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At least once a week I hear, “I have way too much experience to fit all of it on a one-page résumé.” I have to disagree. I believe someone with 1-50 years of work experience can still consolidate it to one page. I think what people struggle with is they forget why they are creating a résumé.
That is really where I would like to start this conversation. What is the purpose of a résumé? You may have a long list of why you need a résumé, but I believe the purpose of a résumé is simple – to get you an interview. I think people lose this focus and think a résumé needs to include everything they have ever done. I want to assure you the only reason you need a résumé is to get you in front of a hiring manager. That’s why it is not critical to include all your work experience in a résumé. You want to get the main points of your experience and education across and get them excited about talking to you. So how do you do that?
The first thing to keep in mind is that you want to get noticed. A potential employer may get 10-200 résumés, and you need yours to stand out. Here are a few ideas to ensure you are remembered after they review your résumé. The résumé is your showcase and serves as your representative when you can’t be there. Stick to the highlights and make sure it remains results oriented. Focus on the points that show a potential employer why they would benefit from hiring you. Stay focused on results that can be expressed in dollars, percentages and numbers. The potential employer wants to see if you will be worth the money and hopefully even a little more.
Now let’s talk about what to eliminate. Leave off all the extras. What I mean by extras are things like objectives, references and any personal information. You are giving a snapshot of the professional you and your work history. If your résumé is good enough to get you in the door, you can add all the extras at the time of your interview.
I am often asked, “How far back should I go on my résumé?” I recommend you include the past 10 years. You can go back farther if you have room and it is relevant; otherwise leave it off. I realize for some of us we have a lot more then 10 years, but most employers are only interested in your recent accomplishments.
Finally, make sure your résumé is picture perfect – no typos, no misspelled words, no spacing errors, etc. People know this represents you at your best, so make sure it is. I recommend having at least three different people review it. Make sure it is easy to read. I have found a bulleted format to be the most effective. Make sure you leave off any buzz words or industry lingo. That is a biggie since your goal is to get an interview. You don’t want to confuse them with terms that may be company or industry specific. That is another reason I recommend having multiple people review your résumé so they can help catch words you would not realize were buzz words.
Don’t get worked up putting your résumé together. Just focus on the reason you need the résumé – to get in front of your new employer.