5 Resume Pruning Tips Every Applicant Needs to Know
When you are approaching the end of your college run, the resume becomes a big concern as you venture out into the workforce and attempt to stake your claim on a great job. However, many applicants make the mistake of throwing everything at an employer but the kitchen sink.
They are so eager to impress that they end up peppering in completely useless information thus complicating the hiring manager’s ease of review.
When you’re dealing with dozens, if not hundreds, of other competing candidates, this is a huge mistake. Hiring managers and recruiters are looking for any way they can to simplify their search and by seeing a resume that tries too hard without focusing solely on substance, they have a good excuse for moving onto the next candidate.
Don’t be “that guy” or “that girl.” Instead employ these 5 resume pruning tips to make yours a memorable one.
1. Get Organized by Keeping a Master List.
Please don’t misunderstand what we’re saying by coining the term “resume pruning.” We’re not saying that you should stop keeping up with every little thing. We’re just saying that you should be smart about how you do it.
We recommend keeping a resume master list complete with categorized skill sets and work experiences. Why do that when your goal is to winnow your resume to only the most relevant? Because you never know what a future job application might require. Your time as a journalist on the student newspaper may not be relevant to that teaching job you’re applying for, but it could be relevant to a research assistant or reporter position that you apply to 5 years from now.
By having a master list on hand, you can cull through your past education/work experiences and achievements and produce what is specifically relevant to the needs of a position.
2. Adopt a ‘Just the Facts’ Approach to the Resume You Hand In.
Using your master list, cull down your application resume into a “just the facts” version. What we usually do is start by creating a duplicate of our master list and deleting all the things we immediately know will not be relevant to what the job post is asking for.
From there, you should be left with the things that are definitely relevant and the things that could be relevant on further consideration. From here you can group all of the relevant information together and isolate the might-be-relevant.
Then, go through each item of what you’re left with and ask, “How would/could I use this to meet the demands they’re asking for in this position?” If you’re having to stretch too much to find a connection, delete it. If you can tie it in to what the skills required are, then by all means include it.
By adopting a “just the facts” version of your resume, try to keep the entire thing to the front of one page, even if you have to make a few tweaks to font selection and size.
3. Have a ‘Discard’ Pile.
Even though you may be keeping up with everything on a resume master list, there will come a time when certain skill sets are no longer relevant, nor will they ever be. For example, your prowess with Word 98 probably won’t do much to impress a hiring manager.
Take some time as you’re going back over your resume master list and discard those outdated bits that will no longer come into play with the modern workforce.
We choose to delete the irrelevant stuff altogether, but for archival purposes, you may want to group all of that stuff under one section called “Discard” or “Discard Pile.”
4. Update Your Resume Master List Frequently.
In order to stay on top of those irrelevant skill sets, you will want to come back to your resume master list frequently. After all, technology changes a great deal faster now than it did 20 years ago. You may know how to use certain relevant things today — Facebook, SnapChat, etc. — that were either nonexistent or in their infancy 10 years ago.
By coming back to your master list once every three to six months, you can add potentially relevant knowledge and skills to make your resume stand out should a future job posting ask for them. And it’s important that you do so. You would be shocked about all of the job requirements that have come down over the years that we haven’t even realized having. It’s because we didn’t update our information frequently enough. Don’t make that same mistake, or it could cost you some real opportunities!
5. Base Your Application Resume on the Job Posting Itself.
Hiring managers hate to get generic resumes that could literally be used for any position. While it may take a little extra work to tailor yours specifically to the demands of the job, not doing so is as good as not applying at all.
We recommend breaking down a job post that interests you line by line and focusing on the job skills and requirements section as well as education/work experience. Read it thoroughly and see how what you have on your resume ties into each one.
If it doesn’t, cut it.
Getting a job in today’s world is as competitive as it’s ever been, and with the job market an increasingly global one, that is not going to change any time soon. If you want to stand out, you need to have a resume that appeals to the demands of a position and gives a hiring manager or recruiter instant clarity as to whether you are worth taking to the next step in the process. To accomplish this, your ability to know what to include and what not to include is as important as ever. Any questions that you have about resume development? Share yours in the comments section below.
[Image via MLive]