Having spent the last 15+ years in the recruiting sector, I’ve seen countless variations to the resume. When I think back to my own transition from the Army, I believe I worried about my resume more than any other single thing. I was so accustomed to the Army’s way of dictating precisely how things must look, that I was a bit surprised that there was no single ‘best’ or ‘approved’ resume format. While that freedom was gratifying to some extent, it was also worrisome in that there is a certain comfort in following a formula. That’s probably the engineer/math nerd in me.
So while there are many acceptable resume formats (chronological, functional, hybrid, etc.), there are some things that apply to every resume, no matter the format. The reality is that there are certain items that people often put on their resumes that are a complete waste of valuable space. Here are my top three:
The Objective Statement: An Objective Statement is a concise one or two-sentence description of the type of role that the job-seeker would like to attain. Here is an example:
Highly motivated and hard-working military officer seeking a role in supply chain management to leverage the leadership skills and logistics background gained through seven years of experience as a supply officer in the Navy.
The reason that this item is unnecessary is that if you are applying for a supply chain position, it’s a pretty basic assumption that’s the type of job you want. Otherwise, why would the heck would you be applying for it? So, ultimately, the statement doesn’t provide information about you that is useful to the hiring manager. And, regretfully, I’ve seen people apply for jobs that weren’t at all related to their objective statement, which is just plain dumb.
Skills Summary / Professional Summary: There are multiple variations of this item. In one case, a person lists out 6 to 10 skills that he/she wants to highlight. Often you will see things like teambuilding, decision-making, project management, etc. In other versions, the candidate develops a word picture to describe what they bring to an organization. Here’s an example of one that I found on the internet:
Dynamic and motivated professional with a proven record of generating and building relationships, managing projects from concept to completion, designing educational strategies, and coaching individuals to success. Skilled in building cross-functional teams, demonstrating exceptional communication skills, and making critical decisions during challenges. Adaptable and transformational leader with an ability to work independently, creating effective presentations, and developing opportunities that further establish organizational goals.
That all sounds good right? But they are just words, without anything to back them up. Anyone could write such a blurb without a shred of real substance or proof. You just have to be good with the English language and the turn of a phrase. Keep in mind that your resume is a relatively short document with only room for the essentials. We feel the essentials should be facts instead of a branding statement like that.
Note: There is an exception to the prohibition of listing skills, but mostly that is for IT roles where it could be important to list “hard skills” related to various technology platforms, network security, software, programming, etc.
References: Now, If you really want to waste valuable space on your resume then list out the contact information for your professional references or add a statement at the bottom such as “References available upon request.” Think about it. If a company wants your references, they will ask for them. The way they ask for them is via the actual job application that you fill out. Thus, it’s redundant to also include them on the resume. Trust me, nobody who looks at your resume is going to start reaching out to your references until you have actually made the effort to apply for the job and gone through to the final stages of the interview process where an offer is imminent. And to say they are ‘available upon request’ is a trivial statement. Who wouldn’t make them available? Bottom line: don’t confuse a resume with a job application.