A resume is one of the most personal documents that any of us can have. It is our story told by us, about us, but we often take a one size fit all approach to writing our resume. The most effective resume for any of us is the resume that truthfully tells our story the way we want the reader to interpret it. Two candidates can submitt an effective resume for the same position even though they have vastly different skills, and work and education backgrounds. It all depends on how each candidate tells their story.
One of the biggest secrets in professional resume writing is that the majority of information found in a resume is completely optional, yet we list some information whether it helps or hurts us for no other reason than we believe resumes should be written a particular way and contain certain information. The truth is that a resume should contain acurate information in the order and style that puts the best light on the candidate for a particular position. As a professional resume writter that has also provided recruiting services for more than 500 companies, I would like to share a few examples of information found in most resumes that is not actually required.
1. Your home address. When determining interest in a candidate, an employer primarily needs to know how well the candidate matches the experience, skill, and education requirements for the job. The employer will need to know where a candidate lives, but generally not until the interview or job offer stage. Listing a home address on your resume can help your candidacy if your place of residence allows a short commute to work, on the other hand your address could be used as a criteria for screening a candidate out if the employer determines that your place of residence presents a longer commute to work. Place of residence can be a positive or negative differientiator when deciding between candidates and a candidate with a longer commute can stay in the running longer simply by leaving an address off of the resume. Despite the fact that home addresses are found on the majority of resumes, it is not required information and should be used in the manner that allows the candidate the best chance of having their actual credentials considered.
2. Referrences available upon request. This simple statement has been used for years as a way of showing willingness and flexiblity on the part of the candidate. It is used as a way of basically saying, “I am an open book and have nothing to hide.” The problem is the employer already knows that you will provide references if requested, or they will not offer the job. The statement “References available upon request” tells the employer absolutely nothing. In today’s employer driven job market that often has hiring managers swimming in hundreds of resume responses to a single job posting, removing non-relevant information is key. Since most hiring managers are overwhelmed with resumes and respones to job postings, you should consider removing any non-relevant information that takes up their time but adds no value to their evaluation of your candidacy. Hiring managers assume that you will provide references when they are requested and they do not need to spend additional time reading it.
3. Summary / Objective. Although most resumes contain the same basic sections and sub-sections, the truth is that a great deal of what goes in or stays out of a resume is completely optional. Summary and objective sections fall into the category of optional information as well. Although most people can benefit from the use of an effective summary or objective section, their is no written law that requires it. If you have a strong and consistent work history that is a 100% match for the jobs that you are applying for, going straight to your chronological work history may present the best way of saving the reader time and getting straight to the point of how/why you are a top candidate. In this example, a poorly written summary and/or objective section could serve as repetitive information that the hiring manager will basically read all over again when they read your chronological work history.
4. Complete education history. Once again, less is more. Do not force the hiring manager to have to read information that is generally obvious. Listing only your highest level of education is usually enough. The exception is when you have other education that is directly related to the position, company industry, or job posting requirements. A person that has a B.S. degree does not need to list their high school education as the hiring manager will make the assumption that the candidate has a high school diploma or GED equivalent typically required to obtain the B.S. degree. However, a person that is applying for an Information Technology (IT) position and possesses an MBA as well as a under graduate degree in Computer Science should list the Computer Science degree as it is directly related to the IT position that they are applying for.
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