There are a lot of hard and fast rules about resume writing everyone should know. As time goes on, the rules of writing the perfect resume begin to shift with employer and industry preferences, the technology used to filter resumes and laws regarding employment.
For example, the focus used to be on catching an employer’s attention, putting your best foot forward and standing out as the best applicant for the job. While that’s still important, technology used to accept and submit resumes means the focus now must be on keywords included in your skills and experience.
If you don’t make it past the computer, there’s no point in trying to capture the focus of any human -- no one will ever read your resume. That being said, here are a few things you might be able to leave off your resume to make more room for those exalted keywords.
1. References (Or References to Your References)
There was a time where almost any resume would include either outright listing professional references or mentioning the possibility of references if the employer wanted to hear from your old bosses or colleagues. Almost every resume in days gone by included the phrase “references available upon request.”
No longer. Most employers will assume that if they want references for a potential candidate, the person will have more than enough to suit their needs. Some may not even want references, because no potential employee is likely to offer a reference that won’t give them a glowing review. Save this space for some more keywords.
2. Unnecessary Details
No employer needs your address until you’re being onboarded. They don’t need to know your hobbies. Or your college GPA. These details are all relics of a bygone era in which humans would have to look through resumes until finding a potential candidate that not only would meet the requirements of the job but also excel in the position.
Today, computer algorithms determine who would be qualified for the job and send those qualified people onto the next round. There’s no opportunity to submit a second resume with those small details. If your hobbies are related to your industry, include those as skills. Otherwise, the interview is your chance to stand out.
3. Objective Statements
The objective for applying to any job is to secure an interview and get the job to further your career. If your resume details a history of working in an industry or sector, the objective of rising within that industry is also pretty clear.
With potentially hundreds of qualified resumes to sift through, the person who finally gets to read your resume after the computer filters out the unqualified (or those who failed to use the coveted keywords) is going to want to dive right in to your experience and qualifications, not read your thoughts on your own future.
4. Non-Applicable Skills
There was a time when employers found a jack-of-all-trades kind of employee as an attractive asset. Those days are long gone. Today, employers want to hire people who specialize in the skills they need. As the job gets more and more in-depth and technical, the more specialized the candidate should be. It’s so prevalent, companies are investing millions in “upskilling” employees for specific skills.
So if you’re a jet engine mechanic, mentioning your photography skills isn’t likely to garner any positive second glances. It’s just taking up space where you could be listing other technical skills or even soft skills.
5. Irrelevant Experience
While you may be tempted to show you have a long work history and the ability to hold down a job for more than two years at a time, the employer will assume this to be the case unless your resume shows otherwise -- and there’s nothing you can do about that.
What you can (and should) do is show how much relevant work experience you have for the job in front of you. If you have more than 10 years of experience in a field, this means you also may need to cut some related experience to keep it to one page. What you’re showing is a page full of relevant experience, even if there are a few gaps. You can explain the gaps when you get the interview.
6. Photos of Yourself
Some resume gurus swore by photos on resumes for a time. That time has passed (if it ever existed at all). There are some laws and policies in place that require employers to toss resumes with photos right away, for fear of violating equal opportunity laws or exhibiting any appearance of discrimination.
The worst part about including a photo is that it takes up so much space, which would serve you as a job candidate better if what you would bring to the position was displayed there.
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