Five Things to Cut from Your Resume
These days, one’s resume should be all about skills and expertise rather than a chronology of the jobs you’ve held in the past. Especially if you are looking to transition to another area, you’ll want your resume to highlight the talents you have and the skills you’ve developed that could launch you into a new field. Also, to attract the attention of time-starved hiring managers it’s important for a resume to be concise and uncluttered — and to serve as a way to market you through your Web site, blog or digital writing samples.
How to get all this information in that recommended one to two-page space (and two pages only for those with 10 or more years of experience, hiring experts say)? By doing what editors do best — getting out the machete and hacking away! Don’t worry; in many cases, mere trims will be necessary. And by cutting items from your resume you’ll not only free up space to provide more relevant details but sometimes you’ll be clearing out extraneous information that could give recruiters pause.
Here are five things no longer necessary on a resume that by cutting, could give you more space for what is important:
*Months of service and sometimes even the dates of years you held a position. Adding the months you worked at an organization (March 2007-June 2009, for instance) is no longer necessary and only clutters up a resume. Cut them. Or if it’s important that you note months for a very particular reason (a political campaign for instance, though in many cases a reader could figure out by the nature of the campaign what months it would have included) set them off to the side. Also, in some cases it may not be necessary to include years. If a job or set of jobs (say several positions you had at an organization you worked at 10, 15 or 20 years ago) is well in the past, you’re better off to list what you did there and not note the years, especially if you are worried about possible age discrimination. The same is true of listing the years you received degrees if they were attained more than 20 years ago — if the organization really needs to know when you graduated from college, they can ask.
*Basic proficiencies. Recruiters sometimes see on resumes a list of “skills” or proficiencies that they would expect a candidate to have — on journalism resumes it’s “familiarity with AP style,” or basic computer knowledge such as “experience with Word and Adobe” or routine social-networking skills like “well-versed in using Facebook and Twitter in reporting.” Don’t list skills that most people who would applying for this job should have. Instead, list specialized multimedia skills and other proficiencies, and tie these skills to experience you’ve had in using them. If you mention ordinary skills, a recruiter will wonder why — and will question whether you’re padding your resume with this stuff because you lack more advanced skills.
*Street address. These days, it’s perfectly fine to drop your street address. Under contact information, you’ll want to include your email address (or addresses), at least one phone number and other ways to contact you, such as through LinkedIn or via your Web site or blog. As resumes are primarily online documents anyway, a street address isn’t necessary. You will want to avoid it, in fact, if you’re applying for a D.C. area job from somewhere else — as organizations these days are rarely paying to relocate people and may not invite you for an interview if they think you don’t already live in the area.
*Long lists of duties for each job held. Again, you’re seeking to emphasize your skills and expertise, and to showcase the experience that’s relevant going forward. A passive list of duties for each job is not eye-catching and could bore the hiring manager. Instead, group relevant positions together — especially those at a particular company — and emphasize, in bullet-fashion, your accomplishments and successes in the position rather than merely describing the job you held. Keep each notation brief and use “action words” to describe what you did. Remember, your resume is the jumping-off point for a discussion of your skills and abilities — it’s not meant to be a document detailing your entire career past.
*Equally long lists of articles, speeches made or media appearances. While you’ll want to highlight such things as award-winning projects, important speeches and key panels you appeared on, a long listing of such things is often a big turnoff for a busy hiring manager. Instead, group such items, especially media appearances (you can say “regularly appeared on C-SPAN, CNN and BBC during the 2008 election cycle to discuss political fund-raising,” for instance.) And provide links to your work whether through a media organization or to your own blog or Web site. This is the best way to highlight your work and also allows the hiring manager to check you out further on their own. It’s also more elegant on your resume — in effect, your professional “calling card” — to be showing your capabilities rather than bragging on yourself in a long-winded fashion. Brevity is king.