Writing the Perfect Resume

A recruiter pal was recently grumbling about a resume she'd received: "I don't need to know that the candidate has a pet Schnauzer named Miss Sparkles," my chum said. "Unless she's applying for a job at the Humane Society, it's irrelevant."

This isn't an isolated incident. In the past week, I've collected countless tales from recruiters, hiring managers and resume consultants about North American job seekers who include far too much personal information on their C.V., from their age, height, religion, wedding anniversary and number of years sober to the fact that they enjoy sleeping, goofing off on Facebook and chasing UFOs in their spare time.

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"When they say recruiters look at a resume for 10 seconds, that's true," said Kristen Fife, a recruiter in Seattle who wades through hundreds of resumes a week. "If you're looking to hire somebody to do something, you don't really care that their favorite color is green or that they like to go to monster truck rallies on the weekends. And yes, that was on a resume I saw today."

Mentioning your favorite color or your pet's name on a resume may sound harmless enough -- after all, companies want to hire people, not automatons. But oversharing on your C.V. can wind up biting you on the backside. To a rushed recruiter or hurried hiring manager, a resume riddled with TMI is not only wildly impertinent, it's a glaring red flag.

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"Job seekers get all kinds of advice to be different and stand out, and for some people, that means adding information that they think will make them unforgettable," said career coach Debra Yergen, author of "Creating Job Security Resource Guide". "They will be unforgettable, but for all the wrong reasons."

So herewith, the most common resume overshares -- and why you should avoid making the same mistakes:

The Family Guy or Gal

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Your resume is not a cocktail party. Thus, those you send it to do not need -- or want -- to know the names, ages, birthdates and special talents of your children. Nor do they want to read a detailed description of your loving marriage and zest for family life. They just want to know what you can do for their company and what employment experience you have to prove it.

You may be the proud father of three red-headed triplets who all made the honor roll this year. But unless you're applying for a job with the National Honor Society, save such family chit-chat for the job interview.

The Underachiever

No doubt your parents were proud of your childhood awards and extracurricular activities. It is, however, time to move on. At best, employers might find accomplishments like making Eagle Scout or setting a record for the most Girl Scout cookies sold in your troop an odd addition to your resume. At worst, they might think you have some growing up to do.

Not every hobby or interest you've entertained since reaching adulthood warrants a resume mention either. Your fraternity brothers may have been impressed by your ability to sleep for 18 hours straight or ingest 17 hotdogs in one sitting, but most managers won't be. Unless you're applying for a job in a creative or offbeat field, save the extra dash of personality for the job interview (though you still may not want to mention your love of naps or beer bongs).

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