Here is the thing about job hunting these days: it is not enough to have the skills to actually DO the job… you need skills to GET the job! With this in mind, you really need to put your best foot forward, right? Supplying information that only serves in your favour is critical to captivating the interest of your potential employer, with the ultimate goal of securing an interview (after all, this is what your resume is designed to achieve). If you do well at interview and land yourself the coveted job offer, then your resume (along with your powers of negotiation) could be used as a tool to support you in commanding better pay and conditions then perhaps those initially offered.
Resume writing is at the intersection of art and science; a blend of sales and creative marketing of yourself, meeting with the technical know-how of building a keyword optimised document that reads equally as well to the human eye as it does to the digital program. The bones of a strong sales tool – your resume – lay in providing information that builds your case as the must have candidate, and omitting information that is irrelevant, and in some cases, damaging to your application.
Here’s my round up of 10 pieces of information you can delete off your resume today (to instantly improve it!).
- Your birthdate / age
- Your marital / family status
- Your health / smoking status
- Your photograph
If your resume lists any of these details – DELETE immediately! Professionals in charge of, or participating in, the recruitment and hiring process are bound by anti-discrimination and equal employment opportunity laws. Therefore, only information pertaining to your match to the job requirements, and assessable merits to actually DO THE JOB can and should be used to make a judgement on your application. Your sensitive information should not be used to influence your ability to do the job.
- Your address (optional)
It’s fair to say that quite a lot of personal information is divulged in a resume – your contact details, your education and work history for example, and in protecting your private and personal information further, you may consider removing your residential address from your resume. It is quite uncommon for employers to respond to applications via post nowadays. It is quite acceptable to list a suburb, state and postcode in lieu of your home address, or list instead a PO Box or alternative postal address you prefer.
- The paper round job you had when you were a kid
- High school (and primary school!) education
If you have more than 5 years post-secondary school experience, you are no longer considered a graduate and should delete those first ‘school kid’ typical jobs you had; that is to say, those after school or weekend jobs you had during school need to go! These dilute the value of ‘real world’ work experience you’ve gained. No adult should have their primary school education listed, and if you left high school 10 or more years ago, then delete this too. If you have not gained any further training or education since leaving high school – unfortunately we don’t have a selling point here – and take it off all together. Consider doing some formal training or professional development to build or update your skills and demonstrate commitment to learning to your future employers.
- Cliché phrases or claims that you cannot back up with proof
Don’t make any claims that you cannot support. Using loose flowery terms like ‘excellent communication skills’ or ‘organisational skills’ won’t carry any weight without examples to back them up. How did you demonstrate these skills? What achievements or tangible improvements have you made to your employer? Outline the situation, the action you took and the outcome, and use figures wherever possible. Employers don’t want to hire mushrooms – you need to show a potential employer that you made your workplace all the better for having you in it; be that increase in sales, improvements in processes, implementation of strategies… the list could go on and on and on. Show your future employer you can do more than what’s expected of you or just what’s listed in your position description.
- ‘References available upon request’
Trust me – if they are not listed, they will ask! Either list your references, or delete this section all together if you’d prefer to provide them when requested.
- Detailed descriptions of roles held 10 or more years ago.
It is generally accepted that the ‘shelf life’ so to speak, of skill or expertise is around 10 years (excluding university degrees). Skills or job experience exercised longer than 10 years ago could very likely be obsolete or outdated, due to passage of time in using those skills or expertise, changes and advancements in technology, new modern practices, or societal or legal changes, just to name a few. This isn’t to say we should omit that work history – instead, briefly summarise it.
There we have it! 10 unnecessary details you can remove from your resume to highlight the quality, transferability and uniqueness of your expertise, accomplishments and value offered to your future employer.
Feel free to comment any questions you may have – I’ll happily offer my thoughts.