In today’s job market, competition is fierce, with around 250 job applications received for each open position. To make matters worse, 95% of large organizations use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter through applications, quickly rejecting those deemed unqualified. Getting your resume passed the ATS system is just the first hurdle. Even if it does make it through, recruiters and hiring managers are often overwhelmed with applications and only spend an average of six seconds per resume. This means that it’s crucial to have a clear and concise document that effectively communicates your qualifications and skills.
To pass the six-second resume test, removing irrelevant information that could distract the hiring manager from your skills and qualifications is crucial. The question is, what should you leave out of your resume? Use the following checklist to carefully review your resume and ensure it passes the initial screening process without any issues.
Revise the Resume Objective Statement
Bid farewell to the cliché resume objective statements that merely express a desire for opportunities to leverage skills. These generic statements lack specificity, consuming valuable resume space without efficiently conveying the type of position you seek and why you’re apt for it. Instead, opt for a professional summary, a career statement, or a career summary. Craft a brief 3–5 line elevator pitch elucidating why you are well-suited for the targeted position. Summarize your qualifications and career achievements to provide hiring managers with a quick and compelling overview.
Streamline Mailing Address Details
In the contemporary job market, including a complete mailing address on your resume must be updated. Consider omitting specific location details unless you’re applying for a local position and can provide a local address. If you’re pursuing opportunities near your current residence, include only your city, state, and zip code. Eliminate your street address—this saves space and mitigates potential security risks associated with sharing unnecessary personal information during the initial stages of the hiring process.
Simplify Contact Information
Minimize the risk of missing essential messages by streamlining your contact details on your resume. Opt for clarity and efficiency by providing only one phone, preferably your mobile number. This lets you control your voicemail, manage call responses, and regulate accessibility.
Curate Your Social Media Presence
Exclude social media accounts from your resume that either host unprofessional content, don’t align with your current career objectives, or remain stagnant. If you include a social media URL, ensure it reflects your brand and supports your job qualifications. Additionally, establish at least one professional online profile on platforms like LinkedIn or SpotGiraffe, depending on your industry. Incorporate the link prominently on your resume. For those in creative fields, contemplate creating a mobile-responsive online portfolio or blog, offering a snapshot of your work. This ensures employers can conveniently access your content from any device.
Exclude Unnecessary Personal Details
Refrain from including personal information such as your social security number, marital status, nationality, sexual orientation, or spiritual beliefs on your resume. Not only is it unnecessary, but it is also illegal for employers to request such personal details. When determining whether to include a particular detail, assess its relevance to the job you’re pursuing. If the information doesn’t contribute to showcasing your qualifications for the role, it has no place on your resume.
Omit the Headshot
Unless you are a public figure or your profession explicitly requires a professional headshot, refrain from including a picture on your resume. Providing a photograph may inadvertently disclose details about your nationality, gender, or age, potentially leading to discriminatory practices. It’s advisable to withhold such personal information until after the employer has evaluated your application based solely on your qualifications. Some recruiters may dismiss a candidate solely for including a headshot to avoid any perception of discrimination.
Avoid Buzzword Overload
While it’s crucial to incorporate relevant keywords from job descriptions, refrain from overloading your resume with fluffy buzzwords. Ensure that the inclusion of keywords feels natural when read aloud. Deliberately stuffing your resume with keywords or inundating it with annoying buzzwords can be glaringly apparent to recruiters, leading to a negative impression.
In the realm of resume writing, it’s generally advisable to use personal pronouns such as “I,” “me,” “she,” or “he.” Despite some debate within the resume-writing community, the accepted practice is to reserve the first-person point of view for your profile summary. Craft your resume in what’s known as the absent first person, where sentences omit personal pronouns.
Simplicity in Design
Opt for simplicity when selecting a design for your resume. Elaborate designs and unconventional formats pose challenges for most applicant tracking systems and frustrate recruiters accustomed to swiftly scanning resumes for specific information. Make it easy for recruiters to locate the details they care about by adhering to a clean resume design with a clear hierarchy. To explore effective designs, consider reviewing TopResume’s library of free resume samples.
Steer Clear of Embedded Charts and Images
Despite their visual appeal, resumes featuring embedded images often need help with issues, becoming distorted or omitted entirely when processed through applicant tracking systems (ATS). Additionally, recruiters generally prefer a straightforward representation of your qualifications rather than a subjective visual depiction of your skills. Save your creative flair for your online portfolio and refrain from incorporating images in your resume.
Eliminate Spelling and Grammatical Errors
Spelling and grammatical errors are the foremost resume mistakes that could risk your job prospects. Mitigating this risk is relatively straightforward. Print your resume in a different font, read it aloud, and enlist someone with strong writing skills to edit for grammar. Taking these steps will ensure your resume remains free of language-related deal-breakers.
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