6 Ways to Declutter Your Resume
Whether you are starting to write a resume on a fresh sheet of paper or building off of one that you already have, make sure the information you present is targeted and concise to attract employers’ interest.
It’s not just about how a resume looks, but the information you present that can make a resume come off as cluttered and simply too difficult to motivate someone to carefully review. You have to ask when writing a resume if the information is relevant and presented in the most concise way.
It is especially easy to clutter a resume if you are a career changer. When you are searching for a new job and decide to add your latest experiences to an existing resume, you can end up with a hodgepodge of information that doesn’t relay an effective message to potential employers. The information on your resume may have worked well for your previous career, but you really need to repurpose the information to appeal to the employers in the new career field you are looking in to.
Here are some ways to ensure your resume content is polished and clear of clutter:
- Define the industry and career you are seeking a job in.
People often think that if information about experience is broadened that it can come off as more relevant and increase your chances, but all that does for a resume is dilute the core and critically important information. You are better off consolidating relevant information on a resume, and if necessary, creating another version of a resume that speaks directly to the other industries and/or career desired.
- Consolidate the information in your opening summary.
Regardless of whether you choose to have a “Profile Summary” or “Highlights” section at the top of your resume, make sure it gives sufficient information to present your professional background, knowledge and experience without throwing out too much on the table. Also, do not waste time presenting what you desire. Instead, focus on what you have to offer. The opening summary is meant to present enough information to entice an employer to want to continue. It is not meant for you to finalize the sale in that one section, so don’t feel as though you need to present all fine details. Get this section punchy enough to give a solid representation in a few seconds of the skills and experience you have to offer.
- Evaluate your work history.
It is especially critical for the career changer to evaluate what information to present as work history on a resume. Typically, work history is presented in chronological order, from the most recent to the past, but it may not be appropriate to include every single experience you have hand since high school. For career changers, keep in mind that the employer only cares about relevant experience and strengths for the job applied for. Present information that shows transferable experience and skills. It may not matter that you won 99 percent of legal cases in your career as a trial lawyer if you are now applying for a job as an emergency room nurse. Also, if you have more than 10 years of experience, focus on highlighting the most recent relevant experience. Employers care about what you have done most recently. What you did 20 years ago will bear less weight in an employer’s decision.
- Keep only quantifiable statements.
Present selling points that demonstrate quantifiable results. If there are statements in your resume that don’t sell or demonstrate results, they are simply wasting space. Remove it. It’s not going to bring value to an employer that reviews your resume.
- Present essential educational and technical information/skills.
Educational information and technical skills are important selling points on a resume for the recent graduate who does not have much else to show in terms of work experience. However, it becomes much less important to an employer for candidates with several years of professional experience. Focus these sections of the resume only on the critical information, such as college/university attended and degree obtained. Technical information should only be included if you have functional knowledge that is unique for the job. Don’t bother wasting space noting you are proficient with Excel, PowerPoint or other basic software programs that today’s employers expect all candidates to know.
- Eliminate old school resume rules.
Forget about starting your resume with an “Objective” statement. Employers do not want to know about what you are interested in. They want to know what you have to offer. The old school resume may also include a fax number and a note at the end on “References available upon request.” If you still have such information on your resume, it will only make it appear cluttered and outdated.
Keep in mind that resumes typical run one to two-pages long, at most. Utilize white space to help make your resume easier on the eyes and carefully evaluate the content. Limit it to only information that will present to an employer your experiences, strengths and accomplishments that can directly apply to the job and position you desire.