Original article, published in the Tampa Bay Times
You put what on your resume?
The purpose of a resume is pretty cut and dry: to exploit your professional background and skills to land yourself a new opportunity. As someone who works for a staffing agency, I have seen some of the best and the worst resumes. In a lot of cases, the bad resumes could have been great, there was just way too much information there. Make sure that you’re avoiding these mistakes to keep yours from being overlooked.
This happens much too often. Candidates introduce themselves in the way that they should for an introduction of a cover letter. This ends up taking space that should have been for skills, experience, education, literally anything other than an introductory paragraph. If you feel like you need to formally present yourself to the company to clarify the type of candidate you are, then create a separate document and write a cover letter, but do not let this interfere with the content on your resume. Write your resume as a summary, not as a conversation with the person reading it.
Adding a selfie.
Unless specifically asked to do so, do not, by any means, ever, add a photo of yourself to your resume. While you could easily make the photo small to fit in the contact information portion of the resume, reviewing a resume with a picture of the candidate on it is wildly uncomfortable. You are trying to sell your professional experience, not your personal appearance. You can focus on that aspect when the company calls you to schedule an interview. Until then, nix the selfie.
Including a full page of references.
Most of the time, having a list of professional references is a necessity when going through the hiring process, but including this list as part of your resume is not the way to go. Not only will it take up valuable space that should be used for your qualifications, there are several other reasons why you shouldn’t do this. One reason: if your resume is on a public site, and your references contact info is included, you have just opened the door for them to receive solicitation. Another reason: your potential employer could contact them at any time. If you keep their information private until asked to provide this list, you can calculate when your references should receive a call and give them a heads up.
Creating a 10-page resume.
The effort is appreciated that you’re willing to spend the time to make a detailed resume, but it is extremely rare that an employer will read about your experience past the second page. Resume means “summary”, therefore, summarize your experience highlighting major responsibilities and accomplishments you have made. If you feel like it’s important for the company to know every project you’ve worked on, include something like “Project List Available Upon Request” at the end of your resume. The majority of the time, creating an extensive and long resume ends up being a wasted effort.
The list of things to do and not do while creating a resume is infinite. Start by reminding yourself what the purpose of a resume is. Make sure you know the difference between a cover letter and a resume, don’t add a self-portrait, leave the references off for now, and keep the length at a maximum of two pages. It doesn’t matter how you look or how exceptionally you can write an opening statement, it’s about your professional experience and what you have accomplished as a professional. Keep it short and concise, and save your references from unsolicited calls unless you’re ready to find yourself new ones.