If you asked your parents how to write a resume, they would probably tell you to list every job you’d ever had, and then detail everything you’d done at those jobs. Twenty-five years ago, when people mailed their typed resumes to the person to whom they’d be reporting, that was sound advice. In today’s market, wasting space on your resume with irrelevant information is a quick way to land it in the rejection pile.
If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, chances are good that you’ve had at least one job that wasn’t relevant to your overall career path. For instance, someone looking to hire you for corporate communications really won’t be interested in the job you had serving milkshakes at the Dairy Queen. So don’t waste space on your resume talking about it.
Let’s say that you’ve been in the workforce for 20 years, but you’ve only spent 10 of those years in related professional roles. It’s okay to include a line on your resume that says, “Ten years previous experience providing outstanding customer service in the retail and restaurant industries.” It won’t matter to a finance company when or where you held those positions, but it lets them know that you understand how service businesses work in the real world.
The next time you encounter a recruiter, ask him how much time he typically spends reviewing a resume. Most will tell you a number between five and 30 seconds. That’s right: the same document into which you invest hours of your time receives just half-a-minute of his. That’s why it’s critical that your resume contain only accomplishments relevant to the job you’re seeking. If you’re applying for that corporate communications gig, you don’t want the hiring manager’s eyes to fall on “Dairy Queen” rather than “published company newsletter”.
Forget what your parents told you. In today’s job market, a resume doesn’t have to—and generally shouldn’t—include every single thing you’ve done at your past jobs. Tailor each resume to highlight your most relevant accomplishments, and employers may actually spend a little more time reading it over.
Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, speaker and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast. She creates high-impact, best-in-class, resumes and cover letters that transform job searches into interviews and ultimately job offers. For more information about professional resume writing or to read more career and job search related articles visit http://www.greatresumesfast.com or call 1.800.991.5187.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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