In the March 8, 2011 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader wonders, just what really needs to be on a resume?
I’ve read conflicting advice about what to put in my resume. Right now, it runs over two pages, since I’ve got quite a bit of history that I need to present. Some resume advice says to keep it short, even just one page, and to say only what’s necessary. But what’s necessary?
Here’s the short version of my advice: (For the entire column, you need to subscribe to the free weekly newsletter. Don’t miss another edition!)
The purpose of a resume is not to recite your entire work history. At least 30% of any resume is jargon that’s in all resumes — cut it.
Here’s what I’m talking about. The “objective,” for example, is purely wasted space. Look at five resumes, and you’ll see all the same jargon and gibberish about wanting a job with a growth-oriented company, and good opportunities, and a progressive work environment, where you can make a positive contribution as a team player by “working with people.”
If the hiring manager doesn’t already know why you want to work there, then don’t send the resume…
Another 30% of resumes is past history that is repeated, in one way or another, from one job description to the next. Cut it or shorten it way down…
The biggest waste of that 30% of space devoted to detailed work history is job jargon…
At least 10% of a resume is about credentials that, especially for management jobs, aren’t used to make a decision to interview you…
That leaves about 30% of the space in your resume to show how you’re going to apply what you’ve really got in your toolkit, to help the employer.
Where in your resume is that? Where do you show how you will do the specific job for the specific employer in a way that will drop additional profit to the bottom line? That’s what’s necessary… [Want a more detailed explanation and tips? Subscribe to the free newsletter, which includes the entire discussion.]
Try this test: Tear your resume in half. Read the top half. Does it tell me how you’ll bring more profit to my bottom line?
I can tell in 5 seconds whether your resume is worth reading. It quickly tells me you have a good idea about what I need, and outlines how you’re going to do it. Or it’s a bucket of history that I have to sort through, to figure out what you can do.
And I don’t have time to do that. Don’t gag me with your history.
Oh, I know it’s offensive that a headhunter or a manager won’t invest the time to read, fathom and understand who you are — and to guess what you can do. The reason you haven’t landed a new job is because you haven’t found a manager willing to carefully read your resume, right?
No, the reason is that your history doesn’t matter as much as what you can do next. And managers suck at figuring that out.
So tell me: What do you put on your resume? Do you even use a resume?