don’t just focus on the listed requirements for a position; analyze the description of skills and responsibilities to get a better idea of what an employer is looking for. Experience as a graphic designer might provide an out-of-field advantage if the description indicates a role in communications or content management. If you can connect the dots, including such items on your resume will demonstrate that you understand what’s expected of the post, and have invested time and effort into tailoring your resume to fit the specifics.
Manage personal information
On one hand, a resume is a very personal document – it tries to summarize who you are in terms of what you’ve done in your career. Yet at the same time, it must be accomplished in a professional manner, since it’s intended to be read by potential employers. You need to strike the right balance when it comes to including personal information. Provide contact information through channels where you’d want an employer to reach you; don’t use the email or phone number issued by your current company, for example. Social media accounts are generally off-limits as well, unless you’re targeting a field such as design or marketing where these are important – in that case, it’s best to create separate accounts for personal and professional use. It’s also advisable to omit information which could compromise a blind selection process, such as your photo, date of birth, religion, and so on.
Your resume is a simple and concise document, but if you make the effort, employers will notice that you’re communicating the right things and give you a shot at proving you’re the perfect fit for a job.