In preparation for a job search, you dust off your old resume and tack on your most recent job, new skills and training. But without editing or deleting old information, your resume becomes a hodgepodge of outdated accomplishments, awards and skills.
It's time to declutter your resume. Clean up your act in these five steps:
Step 1: Narrow Your Career Goal
Tom Kelly, president of Executive Recruiting Solutions, says many job seekers' biggest problem is not being sure of what they want to do, adding that it's particularly an issue for those branching out into new careers or industries. "The resume starts to lose focus," he says. "A whole bunch of extra stuff ends up in it in order to try to appeal to a wider range of employers or industries."
Kelly recommends limiting your resume's focus or creating more than one version if you have multiple target jobs. "It's best to declutter the resume by targeting one to three industries, max," Kelly says. This makes it easier to consolidate down to relevant content.
Step 2: Condense Your Opening Summary
Les Gore, managing partner of Executive Search International, recommends including a qualifications summary near the top of your resume. "Tell me a little about your background," he says. "Don't go overboard, and don't overdo the selling. Be succinct and descriptive in terms of your experience and collective knowledge."
And forget about crafting lofty mission statements or "me-focused" objectives that talk about wanting a fulfilling career with opportunity for growth, advises Harvey Band, managing partner of recruiting firm Band & Gainey Associates. "You're wasting page space with that, and you're wasting your time and mine," he says. "Use the top third of the page to communicate your most recent experience and your most impressive accomplishments. Get my attention. Then I'll keep reading."