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Five Things to Eliminate From Your Resume

I recently made the rookiest of all rooky mistakes. I decided to downgrade my Dropbox account, which meant deleting a bunch of files. I did not know that Word documents I created on my computer and saved to my iCloud would disappear once I hit the delete button in Dropbox. I thought for sure those files were all safe a

As my dad would say, “That’s what you get for thinking.”

Every dialogue, exegetical, scholarly, and popular press article I wrote in the past four years of my doctoral training – gone!

The essay I wrote about becoming a grandmother that I’m still shopping around to publishers – obliterated!

Four separate versions of my resume – poof, up in cyber smoke.

Fortunately, I still have access to my online classes and can download all of my submissions. It will be time-consuming, and my notes and research can’t be recreated, but at least the final products are retrievable.

I included the essay in my family scrapbook, so I can recreate that document.

As for my resume, that will take some time to completely recreate.

Good thing today is National Update Your Resume Day. If it weren’t for the national calendar gods making up weird observance days, I may not have looked in my resume folder to find it empty.

It’s also a good thing I spent so much time last year researching for my soon to be published book that just so happens to include a chapter on resume writing.

In honor of National Update Your Resume Day and in mourning the passing of my 20-year-old resume, here are my top five tips for updating your resume.

Press Delete on Your photo

No personal photos on your resume, PLEASE. I don’t care what Pinterest says.

My friend Kaitlyn McGuire has a master’s degree in human resources, and she says, “just don’t do it.”

You might have heard that including a professional headshot helps hiring managers put a face to the name and humanizes you to them. What it actually does is trigger those deep-seated prejudices we’d all like to pretend we don’t have. Unconscious bias is real folks!

Imagine your friendly hiring manager casually sifting through resumes. His eye is immediately caught by your photo, not your credentials. Whether he knows it or not, he’s sorting the resumes thinking, too young, too old, too fat, not pretty enough, won’t fit in with our culture...

I think you get the idea.

I know you’re probably thinking, “No one should be biased. If they’re those kinds of jerks, I don’t want to work for them anyway.”

I agree. There should not be bias and discrimination in this world. But there is, there always has been, and there likely always will be as long as humans remain fallible. Work for change, advocate for change, and be a great role model. But, if you have grown accustomed to food, shelter, and clothing, accept that this is the way it is and delete anything from your resume, especially your photo, that may lead to bias or discrimination.

Eliminate Errors

Your resume is your six-second chance to grab a hiring manager’s attention. Make sure they sit up and pay attention because your qualifications are so awesome and not because you can’t spell, use proper punctuation, or remember the resume you’re about to send in is not a coaster for your coffee cup.

A messy resume spells trouble to those looking to hire someone. A sloppy resume says you’ll be a sloppy employee. Failure to catch mistakes in a document that stands between you and a job tells hiring managers you’ll make even more mistakes in their work if they hire you. If you can’t put forth your best effort for yourself, what is to make a hiring manager think you’ll give greater effort for them?

Clean it up. Proofread. Have someone else proofread. Hire a resume writer or an editor to help you. Do what you need to do to submit an error-free resume.

Nix Nifty Email Addresses

Your personal and professional lives are not always one and the same. I know society wants you to believe your sole purpose in life is to express yourself, be true to yourself, yada yada yada. That’s all well and good when you are representing Numero Uno. But when you apply for a job, the hiring manager doesn’t want to know how you live your best life. She wants to know if you are going to represent her company well and do a great job.

So, save the sexymama, hotcheeks, darklord, lesbianlover, jesuslovesall email addresses for your personal correspondence. Do yourself a favor and create a professional email address with just your name. Period.

Remove Your Home Address

In case you haven’t noticed, we live in the digital age. You won’t receive a letter in the mail asking you to come for an interview or offering you the job. You’ll receive phone calls and emails. All an employer needs are your phone number and email address.

Remember our earlier conversation about unconscious bias? Discrimination is a byproduct of bias. Employers legally cannot discriminate against you because of where you live. You may be popular on Sesame Street, but perhaps the guy on Wall Street unconsciously decides you’re not sophisticated enough for them.

Show you’re up with the times and don’t give anyone extra ammunition for potential discrimination. Scrub your snail mail address from your resume.

Ditch the Objective

The objective at the top of your resume is a waste of valuable real estate. Everyone is looking for employment with a stable company that uses their skills and allows them to contribute to something bigger than themselves. Most bosses I know don’t even bother to read this section. It’s an outdated idea. Ditch it.

If you would like to have something in its place, consider the professional summary. This should be brief and focused on what skills and experience you have that will benefit the employer. I know, it seems like a resume is all about you, because, well, it’s about you and what you’ve done. I want you to shift your thinking to the potential employer. Your resume should be about THEM and how you can help them succeed.

This is a brief look at five things you can eliminate from your resume right now. If you would like more resume tips or a deeper explanation why I made these suggestions, be on the lookout for my new book coming out this fall, Knock it Off! How to Quit Being a Jerk @ Work.


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