resume advice

There are resume writing tips all over the web, but that’s not the only source available. You can find resume writing tips in daily life, and also in some unexpected places—for instance, from reading William Shakespeare.

This week, we have three lessons you can take from Shakespeare’s works and apply to your resume.

Brevity

“Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,

And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,

I will be brief.” Hamlet (2.2).

Rambling (which the character who says this typically does) is not an effective way to communicate. Being clear and direct is the best way to get your point across. This is especially true for resumes, because you have a limited amount of time in which to make a good impression on a recruiter or hiring manager.

The “limbs and outward flourishes” in this case are unnecessary words, excess information, and jargon that distract from the most important parts of your resume. A short resume is more effective than a long one. If your resume reads more like a detailed autobiography and less like a concise and targeted document that quickly makes the case for you as a candidate for a specific job, then it’s time to start editing.

Honesty

“My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,

At random from the truth vainly express’d.” Sonnet 147.

In other words: “I’m thinking and talking like a crazy person, and speaking lies.” In this sonnet, Shakespeare is so consumed by feelings for his mistress that he twists reality, and lies to himself, to justify what he wants.

Lying on your resume is one of the worst things you can possibly do. But job seekers have done similar things to what Shakespeare does in this sonnet—they see a job and want it so much that they lie on their resume to look like a better candidate.

According to Miriam Salpeter, a contributing writer for Monster.com, there are four main types of lies people use on their resumes: lies about past employers, lies of omission, half-truths, and embellishments.

It goes without saying that lying on your resume is wrong, and in this case, Shakespeare provides a stark example of how unhealthy it is to try to change the truth to suit what you want.

Timing

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” The Merry Wives of Windsor (2.2).

Getting your application in soon after a job is posted can dramatically increase your chances of landing the job.

“Job seekers underestimate the importance of being at the front of the hiring line,” according to Chris Forman, the CEO and co-founder of StartWire.

A StartWire study of more than 6,000 hires showed that 27% of those hired applied within the first two days of a job being posted, and almost 50% of those hired applied within the first week.

Spending days perfecting your resume might hurt your chances more than it helps. Especially considering the sheer volume of candidates for each job posting, it typically doesn’t take long for the recruiter or hiring manager to gather a list of top candidates to begin the interview process. If you don’t make it onto that list, you’re likely out of luck—chances are that, once the process has begun, they won’t go back to look at additional applications that come in.


Resume writing isn’t always an easy task. So how can you get your resume ready to go quickly? One tip is to keep a career management document (or master resume) and update it regularly.

The other is to paste the text of your resume and the text of the job description into Jobscan’s resume analysis tool. You’ll get instant feedback on how well your resume is targeted for the job, plus suggestions on what you can do to improve it. Jobscan makes it easy to tailor your resume quickly, making it possible for you to get your application in early—thus improving your chances at landing the job.

Does your resume pass the test?

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