A clear, concise resume is essential for landing interviews and job offers. Here are five things to remove from your resume to optimize your chances of taking the next step in your career.
1. Too many personal details
When putting together your resume, you don’t need to add more personal information than is necessary. Include the important details: your name, phone number, and email address are all mandatory, as these will allow the recruiter to contact you for an interview. Leave out information such as your address or date of birth, as this takes up unnecessary space and isn’t relevant for a recruiter at this stage of the application process.
Instead of taking up space on your resume with personal details, use the extra room to elaborate on some of your workplace skills or work experience. Plus, including unnecessary personal information on your resume can make it look slightly amateurish.
2. Buzzwords and cliches
There’s no faster way to make a recruiter roll their eyes than stuffing your resume with buzzwords and clichés like “great team player” or “self-starter.” Recruiters are looking for solid skills that can be demonstrated either through work experience or other extra-curricular activities; buzzwords and cliches are just empty claims. If you want your resume to stand out from the competition, you need to get imaginative with your language. Most importantly, if you claim to have a particular skill, you need to back up your claims with evidence.
Instead of describing yourself as a “team player,” give examples of times when you excelled within a team. Rather listing “self-motivated” as one of your core key skills, illustrate your self-motivation with concrete examples. Show, don’t tell. And always remember to match your resume’s skills to those in the job descriptions of the roles you are applying for.
3. Irrelevant information
While it might be commonplace to list your hobbies and interests on your resume, it isn’t going to sway a recruiter to offer you an interview if they aren’t relevant to your target jobs. You should leave out any hobbies and interests (such as “film buff,” “hiking,” “swimming,” etc.) that aren’t relevant to the job you’re applying for. If you’re going to include interests and hobbies on your resume, they should add something of value to your professional profile. For example, it’s a good idea to highlight hobbies such as charity work or volunteering, especially if the volunteer work relates to the job you’re applying for.
And if you’re a junior professional without much work experience, make sure to use your academic experience on your resume. You can discuss the transferable skills you’ve picked up while studying—such as communication skills, presenting skills, groupwork skills—while also discussing your area of study where applicable.
4. Unnecessary design features
When it comes to writing a winning resume, simple is always better. While you might think that a sophisticated or arty resume template will help you stand out from the competition, recruiters are most likely to skip over any resume that is difficult to read or seems wacky. All the recruiter wants to know is that you have the skills to get the job done efficiently and bring value to their team. So, you want the first thing that the recruiter notices to be your skills, not an extravagant color palette or design.
You also don’t need to include a photograph on your resume, or any logos (for example, if you have a freelance business with a custom logo.) This is especially true if you’re a student: logos, graphs, and photos are completely unnecessary and pointlessly take up space on your resume.
One of the worst things you can do on your resume is lie. While it might be considered normal to embellish your achievements on your resume, it’s never a good idea—especially in the age of the internet where most information can be Googled and verified in a number of minutes.
It’s an even worse idea to lie about your skillset. If you find yourself in an interview and struggle to demonstrate credible evidence of your claimed skills, you can be guaranteed that the recruiter will be able to tell straight away. At best, you’ll embarrass yourself during the interview; at worst, you’ll lose out on the job—and might even find your name blacklisted with the company. Always be honest about your skillset, while demonstrating an eagerness to learn and evolve.
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading UK careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.
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