I'm looking at a resume for a director-level position. The candidate - Jim - has a great background. He has had an outstanding education that includes continued professional development, great work experience, and leadership roles in professional associations. The problem is, so do 20 other candidates. So how do I weed it down to the 10 that I have time to call this week?
I turn to page three of Jim's resume. (Note to self: First red flag? There is a page 3.)
The heading on page 3 is "Lifetime Accomplishments." I admit, I gave Jim more than the usual 45 seconds as I perused his accomplishments with mild interest - home restoration, writing, community service, etc.
The list concluded with "raising two children who are the smartest, most creative kids in the world." (Note to self: Second red flag? Jim doesn't understand the purpose of a resume.)
I actually like it that Jim is an enthusiastic parent. And had this come up in casual conversation during the interview, it may have worked in his favor. But on the resume, as a first contact with a company, this statement landed Jim in the "no go" pile. Why?
- First, he's wrong. I am already raising the two most creative, intelligent kids in the world, so I take issue with his claim. ;-)
- Second, Jim has no idea who is going to screen his resume. What if his resume was screened by someone who was child-free by choice and resented all the hype about family-friendly workplaces? "That's okay," you may be thinking,"he wouldn't want to work at a company that resented parents." True. But what if his resume was screened by someone at a very family-friendly company who desperately desired children but was having infertility issues? I've known of instances where good people have been screened out for this very reason.
- Third - and most importantly - whether you view the enthusiastic parenting statement as positive or negative, it takes up space without contributing any more information about whether he can do the job.
The purpose of a resume is to convince a company that you have the potential to be a great employee for them and to get you in to an interview situation. Once you are in the interview situation, then you can share more about yourself and observe whether you think there's a fit with the culture. You can always decide not to accept a position if you think the company won't appreciate you as a complete person with a full life, but you will never get the offer if you don't get in to the interview in the first place.
Lea over at People @ Work has a great posting on why Less is More when writing your resume. She advises:
"Think of the resume as a tool that provides enough information for a recruiter or hiring manager to want to schedule an interview to learn more about you. Keeping the resume brief gives you the opportunity to talk about the details of your experience during the interview, when you can connect your experience with the duties and description of the job you're applying for. That makes for a more effective interview -- which makes you a stronger candidate for the job."
Check out the full posting here. Next, if you've been struggling in your job search, go back and look at your resume. See if there is any extraneous detail that distracts from your great qualifications for the job at hand. Try trimming down your resume to focus on the position and the company's needs and see if you don't get better results!