They say a great sculptor can “see” the finished work within a mass of clay- and knows exactly what to remove to get there. This same idea, of ADDING VALUE through removing, is very important to understand about your resume. No, you will not get extra points for being comprehensive. On the contrary- share too much, and you may very well find yourself disqualified.
So what’s the right balance to strike? And just as importantly, are you falling victim to revealing too much within the resume? Here are 3 big clues:
Clue #1: You’re Finding It Very Difficult to Foster the Correct First Impression
Let’s say you’re a high-level Corporate Strategist and Business Development expert who pivoted away from “hardline” IT roles several years ago. If every position on your resume has EQUAL IMPORTANCE, and is given equal space, can you really blame someone for mistaking you as an IT professional who just lacks a clear sense of direction in their career?
Be absolutely RUTHLESS about only highlighting those roles which are DIRECTLY RELEVANT to what you’re after. In other words, the Corporate Strategy and Business Development roles you’ve held should take up the majority of the space within the resume’s “Professional Experience” section, with any IT-related details consolidated within a succinct “Prior Experience” section or similar.
Remember: equal importance is just another way of saying “lack of a clear POV” and that’s a resume killer!
Clue #2: The Details You’ve Included Raise Non-Productive Questions.
Let’s say you include a 1-2 line bullet point that briefly dives into a major accomplishment, but doesn’t answer every detail. That’s a great example of raising PRODUCTIVE questions, because you can naturally expand upon this during an interview (and make yourself look like a “rock star” in the process!)
Now let’s say you include verbiage about a recent layoff, or a project that was canceled halfway through, or a quasi-demotion. In an attempt to be “honest” what you’ve really done is UNDERCUT the overall credibility of the resume, and potentially raised a bunch of non-productive follow-up questions….none of which will help your chances as a candidate.
Remove any and all information that may possibly be construed in a negative light. If you’re dealing with a key issue like a multi-month work gap that needs to be addressed, do so succinctly and OWN THE SITUATION. If you took some training, list it. If you took the time to raise your children or tried to get a start-up off the ground, list it. Just make sure that the follow-up questions are going to be conducive to your goals!
Also read: The Real Reason You’re Not Getting Hired
Clue #3: Positives Read As Negatives.
Having a long track record at one company is a good thing, right? Being able to say that you bring over 2 decades of expertise into action is a good thing, right?
So…why are they being raised as potential vulnerabilities during the hiring process?
The answer lies in how you’re presenting the information.
Every great career has a NARRATIVE, a strategic build, to it. It’s not just a bunch of random positions cobbled together into something masquerading as a “career.” With that in mind, ask yourself the following when it comes to your work history:
–How do each of these roles build on top of one another?
-What did I do that was NEW or meaningfully different in scope, and how does it relate to my career goals?
Start every major position with a few lines which highlight the BOTTOM-LINE CHANGE you made happen (ex. Defined product strategy and oversaw a global launch capturing over $22M in new revenues inside of 12 months, establishing COMPANY XYZ as a competitive player in the nutraceuticals market.”)
Next, start adding BULLETED ACCOMPLISHMENTS which support the bottom-line change, and add context and value into the equation. Did you bring data analytics into play? Did you creatively leverage your former background in Advertising to give a start-up an edge on the digital marketing and branding front? This two-pronged structure can do magic in terms of positioning you correctly…AND alerting you to potential “overshares” which do nothing to advance your interests.
Remember: anything unusual or outside of the “norm” can EITHER be perceived as a negative or a positive by employers. What you choose to reveal, and what you leave off can be the deciding factor, so don’t skip this important step!