Resume Writing: What to Include and What to Skip


Resumes have changed tremendously over the last ten years. I've been writing professional resumes since 1999 and I have watched the changes influenced by new sourcing methods, social media, and technology. It's tough for job seekers who update their resume every two years (or less often) to know what to include on a resume and what to omit. Your content choices can make a difference in your job search. The following are a few tips regarding what to include and what to omit from your resume.

Three Things to Include on Every Resume

Include a profile. A profile introduces you to the reader. It also puts your entire resume into context. When writing your profile, share your top values relevant to your target job. Skip the fluffy, over-used adjectives because those phrases waste valuable real estate on your resume and don’t provide a big return.

Include a core competencies or areas of expertise section. The benefit of this section is two-fold. Many companies use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to screen candidates before a human sees the resume. This section is a great place to include your top eight or nine keywords. Secondly, when the recruiter or hiring manager reads your resume, this section serves as a quick checklist to show that you meet the major requirements.

Include major accomplishments with measured results. Many candidates will tout that they are a top revenue producer or an excellent resource manager. That candidate will make a much stronger impression if they share actual examples of accomplishments with quantified results. The facts speak for themselves. Imagine the reader saying, “Prove it!”

Three Things to Skip

Skip the personal interests that don’t relate to your career goal. If you are applying for a position at Ping, you may want to include that you are a scratch golfer and were a D1 athlete. There is a connection between your sports experience and the golf equipment company. Otherwise, that fact may not be relevant. Skip the lists of your personal interests, hobbies, and sports. Keep the resume focused on your experience, skills, and knowledge that support your goal.

Skip the controversial affiliations. Unless you are applying for a position in the field of politics, you can omit the years that you campaigned. The same applies to religious affiliations. There are also some causes that are very polarizing. In those cases, some of your readers may agree and some may be fiercely-opposed. Why risk it? Things such as marriage rights and firearm issues are best to avoid on a resume. Safe causes include organizations focused on health, feeding the hungry, youth services, or education.

Skip the early history. Early history is a relative term. For most candidates, showing ten to fifteen years of history is appropriate. Your recent history is the most relevant to the reader. Regarding education: If your degree is more than five years old, you no longer need to show the dates of graduation or the details of your academic honors, accomplishments, and campus clubs. There are exceptions. If you have taken an extended career break, you may need to show earlier history so that you meet the minimum requirement for work experience. Another exception is if you are changing occupations to what you did in the beginning of your career. If you fall in these categories, write me to ask about strategies for displaying this history.

The Bottom Line

Each person is unique based on career history, strengths, and goals. These six suggestions are guidelines. If you have a question about how to craft your resume, write me. I would be happy to evaluate your situation and share customized strategies for your resume.

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