Jeff Altman , The Big Game Hunter explains how to edit an overly long résumé.
Today, let’s talk about pruning their resume that is ridiculously long. I know in some fields and some academic settings, it seems essential to have a 10 page resume. In industry, that isn’t the case. You want to get your resume to two or 2 1/2 pages in length. Why? Because no one really cares about what you did of the Stone Ages except to see if you had a career progression.
Here’s what you need to do.
- Look at the most recent 10 years. That is the area to emphasize. Anything before that you can summarize by saying, “Prior experience was as a (fill in the blank) and (list two or three firms) between “list the dates). So what you’re doing is indicating what you did prior to 10 years ago with a quick summary.
- What if your resume is three or four pages and that’s just the past 10 years? Let me ask you a friend question. Will anyone care what you did nine years ago? Yes, you did it but will this relate to the kind of position that you are going for now? Is there any experience for any skill needed from 10 years ago that is pivotal for what you are going for today? Probably not. If there is, you have to include it and risk going to along resume. However, I must in all candor say that, in most fields, it’s completely irrelevant to the kind of position you’re going for today and your ego is getting in the way.
You have to go in with a critical eye and ask yourself, “This is the kind of job them going for. What’s the background of people that they are looking for? Are the keywords going to pop up for what I did 10 years ago and not call me anyway or is this relevant to what I’m doing now?” If it’s irrelevant, get rid of it or minimize. You can do much shorter descriptions of your work or from anything in your past then what you demonstrate today.
When most firms evaluate someone to determine whether they will interview them are looking at just the past few years. The filler is the old stuff and, if you look at their behavior, they are not reading a resume. They are reading screenshots on a computer screen. It is rare when they print out a resume to read it. How many page downs do you think they do? Not a lot.
The most important work is the past few years. As you get past that it becomes progressively less relevant to them. Take a hatchet to it. Cut it down. You have to do it. Not doing it will only hurt you in the end.
Do you think employers are trying to help you? You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell you as much as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.
The skills needed to find a job are different yet complement the skills needed to do a job.
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years.
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