Resumes are difficult to master. In fact, the current average for a resume written by a professional career coach is anywhere from $100-400 in 2022. So why do people feel like they need to pay for these documents?
A resume is more than just a document you have to submit when applying for a job. They’re the first impression you make on an employer and technological advances have made it even more difficult to make it through the screening process. Tools like applicant tracking systems are being used to scan and approve resumes before they even make it to the desk of an employer.
What can you do to make it through these applicant tracking systems and make a good impression? Check out some of the things these industry leaders have advised NOT to include on your next resume.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make today is being nonspecific about the skills you have to bring to the table when it comes to applying for a specific position. Employers have put together a job description for you to read as you discern if this is a position you’re interested in applying for. If you are submitting the exact same vague skills to every employer because you’re not customizing each resume for each application, the employer will know. Not only will the applicant tracking system show that you don’t have any matches, but the employer will see that you didn’t care enough to pay attention to what they are looking for in a candidate.
“There’s a big difference between a quality and a skill,” says Rachel Blank, Founder & CEO of Allara. “You can tell an employer that you’re ‘responsible’ or ‘creative’, but unless you have evidence or skills to back it up, your resume is going to look like it’s been fluffed. Take your time and look for those specific skills and experiences that are being requested in the job description and phrase things on your resume in a similar manner. This shows the employer that not only did you take the time to read what they wrote, but you are the candidate they’re looking for. Additionally, if they’re using an applicant tracking system, your resume will show as a super high match if you incorporate their verbiage and specifically requested skills.”
It can be tempting to put all information that might qualify you better for a job on your resume. However, unless you are a current high school student or have graduated in the last 6 months, employers are unlikely to be interested in what you did in high school. There are some exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, an employer is more interested in the skills and experiences you have than your high school GPA.
“Including all of your high school information is generally a waste of space,” says Max Schwartzapfel, CMO at Fighting for You. “That being said, you can include job experience from your high school years or identify clubs or organizational involvement in your experience sections. Unless you went to a trade school where your high school experience doubled as job training, an employer isn’t likely to be interested in the information that’s included in the education section such as your high school’s name, your GPA, classes that you took, or sports that you played.”
Did you know there’s such a thing as too much information on a resume? While you may have had a ton of different jobs and experiences, it’s recommended that you only select the most relevant to the job you’re applying for. This is where customizing your resume for each position is going to come in handy.
“The general rule of thumb is to keep your resume to 1 page per 10 years of experience in the field or industry you’re applying to,” says Reece Kresser, Co-Founder of Zizi. “This is a widely accepted rule because we, as employers, are more interested in what you’ve done that’s related to this job than those 5 or 6 different part time jobs you worked during college. Pick the jobs that gave you the most relevant skills for the job you’re applying for and leave the rest off. This will help you be able to identify more skills per job instead of only having room for one or two bullets under each position.”
A resume is a PROFESSIONAL document. That means that you shouldn’t be incorporating too much personal information onto your resume. Personal information includes things like hobbies, information about your family, pictures, full street addresses, and more.
“I’ve seen so many things on resumes that shouldn’t be there,” says Cole Steverson, COO at Hybrid2Go. “From talking about their kids to letting us know they can play the kazoo – it seems some people miss the memo that this is a professional document. There is a time and place to be funny or show your personality and talk about these things, but it’s not on your resume. Other aspects such as photos can be a major problem too. Not only do they cause problems with applicant tracking systems, but some organizations classify it as an HR violation because they don’t want to be accused of pursuing an applicant based on their appearance. Finally, it’s no longer necessary to include a full street address on your resume. We’re not going to contact you by mail for an interview and, like anything else on the internet, you have no guarantee that the document will end up in the right hands. There are job scams out there – don’t give them all of your personal info up front.”
Unless it’s specifically requested, you shouldn’t attach any other documents to your resume. It can be tempting to save your cover letter, resume, and references as one document to submit to an employer so they have everything at once, but there may be a reason they’re not asking for this up front.
“If you don’t see anything about including your other application documents in the same file as your resume- don’t do it,” says Michael Ayjian, Co-Founder and Executive Producer at 7 Wonders. “If we need those later, we’ll let you know or you can bring them to an interview. Cover letters and references really hurt your score in an applicant tracking system because they’re not set up to read those documents. Additionally, we may be using an organization system to save files where we need everything separate. Don’t be the person that makes the employer do extra work to save your files separately because you couldn’t follow instructions.”
Bullet points are the best way to get your point across on a document. In fact, we could have included “avoid paragraphs” as another point here. Bullet points allow employers to quickly see the skills and experience on a resume as they skim through the document. Learning how to write a good bullet point takes time and practice but can be the thing that sets you apart from the competition.
“Employers receive dozens of applications for each job they post,” says Joshua Chin, CEO of Chronos Agency. “You need to make sure they see the information on your document as quickly and efficiently as possible. The best way to do this is through your bullet points. Make sure you’re identifying the situation, task, action, and result – often referred to as the STAR method. You have about 5-6 seconds to make a good first impression on an employer – using this method to write a bullet is a great starting point. Try to keep them to one line if you can, too. Remember, the goal of your resume is not to give them every piece of information about yourself and your experience, but to make them want to talk to you in an interview.”
Writing a resume is something that can be a bit overwhelming, but taking it step-by-step and avoiding some of these common mistakes that job seekers make can help you improve your chances of landing that interview.
Make sure you’re writing your resume in a way that shows you understand the job description by incorporating as many skills and specific phrases from the job description as you can. Not only will this show an attention to detail and help the employer see you as a strong candidate, but the applicant tracking systems will rank your resume very high as well.
Include only information that they need. Cut any irrelevant jobs or education from the document and make sure you’re focusing only on professional information. Following the STAR method for bullet point writing can help you make sure you’re including all of the details that you need as well.
Hopefully this information will help you land that next interview and earn the position you’re applying for!