Sunday, July 5, 2015


I think of doing a resume when job hunting to be similar to writing a synopsis of your story before writing the manuscript…a dreaded task that no one wants to do but it's necessary.

With a synopsis you need to convey the storyline, who your main characters are, their conflict and how it's resolved, and the emotion that fits into the story—providing an editor with the feel of your story as well as the events that take place. And the catch that makes it a daunting task? Trying to fit all that into the very limited number of pages as set forth by the publisher without it reading like an impersonal listing of items.

A similar problem exists when putting together a resume. I've heard it said that a resume should never be more than one page long, therefore brevity is a must. But on the other hand, you need to provide a prospective employer with a clear picture of your qualifications and experience.

So, what do you put in and what do you leave out?

I recently came across a list of 5 things you should never put on your resume which I'd like to share with you.

Your Age:
People doing the hiring need to know what you can bring to the company rather than how many years you've been alive. I think it's actually illegal in the U.S. for a prospective employer to ask the age of anyone 18 years of age up to the retirement age. And along with listing your specific age goes the following no-no items:
          Listing professional experience more than 15 years old.
          Providing an exact number of years of professional experience in your opening summary. For example: 'senior accountant with more than 25 years of experience in...'  According to experts, this type of data invites age discrimination. And don't forget that age bias goes both ways—a resume that says you are too young for the job isn't to your advantage, either.

Listing Tasks or Duties Without Results:
Your resume needs to go beyond listing the jobs you've done: It must convey what you've accomplished on those jobs. Many applicants miss this key distinction. Saying you reorganized the filing system conveys the task but that's all. But saying that you increased office productivity 20% by reorganizing the filing system conveys both the task an positive results.

Explanations of Anything Negative
A resume needs to present a positive picture of the person applying for a job. If there's something negative that needs explaining, do it in person at your interview rather than in your resume.

A List of Every Job You've Ever Held
Prospective employers don't want to know about that summer you had—unless you're applying for a job where that specific experience is relevant. List the work you've done in the past 10 to 15 years that tells an employer you're a skilled, reliable fit for the job. However (tricky line here), employers don't want to see gaps in your employment history so you need to account for that time.

Personal Details
Employers usually don't care about your marital status, race, sexual orientation or hobbies, unless they are somehow relevant to the job. Including personal data is a novice mistake. Your resume is just the first step in securing a job. At this phase of the process, those personal details aren't necessary. Today's job seeker usually sends a resume via email and that means there's no way to know exactly who or how many people will see it. With identity theft becoming a larger and larger problem, you need to protect your personal information from anonymous eyes.

And here's a few more quick tips:
Make sure your resume is free of typos, grammar goofs and factual errors (like getting a company's name wrong).
Don't list your salary history unless the employer demands it.
Don't worry about providing references on your resume. You can do that in a separate document.

Good luck on the job hunt.


Ashantay said...

I worked in HR for years (no, I won't list the number), and this list is right on target! HR folks are busy and appreciate creative brevity along with a tailored approach. Don't use a one size fits all approach, read the advertisement, then make sure your resume portrays just how you are the best person for that opening. I know some folks say to do that in the cover letter, but I'll be honest and say that I usually skipped the sales pitch and went right for the meat. Volunteer work counts if you've made an impact!

Debra Doggett said...

Good info and perfect timing for me as I am putting together a new resume. Thanks!

Marlow Kelly said...

I used to write resumes for a living, and all this information is great.
I would list your qualifications and professional achievements at the beginning of the resume. You have to assume your prospective employer is too busy to read the whole thing.
And Samantha you're right about listing experience no more than 15 years old. In fact, I often used the phrase 'Over ten years experience in...'
I mean if you can't master a job in ten years then you should chose another field.
great advice.

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: Good point about paying attention to the particulars of the want ad and tailor your resume to those specifics rather than assume one generic resume fits all situations.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Debra: Glad I was in time to help. Good luck with the resume and job hunt.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Marlow: You're so right about the prospective employer probably not reading the entire resume. You have to grab them up front with the important stuff to make sure they actually see it.

Thanks for your comment.