As your career grows, you may feel like a resume hoarder as the job titles continue growing on your resume. I often see this with professionals with “rich work histories” who have transitioned job roles over the years.
You might feel the urge to keep everything because “more is better.” Employers want to see where you started and how you landed at your current career status, no?
While this makes PERFECT SENSE, it’s a poor strategy – and here’s why:
Employers are focused now more than ever on knowing what’s most “recent and relevant” about you – and how that information relates to and translates to them. Remember, your resume is NOT ABOUT YOU it’s about them. Every talking point in the resume is pointed to that next employer. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. It’s my resume and I’ll do with it what I want! Yup, you’re correct. That’s your prerogative.
Yet, employers don’t need to (or want to) know your complete career history. Heck, they don’t even want to know about what you’re doing now – unless it’s essential to them. Listing anything in your resume that’s irrelevant and taking up space is essentially placing hurdles between you and your next ideal employer.
So, what are typical resume hurdles to consider eliminating? Here are a few to consider:
- Irrelevant Job Roles
- Internships & Other Short Jobs
- Off-Point Training
- Projects, Tasks & Other Bits
The best strategy when writing any resume is to consider the job title(s) being pursued and then reverse engineer your steps.
Essentially you need the ideal resume, for the ideal candidate, for the ideal job.
Now that you’ve identified the IDEAL JOB, you need to write the IDEAL RESUME for yourself as the IDEAL CANDIDATE. That makes sense, right?
I’ve had conversations with folks over the years about things they want to keep on their resume. Of course, I often shift into EDUCATION MODE because I want my clients to understand the WHY behind why I do what I do when writing their resume, LinkedIn profile, etc.
A particularly challenging client I worked with years ago didn’t want to let go of any job roles from her resume. She was a tough sell on why her resume misconception wasn’t ideal. Here’s how the conversation played out:
Teena: I noticed you have some old and irrelevant jobs in your resume, Sally. A resume generally covers about a 10-year timeline … and how long your resume should be … experts say around 2 pages. Currently, your resume weighs in at four pages.
Jobseeker: I’m okay with that. Keeping jobs from the 1980s and 1990s shows hiring managers my career progression. I know you’re trying to help, but please, let’s keep those old jobs in my resume.
Teena: Sure, I can do that. However, resumes are for employers, not for candidates. Your resume isn’t about you. As crazy as it sounds, it’s the “like” of the hiring employers I’m most concerned with – and you should be too.
A few weeks after the client uses her preferred resume method, the conversation picks back up and goes something like this:
Jobseeker: My new resume isn’t getting attention. Why?
Teena: Do you remember our conversation about including irrelevant and unnecessary details in your resume? Knowing what you know now, are you willing to revisit doing the nip/tuck I initially recommended?
Jobseeker: So you’re saying that I shouldn’t show career progression in my resume and that I should reflect my management jobs and avoid telling hiring managers where I came from, how I landed where I am now?
Teena: Your resume MUST focus on “recency and relevancy.” Keeping those ancient jobs isn’t doing you any favors. We think employers should care, but when they have a need, they often can’t look beyond their initial job requirements. We need to consider resume length because hiring managers, recruiters, etc., don’t make time to learn EVERYTHING about you. Systems there were supposed to reduce time spent recruiting and hiring, such as ATS, save time on one side of the equation and are time-sucks on the other. Beyond ATS, getting a recruiter or hiring manager to READ a condensed two-page resume is a huge challenge. They’re known to SKIM … so presenting them with a four-page resume can set you up with an unnecessary hurdle.
WHAT THE CLIENT DIDN’T UNDERSTAND: The extensive resume length told today’s hiring managers MORE than they needed to know. Not removing old and irrelevant career details from your resume can often work against you because your resume should be more about QUALITY and less about quantity.
I’ve seen professionals who needed a degree from the “School of Hard Knocks” to open their minds and eyes to streamlined resume-writing strategies.
Want to avoid being a resume hoarder of sorts?
Here are 5 ways to rid your resume of unnecessary accumulation:
1. Spend just as much time chopping content as you write it.
Examining your oldest job roles is the easiest place to start with this strategy. Get rid of anything from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s! While you’re at it, consider what’s viable before 2010. Nothing? Get rid of that too.
Don’t keep job titles and roles because they are essential to you. Keep them because they are important to those who read your resume and consider you for future employment.
Getting rid of old jobs is the easy part.
What do you do with irrelevant job roles? Deflating those and ramping up your other (relevant) job roles are the best approach in many cases. Like anything else, you’ll want to identify your best career features and play to those strengths.
Irrelevant job roles don’t mean irrelevant job skills. There are often transferrable skills from one position to the next, so take a deep dive into your roles and uncover relevant transferrable skills worth giving the most “real estate” to.
Okay, now what do you do with things like short-term jobs?
Unfortunately, there’s not always a perfect strategy for handling those. Sometimes, I can chop those out and act like they never existed, especially when those are back in someone’s career. However, when you have a short-term position from less than 5 years ago – just as an example – ignorance isn’t always plausible or possible. So, you might be stuck with it.
2. Don’t “vomit” an intro/summary into your resume.
Your resume’s intro SHOULD NOT be a compilation of everything you’ve eaten (err, done). Focus only on what’s essential to your career move NOW – include no more, no less.
Want some examples of what I’m talking about?
Well, for starters, don’t include software and soft skills in your intro statement. This happens far too often IMHO! Telling prospective employers about your experience with MS Word or Salesforce is hardly news.
Think about your ideal next career move and focus on the right skills. For example, don’t include support-level responsibilities in your resume summary if you’re a manager. Talk about a mismatch! Instead, write a resume summary that focuses on 3 prime areas:
- Your skills most relevant to employers now
- What’s unique about you – what employers won’t find in other candidates
- Your most exceptional achievements, e.g., revenue growth, cost controls, etc.
3. Recognize where you transitioned from a job to a career – rewrite and enhance your resume accordingly.
Take an unbiased look at the past 10 years in your work history and identify when your career started.
Yeah, I’m seriously not trying to trick you here. I’m betting you can look at the past few job roles you’ve held and identify the EXACT job title and employer where you hit your stride.
Am I right?
Once you recognize where and when you pivoted, it’s time to identify what additional jobs in your resume may be dead weight.
Does this mean you may end up with a resume that doesn’t cover the traditional 10-year time? Yes, that’s precisely what it means. The 10-year rule is just that. Nothing more than a rule that can be followed or ignored depending on the situation.
4. Is outdated and off-point training costing you?
Listing outdated and off-point training in your resume is equivalent to you wearing an old brown polyester suit to a job interview. Big, big turn-off!
You might not realize this, but you’re in a competition. You must acquire new training to remain competitive. Fail to do so, and you may lose out on prime job opportunities.
Once you’ve eliminated all the old training and certifications (e.g., IT certifications) from your resume, it’s time to fill that space with new ones.
Unlike my other recommendations, it’s okay to hoard continuing formal and informal education as long as it remains recent and relevant.
5. Memberships, executive board participation, and love of dogs.
Being a member of something doesn’t mean much. Anyone can write a check or meet the minimum requirements for membership.
You MUST be involved with your memberships. For example, become a member of an industry organization ONLY if it advances your career, e.g., continuing education, gaining knowledge of compliance issues, etc. When you do, you could put something similar to this in your resume:
Member, Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM)
Training: Attend monthly webinars on People Strategies, HR Compliance, Labor Market Trends, Talent Acquisition, Employee/Team Performance Management, State Law, and Professional Development
Don’t benefit from your memberships? If not, leave memberships off your resume.
Lapsed executive board participation can look great in a resume, yet only when the right circumstances are present. Don’t presume that because you once served as a board member of the local Humane Society, you’ll get preferential hiring from fellow animal lovers. It’s unlikely.
You might wonder, “Well, the hiring manager may call me for an interview because she’s a dog lover too?” Sure, maybe. But couldn’t that “bite” you too? Perhaps the hiring manager was once bitten by a dog? Maybe she’s a cat-loving hiring manager?
Critique every millimeter of your resume to dejunk the content and avoid being a resume hoarder of sorts. Anytime you include outdated, unnecessary, and irrelevant details in your resume, you’re essentially adding unhealthy weight to your resume.
So, ditch those outdated job roles. Get rid of those basic, unnecessary details from your resume summary. Replace outdated training and certifications with fresh education, making you more competitive in this tough job market. Eliminated memberships and executive board involvement that means more to you than hiring managers.
Remember, the resume is NOT ABOUT YOU. Your resume is about the employer and how you can help them meet their goals.