When applying for jobs, it’s vital to do what you can to stand out from other applicants. Employers typically have a lot of candidates to consider, so it’s crucial for you to make yourself memorable and show that you’re the right fit for the job. If your resume contains unprofessional or outdated information, it is unlikely that you will be considered for the position. Your resume should be a well-organized and honest representation of your professional accomplishments.
If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your resume, here are five things you should leave off your resume.
An Objective Statement
In a resume, an objective statement is a one or two-sentence summary of why you are applying for the job. It briefly states your value to the employer, your strengths, and what kind of position you are looking for. It’s best not to include one on your resume because they are outdated and can limit your opportunities by specifying exactly what kind of job you’re seeking. Today, employers know your objective – to get a job – so there is no need to restate it.
Instead of an objective statement, include a summary statement highlighting keywords from the job description and telling employers what makes you unique. A summary is more flexible than an objective statement as it can change depending on the job you’re applying for. When targeting a position at a particular company, use industry-specific buzzwords. For example, instead of saying, “Looking for a customer service position that utilizes my customer service skills,” say, “Looking for a customer service position where my skills will be put to good use.”
Unrelated Awards and Interests
Employers want to see what you can do for them. Focus on your experience, skills, and achievements rather than irrelevant details about yourself – there will be time for small talk during the interview. Maybe you’ve been part of a club that does community service or are an avid runner. Those are great things to do, but it doesn’t mean the employer will care about that when deciding whether to hire you. If all your hobbies and interests don’t relate to the job, it’s not worth mentioning.
However, if you have an award or certification related to the job you’re applying for, it’s good to include it in your resume. For example, if you got an excellent customer service award at your previous job, it should be noted. If you have no awards or related interests in your resume, then leave them out entirely because they take up valuable space that could be used for more critical information like your job experience and qualifications.
Your resume should be easy to read. You don’t want to lose a potential employer because they couldn’t figure out how to assess the relevant information. Avoid using too many different fonts or different colors or sizes of text. You should also avoid using graphics on your resume. Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to read resumes. These systems are programmed to scan traditional resumes, making it difficult for them to read columns, fancy fonts, and graphs.
To fit all of your achievements into one document, you might choose to format your resume using columns, tables, or graphs. However, hiring managers may find highly formatted resumes challenging to read when they open them on their phones. Resumes that use tables and columns often are cut off when viewed on a small screen. Keep it simple, use a font that’s easy for people and machines to read, and use formatting sparingly. For example, only using bolding, italics, or underlines but not all three in the same sentence—you’ll improve the likelihood of hiring managers making contact with you.
Listing Irrelevant Skills
A resume’s skill list should demonstrate accomplishments, not duties and responsibilities. Hiring managers will wonder why they should hire you if they read your bullet points and don’t see results or achievements. A skill list appears like you’re going through the motions at each job instead of being a valuable asset to the company. Here is what an ineffective list might look like: research the industry trends regarding our new project, gather information from analysts, and assist with the new project.
Instead, think about what you did in each role that contributed directly to the company’s goals. For example, if you oversaw a project and ensured it was completed on time and within budget, explain how that benefitted the organization. This helps your resume stand out from others because most people list their duties and don’t explain how they actually achieved the results.
Elaborate on the Basics
Your resume is a tool to help get you an interview, but it won’t do much for you if it’s filled with unnecessary information. A skills section will help you highlight your most important and relevant skills quickly and easily. When including skills on your resume, don’t include the basics employers expect from applicants, such as “know how to use Windows and Microsoft Office.”
Rather than focusing on your skills, it’s more important to show off your abilities. Knowing how to use a spreadsheet is one thing—but can you set up graphs and equations within a spreadsheet? Those are the kind of abilities you should be highlighting.
Your resume should be a document that reflects your professional experience in a way that shows employers what you’d bring to the table if hired. Ensuring your resume is updated regularly and avoids outdated information will show that you’re informed and current. Don’t rely on the same old information – refresh your resume to improve your odds of getting hired.
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