Sometimes I look back at older versions of my resume and they leave a lot to be desired. I didn’t really understand the importance of strategic placement or the value of white space. I thought I needed to add certain details just because I had seen them on other resumes. I would shrink my font size to 9 or 10 to cram everything together because I thought it all needed to be there.
I cringe at how many of these resumes I must have sent out.
Having compromised the visual display of my resume and cluttered it with unnecessary items probably prompted recruiters to skip over my application. The older versions of my resume were unoriginal. I should have focused on how I could make my resume stand out using my relevant experiences and proper formatting. The way to achieve a strong resume is through tweaking and polishing instead of overcompensating.
You may be able to relate to these feelings of despair; so many people have been there before. You are not alone. If you want to stand out from the crowd and add value to your resume then this is for you.
Here are 10 things you can remove from your resume well under 5 minutes:
1. Protected Information
If you’ve included sensitive information such as age, nationality, religion or marital status, you might want to consider removing these components. Your prospective employer does not require any of this personal information to see if you are a good fit for the role. Leave the focus on your previous experiences, education and competencies.
2. Unprofessional Emails or Multiple Emails/Phone Numbers
Emails such as [email protected] or [email protected] are not professional. When you use unprofessional emails in your applications, you risk not being taken seriously. A professional email should include your first and last name- none of the fluff.
It is also important to make sure you have listed only one email and only one phone number where hiring managers may reach you. Adding too many ways to contact you is confusing and unclear. Your goal is to make it as simple as possible.
3. Street Address
Listing your complete street address is no longer a requirement on a professional resume. This practice comes from the days of old when the bulk of correspondence occurred through post. Today, everything is digitalized and recruiters will be communicating with you by email.
4. Your Picture
In this day and age, you can pretty much assume that recruiters will google you. A lot of insight to who a candidate is and what they are like as a person can be easily found on your social media profiles. Between social media and professional networking sites like Linkedin, anyone searching your name will generally be able to find a picture of you quite quickly.
Ideally, the profile that will come up first on a google search of your name will be your Linkedin profile. A well developed LinkedIn profile would include your photo, but not just any photo. This is not the place to use that picture of you from your besties’ bachelorette party: make sure you invest in having a professional photo done. If hiring a photographer is not in your budget, have a friend take a photo of you against a blank backdrop in professional attire.
Realize that having your photo on your resume also opens the door to natural and subconscious biases. You want to put your experience and qualifications at the forefront of your resume and if someone were to look into your candidacy further, offer a professional headshot on your Linkedin profile.
5. Objective Statements
One-line statements expressing what you’re looking for in the job market are too generic to include on your resume. Chances are, recruiters won’t read them, and they might think you are using the same generic line for every application. Removing your objective statement will allow you to put something of more value at the beginning of your resume such as a list of your skills or a well crafted personal summary.
When developing your relevant experiences, it is worthwhile to use bullet points with strong action verbs. Bullet points will give your work experience structure and allow recruiters to understand your various duties. Using paragraphs makes the content seem lengthy and difficult to review. Remember, that’s not the goal. The goal is to craft a resume that requires no extra effort from the reader. When we make it dense, we risk our resumes not being read.
7. Images or Visuals
Adding graphs or company icons can easily make a one-page resume turn into two and a two-page resume into three. Graphs that indicate company sales or profits may be interesting, but they take away from your overall responsibilities or accomplishments. They overemphasize one particular contribution and fail to show a wholesome overview of your qualifications.
8. Outdated or Irrelevant Items
Positions you held 10 years ago may not be as relevant today: take some time to carefully examine if you’ve listed any ancient positions. A good way to assess whether to keep content or not is to ask yourself what you remember from the role, how long you were at a certain position and when you finished. If you’re having difficulty remembering the position and have had several other roles since, it may be time to remove it to make room for your more recent experiences. The same goes for leadership and campus experience. If you’re still holding onto awards from 10 years ago, realize that hiring managers are interested in your recent accomplishments.
9. Reference Available Upon Request
The phrase “References Available Upon Request” is too obvious to include on your resume. If an employer requires references, they will be asking you. You can go ahead and remove that line because having a healthy amount of white space is more important. Don’t feel the need to add this overused line just because you’ve seen it on someone else’s resume.
Typically, employers will ask for two references. If you list the details of your two references on your cv, it will take up quite a significant portion, as you would be listing their names, occupation, relation to you, dates of your employment or course, and their contact information. Of course, it is wonderful that you have two references willing to share what makes you remarkable. Maintain those relationships and keep their contact information handy. But keep in mind, employers will ask you to provide references when you get to that stage, no need to rush.
These quick fixes can add tremendous value. When you make these changes, you create more space to tell your story.