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5 tips for cleaning up your resume

March 25, 2014

A well-designed and constructed resume will make your achievements shine, while a less successful resume will undermine your career successes.

Here are five tips that can help you to clean out the clutter and highlight the gems on your resume.

1. Lose any outdated experiences
When it comes to resumes, many people become hoarders. Of course you want to show everything you've accomplished in your career, but that's not a good idea. If your resume exceeds two pages, lacks white space or uses tiny fonts, you're overdoing it. 

Just as importantly, overstuffed resumes have the effect of obscuring relevant experience, surrounded as it is by outdated or tangential information. That is why industry expert Amanda Clark, writing for Business 2 Community, emphasized the need for job searchers to eliminate outdated experiences from their resumes. For example, if you've had a lengthy career, she recommended focusing on the past 10 or 15 years. You can still mention older experiences, but ideally in a separate section and with no in-depth information. Space on a resume is highly valuable.

2. Add recent accomplishments
Conversely, you should devote additional space to more recent noteworthy accomplishments. In particular, Clark recommended job seekers highlight titles or promotions and projects overseen or conducted. In the latter cases, she wrote, you should try to make it clear what you accomplished and how. Including metrics can be a great way to demonstrate the results of your efforts in a concrete manner.

3. Include an overview
According to Clark, including a career objective on your resume is no longer considered a best practice. Instead, potential employers want a better sense of your accomplishments, skills and qualifications.

You should therefore include an overview section that clearly lays out this information. This will include your core specialty, any certifications you've received that are relevant to the jobs you seek and other pertinent information. By making it easy for hiring managers to quickly understand your expertise and experience, you have a better shot at getting their attention for a longer look at your credentials.

4. Get detailed
On your resume, you need to strike the right balance between over- and under-describing your career. On the whole, though, it is better to lean toward more detail than less. Yeager asserted that it is not enough to simply list job responsibilities.

"You need to get specific with your bullets, so instead of saying 'wrote reports for top management,' give details. What kind of reports and how many? In what department is the top management for whom you wrote?" Yeager recommended.

This level of detail will give the reader a more accurate understanding of what kind of experience and value you will bring to a new organization.

5. Cut back on cliches
Finally, you should take the time to go through your resume and remove any cliches, according to Yeager. She explained that hiring managers will likely have a negative reaction to well-worn phrases and descriptions, such as "excellent written and oral communication skills." Such claims are so commonplace that you won't be distinguishable at all from fellow job applicants.

Even worse, using this type of language may make you seem like you lack creativity.

By ditching clichéd language and using more unique, descriptive terms instead, your resume will create a much better impact.

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