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Monday, January 23, 2006
Please Be Brief
A common mistake made on resumes is the inclusion of information that has no impact on the current career goal. Many people get really wordy and verbose in their job descriptions in attempt to either write in high-level language or to cover every possible question an employer might have. The result is a document that is long, unwieldy and doesn’t tell the employer the information he needs to know.

The old KISS rule does apply in resume writing—keep it simple, stupid. It is important to use industry buzzwords, quantitative information, concrete accomplishments, and tight writing. Writing in a style more like a post-graduate thesis can kill a resume. Have you ever read an article in a professional journal or during research on a topic and realized you didn’t understand the article? You don’t want your resume to fall in that category. It needs to be clear, exact, hard-hitting, and to-the-point. Get wordy trying to make your resume “sound good” and you’ll lose your reader.

Good resume writing is just that – good writing. A good writer always follows some basic rules: consider the audience, write to the reader’s needs, be brief but clear, and eliminate unnecessary information. Write with a strategy in mind rather than a mission to cover everything. Consider what to include and what not to include by asking yourself if the information in question would probably (not just possibly) contribute to a call for an interview.

The most common unnecessary information we see in self-written resumes is the detailing of too much work history. In general, employers are interested in the details of the last ten years of employment. Employers are concerned about the challenges they face today and tomorrow. They are not interested in your job description in a job that is fifteen to twenty years old. The challenges you faced, the technology you used, and the techniques you used in 1989 are not what employers face today. The challenges you’ve overcome in the past ten years will more resemble what the employer is facing now. You waste space by including information on old jobs.

But what if…I know – what if your old experience shows progression or might have some possible relation to your current goal. You can show progression by simply listing the employer, job title, and dates without wasting time on description or details. If you have something in the distant past that is relevant today, you must figure out a way to make that outshine the recent experience of your competitors. That can be difficult but can usually be achieved through some very strategic writing and positioning of information in the document.

Employers are busy. They want to be able to look at your resume and tell within a few seconds if you are someone they want to talk with further. If you load your resume with tons of information, they can’t accomplish that task and will simply go on to the next resume. More is not necessarily good. Trying to cover everything is not good. Determine what your focus will be and then select achievements and details that will support that focus. Don’t just dump information in there for a “shotgun effect” hoping that something will catch the employer’s eye. All you do is weaken the resume and make it ineffective.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 /


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