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Your resume is your advertising copy, not an autobiography. It's not meant to tell your entire life story; it's meant to tell the employer what you have done in your life that will help them. It's your sales pitch. When creating your resume, think like an advertising copywriter. Would they put a lot of irrelevant information that has nothing to do with selling their product in their advertisement? Of course not. First of all, they would lose your interest in the product and you would walk away not knowing why you should buy their product, or even what their product is.
Second, advertising space is expensive. The client wouldn't want to waste one single penny of their precious advertising dollars on unrelated fluff. The advertiser wouldn't sell a thing, and they would most assuredly lose their client. It's same with your resume; it must be written in a clear, concise manner all the while highlighting your assets for a particular job. Your resume is not a place to show off your creative writing skills. If you find your resume is running onto three pages and more, it's a good sign you need to rethink the information you're including and go to the cutting table.
It's a red flag that you need to be more concise. The exception to this rule would be if you are in a senior-level or Executive position, or you're writing a CV. For more information on the differences between a CV and a resume, there is a whole movie on CVs that you may refer to. When going to the cutting table, consider combining unrelated positions, highlight transferable skills or positive personal attributes that you can use in your targeted position. Take a look at this example.
Let's say you worked a bunch of part- time jobs through college. You may have included information such as, 1990 you worked several part time jobs 91, 92, 93, and each one of them you separated out. First of all, this takes up a lot of precious room, especially if you're running onto multiple pages. Second, it looks as if you weren't holding down a full-time job for four years when the truth is that you were taking a full credit load while paying your way through college by working part-time jobs.
And don't expect the hiring manager to put your college dates together with your part-time work. They don't have time. Don't assume. Instead, spell it out for them like this: 1990 to 1993 worked several part-time jobs to support myself through college by taking a full course loan. This says a lot about you. It says you were self-sufficient and hard-working, a real go-getter, and it took one line instead of four. Let's take a look at some other ways to make your resume more concise.
Target your resume to the position you're applying for by taking out any nonessential information and anything not relevant to the position you are seeking. But don't cut out entire job that you've held for a long time because they're not relevant. This will leave a gaping hole in your employment history. Instead, look for a way to highlight your transferable skills. If you are a receptionist, for example, and now you're in sales, find a way to highlight the experience you acquired meeting people and the communication skills you've gained that you can now use this as a salesperson.
Avoid the laundry list of job responsibilities and long description of job duties. Remove the words 'responsible for' and 'duties included'. They take up a lot of precious room and are presumed by the employer anyway. Instead, highlight your accomplishments and achievements. Delete hobbies and personal information. Remove 'References available upon request', and never include references on your resume. If you have the word 'resume' at the top of your resume, remove it. We know it's your resume.
The exception to this is if you're creating an online resume and you're using it as a keyword for searches. Take off technical skills that are no longer used in the industry. They will not only make you look like a dinosaur, but will lead the employer to assume you aren't up to date with technology. Let's look at a few things to avoid while trying to trim the fat. Don't shrink your font to the point that someone has to strain to read it; instead trim words or go on to a second page if need be. The only thing a recruiter likes less than a resume that is hard to read is the applicant who submitted the resume that's hard to read.
Don't whittle away your white space and your margins. Next, review your resume while asking yourself these questions: Have I deleted all non-essential and irrelevant information that does not pertain to the targeted position? Did I include all the gory details? Recruiters don't need to know every single detail of every little task you've ever done and every job you've ever had. Is it focused, targeted, and to the point? Will my resume make the employer reach for the phone? When writing your resume, make every word count towards winning an interview.
Make it easy for the employer to read and easy for them to find pertinent information. Don't make them work for it. Convince the employer with your words that you are the most qualified candidate for the position. The purpose of your resume is to attain an interview where you can further elaborate upon your experience, but first you must get the interview, and your resume is your key. Remember, sometimes less is more!
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