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Resume expert Kim Isaacs describes how to pare down your resume to a career snapshot in this last of her series of five posts.
Did you ever overpack for a trip and wish you could just take half of your suitcase's contents and throw it in the river? Traveling light can help you avoid checking luggage, sidestep dealing with porters, and generally scoot around with ease.
The same concept applies to your resume; the document should be light and easy for readers to handle. As hiring managers are busier than ever, your resume will get a cursory review before landing in one of three piles: "delete," "maybe call," or "call." Excess baggage in the form of old, irrelevant information or a cramped design can block you from landing in the coveted "call" pile. Check your resume to see if you are being weighed down with excess baggage, including:
Old Jobs Employers are most interested in recent accomplishments, so you don't have to provide in-depth descriptions of positions you held 15 years ago or earlier. For older jobs, you can create a brief "Early Career" section and only provide the basic details of these long-ago positions.
Irrelevancies I've seen many resumes that look like the result of a "brain dump." Every job, skill, accomplishment, professional activity, and hobby is lumped in. It's the equivalent of packing for a trip and emptying several drawers of clothes into your suitcase without thinking about what you'll actually need (I may or may not be guilty of this). For every item on your resume, consider whether it is relevant to the job that you are targeting. Delete anything that seems extraneous or doesn't support the message you're trying to convey.
Information Overload You have a lot to say, and it's all there on the resume. To get it to fit your desired resume length, you've reduced the font size to microscopic and virtually eliminated white space. If this sounds like your resume, edit some of the information so that only the key points are emphasized. The layout of your resume should be inviting to read, well-organized, and concise. Think of your resume as a snapshot of what you have to offer, not an account of everything you have done in your career.
I don't know about you, but I feel lighter already. Best wishes for a successful job search!
Kim Isaacs is a firm believer in the power of a resume to jump-start careers and change lives. She is the director of ResumePower.com, a resume writing firm that prepares job seekers for success in a competitive job market. Kim has served as Monster's Resume Expert since 1999.
Have you checked out the Office in Education blog? Students won't want to miss Do you love job offers? Resume tips that get you there, a blog post with the good advice not to wait until you've graduated to start sending your resume to potential employers. Power your spring job search with a dose of good humor from the Office Comic.