Resume Chopping Block: What To Cut

Resume Chopping Block: What To Cut

When completing or updating a resume for a prospective job search, most applicants give it their all – literally. In hoping to present their comprehensive skills, experience and education –  the first instinct is often to include every detail. While the intense effort is commendable, a resume that appears lengthy, cluttered or chaotic will get passed up forresumes that are clear and concise.

But what can you realistically trim from a resume without diminishing the strength of your employment profile? How can you stand out more when the goal is to write less? What if you have a lengthy career history?

With a strategic approach, you truly can deliver quality without quantity. Here are four key approaches to a resume that gets attention in all the right ways.

Run With Relevancy.

Rather than listing every achievement or project completed, target the similarities between the position you are applying for and the experience you have. Remove any old jobs from past, unrelated industries; be sure to avoid using any dissimilar technical jargon that would make an employer question your fit. On the flip side, avoid general, over-utilized phrases such as ‘self-starter’, ‘team-player’, or ‘highly-motivated’. While these qualities may be desirable, they should shine through in your actual performance. Actions speak louder than words… even on paper.

Eliminate Job Duties & Descriptions.

This guidance often surprises prospective employees, who wonder “how will they know what I did?”. The short answer is that they are looking for what you are capable of – which is best demonstrated through measurable accomplishments. For example, instead of mentioning your ongoing communication with customers, talk about efforts which led to a 60% increase in customer loyalty. Instead of explaining how you analyzed department costs, share your strategy for reducing material expenses over four consecutive quarters. Think of a every position as a seed in the garden. Don’t focus on the planting process, but what was ultimately cultivated.

Avoid What Can Be Asked.

There is no need to include your street address, your reasons for leaving your past jobs, if and how your current employer can be contacted or personal hobbies. Given that email is a primary and expected form of initial contact, save that address line for an impressive LinkedIn URL. Explanations for career transitions or for gaps in employment might seem helpful but can actually create the impression that you are making excuses. Review your resume for non-essentials; impress with depth of skill rather than depth of information.

Remove Graphics & Fancy Fonts.

The era of the graphic resume has come to an end. Fonts should be basic (Arial or Times New Roman), spacing and bullets should be plentiful, and graphics should be none. Valuable page space devoted to images suggests a greater focus on fillers. The most appealing resumes deliver a clear, succinct and high-value message. Skimming the resume pile means looking for key phrases, clean layouts and pertinent, proven skills – not the best header.

Now is the time to put the suggestions above into action. Once you review your resume and apply the elimination strategies above, we have every confidence  you’ll see a firmer sense of focus and significance – and employers will too!


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