Less is Best: How to build a lean, mean resume

Have you ever thought about the person that actually reviews your resume? What’s that person’s day like? Do they really just sit around all day reading our precious little documents, one after the other? Oh, how overjoyed they must be to receive your nine page, single spaced CV with your work history going all the way back to middle school where you mowed Mrs. Brown’s lawn on every other Saturday. They probably build their office furniture from those paper mounds of discarded dreams. Then there’s the oft quoted statistic saying that poor HR sap will only give your work-of-art resume about a 6 second glance. The injustice of it all!
Since every millimeter of your document is prime property, you should consider clearing out the clutter to make room for material that will actually attract an employer. One of the best places to start is the work history section on your CV. Here are a few tips to get you started to building a stronger resume and save that poor hiring manager a little grief.

1. Trim the fat. You should first tailor your work history down to only those jobs that are germane to the position you are applying. Yes, I understand that you’re proud of the two months you spent working at the local used book store between tech jobs, but your potential employer is probably not going to be too interested. Those sorts of things only tend to obscure information on your document that a company is really searching for.

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings” Stephen King.

2. Forget about chronology. You’re applying for a specific position that requires specific skills, so you should consider listing your past experience in order of pertinence. When you list your job history chronologically you’re asking the reviewer to sift through information. It may be silly to state,. but remember that we read from top to bottom, so the most important information should go at the top of the list. And we’re all a little lazy at heart.

3. Keep it real. Cut out any and flowery language in your employment descriptions. Pretentious verbiage tends to turn off reviewers. It may even convey the idea you’re trying to hide the fact that you didn’t really do that much in that position. It also creates a barrier between you being perceived as a flesh-and-blood potential for a job. You should strive for authenticity and only write the way you talk.

4. Focus on keywords. Read and reread the company’s description of the position for which you’re applying. Really try to filter out the main requirements they’re searching for. Focus the order of your job history on those requirements, and utilize those keywords in your own descriptions of your past employment. They’re telling you what they’re looking for, so you just have to listen.

Trimming down your work history is one way to start building a more attractive CV. You drove it to the gym and finished that first workout. There are definitely other areas to work on, but this is a great start. Put in the effort and the next time you take your resume to the beach it’ll definitely get noticed.

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