Your resume is the most important document in your job search. Everything on it needs to add value. But sometimes, we add elements to our resumes that take away from all the hard work we’ve put into it. From a recruiter’s perspective, here are seven things that could be subtracting from the value of your resume.
Bland Objective Statement
There’s a big difference between an objective statement and a professional summary. Unfortunately, a lot of people still go with the former. They lead with an objective like “To contribute to the company’s bottom line by applying knowledge gained through coursework and struggle,” or “To continue developing professionally and to apply what I’ve learned as a professional in my profession to drive organizational bliss.” This adds no value. Instead of a bland objective statement, try a professional summary that captures your years of experience, relevant skills, certifications and memberships, and the industries you’ve worked in.
There's no point in saying you're a motivated, innovative and passionate problem solver with a keen eye for detail. That should come across in your experience. List specific problems you've solved and show your passion in your affiliations and activities. Check out this list of cliché descriptors and see if anything from your resume made the list
Clunky Skill Matrices
Do you have a table filled with skills at the top (or bottom) of your resume? If so, you may be wasting space and irritating recruiters. Listing all of your skills may help with getting keywords in your resume, but you should be using those keywords when you’re describing your experience (Noticing a theme here?). Additionally, those tables don’t always play nicely when uploaded into applicant tracking systems. Don’t make a recruiter’s job more difficult – if even for a moment. A little secret: When I was a headhunter, I’d usually drop the skill table from resumes before sending them over to clients.
When you're fresh out of school, maybe some of those awards will have a favorable impact since it’s early in your career. But winning the long jump at the high school championships won't help you leap into a new job. It’s the same with listing scholarships. Fulbright Scholar? Awesome. Lamont’s AME Church Award? Not so much...unless you're applying to gigs at churches or similar institutions. If you absolutely must have awards on your resume, make sure they’re relevant. Otherwise, they’ll most likely be ignored (and you’ll be wasting space…again).
Irrelevant Clubs and Organizations
See 'Irrelevant Awards.'
First Person Narrative
Your resume isn't a blog post.
Personal Social Media Accounts That Are All Over the Place
Once you disclose it, they will never forget it. Every message you send out (and have sent out) can affect your candidacy. If you're all over the place with your messaging and discussions, a recruiter might think you'll be all over the place on the job. We look for reasons to filter people out more than we look for reasons to move people on. Don't share your social media info unless you’d be comfortable with recruiters and your future manager following you.
In summary, make every word and design element count. You may only have 15 seconds to prove yourself before you end up in the trash can. Don’t let your additions subtract!
Rich Jones is a Pathfinder for Professionals with a knack for helping the wayward determine the next steps of their careers. He’s also a certified professional in Human Resources with for-profit and non-profit recruiting experience. Check Rich out on his career blog I Am Rich Jones.