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Decluttering your resume is a task worth tackling

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Have you ever watched that show “Hoarders”, about people who obsessively hold onto things so long that they end up with a house full of junk? A house so cluttered that they couldn’t find anything they really needed if their life depended on it? Everywhere you look, there are stacks and stacks of unnecessary, unneeded junk.

What if I told you that a surprisingly large portion of resumes look just like these people’s houses; resumes that are cluttered, unorganized, and filled with a whole lot of stuff that needs to be tossed? It’s true, and the problem with that is, a cluttered resume is an ignored resume. Now the question is, is yours one of them?

OK, so how to identify and cut the clutter? Well, first off, unless it’s absolutely necessary to illustrate specific value to a potential employer, don’t list any job you left more than a decade ago. Many of today’s hiring managers view skills, particularly technical skills, used more than a decade ago as outdated.

Keep the section devoted to each job brief and to the point. Company name, dates of employment, and your job title are musts. Follow that with a very brief job description. There’s no need to go into gross detail; unless you had a very esoteric job, most hiring managers will know what it is you did. Then, add up to three bullet points that illustrate specific accomplishments, and how your employer benefited from them. That’s it. Next!

If you wish to have a section where you list specific skill sets you have, keep it short, to the point, and relevant to the job at hand – which means you might need to tweak this section for each job you’re applying for. For example, if Power Point expertise is required and you have it, then by all means, list it.

Should you list outside activities and interests? Not really, unless they have relevance to the job at hand. If you’re applying for a accountants position, the fact that you like to hike isn’t likely to help you, but having been your HOA’s treasurer for four years might.

Education: list the highest level of education only. If you have an MBA, you don’t need to list your Bachelors Degree because a lower degree is implied.

Awards: “If you’ve got it, flaunt it”; but keep the list on target for employment purposes. Winning the local chili cookoff three years running is not relevant to a job search unless you’re applying to be a cook in a Tex Mex restaurant.

Religious Affiliation: No, no, and no. It’s irrelevant to your job search, and none of an employer’s business.

And lastly, lose the ever popular and totally unnecessary “Goals (&/or) Objectives” statement. Hiring managers already know you want a job by the simple fact you sent them your resume. They’re also read at least a thousand times how each applicant’s goal is to learn and grow, and to make life better for themselves, their employer, and for all mankind and small animals, too.

Once you’ve pruned your resume, you ought to be able to fit it on one page. In today’s world of instant gratification, that’s pretty much all you get; anything on page two likely won’t get looked at.

So get out your resume, and trim it up. If you have trouble doing that – and many people do – ask a friend or relative whose opinion you trust to help out, and listen to them.

The effort will be worth it. After all, what would you rather hoard, paychecks or rejection letters?

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