Selling yourself and your services to a company is all about packaging.
How you package yourself on a professional resume document makes or breaks
your chances for an interview. You are not trying to get the job with your
resume, but you are trying to open up a door that allows you to present
yourself in person. Many job seekers know that if they could just get in
front of a hiring manager or employer that they would be able to show why
they are the person for the job. Unfortunately, many never get that
chance, because of their resume.
It is not a lack of jobs, mean hiring managers, or any of the other
reasons people come up with as to why things are not working the way they
would like. It is usually your resume presentation, or lack there of,
that is hindering you from getting to the next step. Each individual
resume and situation is different, which is partially why resume
templates, examples, and samples are of no real value. You need to ensure
that your resume accentuates your work skills, experience, education, and
personal skills and attributes. Your resume must sell.
Irrelevant or Questionable Job Experience: Be wary of including experience that may be considered irrelevant to the position you are seeking. Certain unrelated experience may be useful, but it is a fine line as to what you should include.
How Far Back to Go with Work Experience: Know when to say when, even if you believe it is relevant. Hiring managers are only interested in what you have accomplished in a certain time period. You are not helping your cause if you go back too little or too far. There is a correct timeframe based on your employment history and the type of job you are seeking.
Inaccurate or Misleading Information: A resume should obviously not include inflated titles or inaccurate dates to cover for gaps in employment. Ultimately, this will be discovered. There is a way to professionally make titles be more helpful and descriptive without going over the line.
Why You are No Longer at a Company: This is another fine line that can help or hurt. In general, you do not include reasons why you left a company, regardless if you resigned or were laid off. Get the interview first and the reasons can be discussed at that time.
E-Mail Addresses: E-mail addresses that are offensive or silly do not belong on anything professional. Nobody is judging your creativity or uniqueness by your e-mail. You can sign up for a new professional looking email in minutes.
Social Security or Green Card Number: You should not include these on your resume and be wary of putting them on job applications unless specifically asked. As an HR veteran, I have seen numerous instances where applications do not get filed appropriately and securely. This is highly unacceptable but it happens.
Birth date or Age: You are trying to get an interview, not write your wiki page or an autobiography. It is not legal, like speeding, but age can influence for some positions, including being too young.
Gender or Sex: Do not include Male or Female or Yes on your resume. Also, use discretion when including professional associations that clearly spell out your gender. Ensure that the association adds actual value to your resume and is not just filler.
Race, Nationality, or Country of Birth: This may confuse use as being something that may actually help you since you are often asked to volunteer this information. They are requesting this information for an entirely different reason. Leave it off since it has no bearing on your ability to perform a job.
Religion: Do not include any religious affiliations, religious interest groups, or list any organizations that are affiliated with religious associations. This information is not relevant or helpful to a potential employer. Remember, you are seeking employment.
Sexual Orientation: Sexual preference has no relevance on how well you can perform specific job duties. Employers are not allowed to make a decision based on this information anyway, so leave it out.
Marital Status or Family Information: Do not include personal information such marital status, number of children, mother's maiden name, first pet's name, etc. Only personal information that is specifically related to the job should be included.
Hobbies or Personal Interests: Some hiring managers may like to see that interviewees are active in the community or a relevant business organization. However, no hiring manager really wants to know that a job applicant enjoys skiing, hiking, boating, wine tasting, etc. The odds of having a mutual interest with the person reviewing your resume is low.
A Picture: This is unfortunately becoming more common, but do not do it. It has been reported that some companies will not even consider a resume submitted with a picture to ensure compliance with EOE rules and regulations.
Physical Traits, Attributes, or Dimensions: Just as you should not submit a photograph of yourself, it is also best to leave out physical characteristics such as height, weight, slim, fit, etc.
Political Affiliations: Do not include any political affiliations, political interest groups, or list any organizations that are affiliated with political associations.
Medical Conditions or Disabilities: An employer does not have the legal right to know your health status or disabilities. The only related questions an employer can ask must be directly related to your ability to perform the required job duties.
Non-Professional Organizations or Associations: Do not include organizations or associations that are non-professional in nature. Softball teams, Texas hold'em trophies, and BBQ circuit championships all sound fun, but have no bearing in the workplace.
Charities You Support: It is best to omit this information altogether from your resume. The only exception to this might be if you donate your time in a professional capacity. However, be wise about what you list.
GPA: Unless you are fresh out of college or a trade school and looking for your first job, do not bother including your GPA. Don't include low ones ever.
Criminal Record: While it is generally best to be honest on a resume, including any mention of a criminal record or your parole status is not advisable.
Business and Personal References: In general, leave off your personal or business reference list from you resume. Have the list updated and prepared, however, when you go to an interview.
Do yourself a huge favor and have your resume professionally upgraded and polished. There is only an upside in doing so, and the investment is minimal compared to the potential return.