Your Resume Part 4 – Things that waste space

I don’t know how “one-page rule” for resumes ever became a thing. The (conventional?) thinking seems to be that if your resume is too long, hiring managers will get bored or annoyed. In my years of hiring at our company, there has never been a correlation between the length of a resume we received and my boredom or annoyance.

Ask yourself this. Do you only read short books because you think you’ll be bored or annoyed by long ones? Of course not. Ultimately, quality of content is what matters. As I’ve mentioned previously, a good resume should effectively answer the following:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you want?
  3. What skills have you successfully demonstrated?
  4. What have you accomplished? (most important)

If it requires more than one page to effectively do this, then so be it. I’ve received two-page resumes that have left me wanting for more because I was really interested in the candidate. On the other hand, I’ve received (many) one-page resumes that were full of useless or redundant information. In many cases, applicants crammed everything onto one page by using an annoyingly small font size or decreasing the page margin to mere millimetres.

To respect the readers’ time and to ensure they do not get bored or annoyed, efficiently answer the above questions while avoiding any unnecessary words that do nothing but bloat a resume. Here are some examples of things that should be avoided.

Job Descriptions

Avoid providing job description of your employment history by simply listing the tasks you were assigned. For example, if you were a Barista at Starbucks, don’t simply list that you made drinks, served customers, stocked shelves and managed payments. If you’ve been to a Starbucks (even if you haven’t) you already know this. If you only lists tasks or a job description, you’re boring me. You’re also telling me that you focused only on your tasks and didn’t really care enough to think about what your previous employer was really trying to achieve.

Here’s another example:

Sales Representative, XYZ Company

  • Responsible for calls on set territory on an ongoing basis
  • Responsible for calling on janitorial, supply management and printing accounts
  • Worked closely with sales manager and customer service to maintain solid relationships with them as well as customers
  • Worked hard to help or mentor other employees.

All of the bullet points in the above example takes up space without providing any information the reader wouldn’t have already known based on the job title. Hiring managers don’t want to know what a Sales Representative does. They want to know how effective this candidate was in the role with examples of specific (preferably quantifiable) outcomes that were achieved.

In short, if the reader can google your job description, it’s not worth using the space on your resume. Rather, when providing your work history, focus on the outcomes you achieved for each of your employers and their customers.

Unverified Skills (or things that aren’t skills at all)

Many people put words like “highly organized”, “leadership”, “punctual”, “team player”, “detailed oriented”, “time management” as Skills on their resumes. At best, these are unsubstantiated claims. At worst, they tell me you don’t have any real skills but need to put some words down in this section of your resume.

Rather than the above, use the same keywords a prospective employer would use (e.g., in their job post) to describe tangible skills you have demonstrated. For example, things like “marketing strategy”, “accounts receivable”, “project management”, “CRM”, “lead generation”, “Salesforce”, “Mailchimp”, “data analysis”, etc.

Home Address

In the digital world, I don’t think it is necessary to put your home address on a resume. First, your address typically takes up one line of space at the top of your resume. That’s a few seconds of valuable reading time wasted. Second, some employers may look up where you live, measure the distance from your residence to their office and then assess whether your commute time makes you a desireable candidate.

“References available on request”

Is there ever a situation where references are NOT available on request? We always checked references, but always after an in-person interview. There’s no need to waste space on a resume with this remark.

Hopefully, these tips will help you avoid unnecessary (and potentially harmful) content on your resume. It’s not the length of your resume that matters. Ultimately, a great resume will grab the reader’s attention within the first 15 to 30 seconds and leave them wanting to learn more about you. So much so that they pick up the phone for a quick introductory interview. 

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