No matter how many hours you spend laboring over your resume, it will ultimately have only 6 seconds to impress a hiring manager. According to Katy Piotrowski, in a recent column for The Coloradoan, “What decision-makers want is a solution to their problem, and if your professional summary is too cumbersome to navigate easily, it becomes just another hassle to abandon. The goal is to present yourself well and quickly.”
Your resume should focus on only the most pertinent and impressive information about you as a candidate. Gone are the days of adding everything you can think of to your resume. Today’s resume is a targeted document providing a clear, concise picture of your experience and accomplishments.
Here are some effective tips for keeping your resume both brief and informative:
Cut unneeded sections
A few common resume sections aren’t actually needed. First, it is assumed that everyone has references available; don’t waste a line saying you have “references available upon request.” Similarly, a resume objective doesn’t tell the hiring manager anything they don’t already know; the act of applying for a job makes your objective obvious. Further, objectives typically focus on the applicant’s perspective, rather than on what the hiring manager ultimately cares about: what the applicant could do for them. In that vein, skip the hobbies and interests section unless they pertain directly to the job.
Focus your skills
Your resume’s skills section should contain relevant, quantifiable skills. If you have skills unrelated to the job you want, consider whether they are worth some of the 6 seconds of evaluation your resume will get. If you think a potential employer would still be interested in knowing about your ability to, say, drive a forklift or speak German, you can address that in an interview or possibly your cover letter.
Skills sections should not contain personal attributes or other subjective information. Not only are people prone to overusing buzzwords here—claiming to be something like a “dynamic, results-oriented team player”—but such claims hold no weight because anyone can describe themselves however they wish. Instead of stuffing your resume full of buzzwords, focus on keywords targeted toward the position you want. Also, browse job postings in your industry to make sure the skills you list are up-to-date. Outdated skills will make you stand out—unfavorably.
Use clear language
Trust me: No one has ever been hired because they put “utilized” on their resume instead of “used.” With as little time as hiring managers spend scanning your resume, you should focus on getting your point across as efficiently as possible. Instead of “in order to,” use “to.” “Until such time as,” should be “until.” Corporate jargon—think “incentivized” and “leveraged”—is typically long and vague. Your resume should tell someone a great deal about you in a matter of seconds. Instead of saying that you “provided solutions,” explain what your solution was and why it worked. Aim for direct and specific.
Read for redundancy
If you read your resume out loud, your ear will catch phrasings you rely on too heavily, or experiences or accomplishments that sound too similar. This is also a good method of finding awkward wording or errors in tenses. Hearing your resume helps you make sure it flows well.
Working to make your resume shorter may seem counterintuitive, but the end result—a document that gives a quick, clear picture of your background and accomplishments—will be worth it. The easier your resume is to read and the more targeted it is toward a job, the more it will stand out.