Why Is "THAT" on Your Resume?!

Quite a few resumes have come across my desk throughout my career. “Interesting” is an understatement in describing the things I’ve seen, which often leave me asking the dreaded question… “Why is THAT on your resume?” I decided to share with you what “THAT” is, along with some alternatives on what you can do instead of doing “THAT.”

The dreaded “THAT” includes:

Labels Like “Email”, “Address”, and “Phone Number”

There is no need to label these items in the resume heading. I am pretty sure the average person recognizes email addresses, phone numbers, and addresses. If more than one phone number is listed, then label them to distinguish the “mobile” (or cell) number from the “home” number. I recall a resume that actually listed 2 cell numbers – just pick one.

Unprofessional Email Addresses

I can’t help but chuckle at some of the very creative email addresses people devise. I recall seeing email addresses that made me think, “What does THAT mean?” For example, “[email protected]”, “[email protected]”, and “[email protected]”, to name a few. These very creative email addresses were a distraction for me, albeit briefly, from the task at hand – evaluating the candidate’s skills, qualifications, contributions, and accomplishments to determine if they may complement the needs of the team and business. Although creativity is a great qualification for many jobs, save it for the next big project. Stick with the basic [email protected] for your job search and resume.

“And the like” or “Etc.”

What exactly does this mean in terms of your qualifications for the job you are pursuing? Imagine you are the hiring manager and you are reading the following on a candidate’s resume:

“Execute strategies, etc.”

“Collaborate with team members and the like.”

“Administered programs, etc.”

“Increased profits and the like.”

Doesn’t it seem like something is missing in these statements? Substance – is what’s missing. If your resume is your marketing document, tell recruiters exactly what “etc.” and “and the like” mean. How? Firstly, remove the “filler words” [as we would label these in Toastmasters]. Secondly, use actual facts from your background that clearly illustrate your value. Don’t leave anything for the hiring manager’s imagination. Be specific be detailed, be succinct. Here’s an example: “Devised and executed profitable sales and marketing strategies, exceeding sales goals by 20%.” Now, doesn’t this give a much better picture of your value?

“Hard worker”

If you have “hard worker” in your resume, revise it immediately. Instead, use your accomplishments and contributions to show hiring managers how hard you work through the impacts you’ve made and why they should hire you as a member of their team.

“[Credential] Certification Candidate”

If you haven’t taken or scheduled the certification exam yet, why is THAT on your resume? Instead, use your cover letter to state your plans to sit for the exam in the near future. If you have the exam date scheduled, use your cover letter to mention you are scheduled to take the exam and specify the date. This shows your commitment to professional growth and desire to be deemed a certified expert that is prepared to make long-term contributions towards the success of the business.

“Computer Literate”

Where do I begin? There is absolutely too much technology to attempt figuring this one out. Because of the wide range of programs, languages, systems, software, and hardware in the world, be specific in listing your technical skills in your resume. For example, “Technical proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint,” is a clear indication of your skill set.

College Course Numbers

Course numbers mean nothing to hiring managers and take up valuable space on your resume. For new graduates with very little or no relevant professional experience, listing the name of completed college courses that are relevant to your target job is highly recommended. Just don’t use course numbers. Also, consider truncating some course titles that may be too long. For instance, instead of listing “Introduction to Marketing”, list Marketing or a higher level marketing course, such as “Strategic Marketing”, which is much more impactful.

Active Links from Copied and Pasted Text

So you used a template but didn’t customize the content? You actually copied and pasted content from the template into your resume? It is never recommended to copy and paste content from templates or any other source. But, if you do, be mindful of active links that link back to the site from which you copied the content. A general rule of thumb is, do not copy and paste content from templates. Instead, use templates to guide your thought process, but create your own resume content that is relevant and specific to you.

A long paragraph of information

If your resume contains a paragraph with 15 lines of text under one job, you’re hampering your marketing efforts. Think about a written advertisement or a billboard in the train station or on the side of a bus. Will you be more apt to read the ad with 15 lines of text or the ad with 3 brief but very informative lines of text? If your answer is the latter, revise your resume immediately. If you are long-winded, have a professional resume writer renovate your resume for you. Comprehensive but concise is the key.

Your Signature

Save your signature for the cover letter.

The resume serves as the promotional tool you use to market your qualifications to a potential employer. You may decide to work with a certified professional resume writer to develop this critical promotional tool or you may decide to develop it on your own. Either way, the ultimate goal is to capture a job interview using a concisely written, high quality resume (and cover letter), filled with relevant keywords and validating content – the informative stuff.

Just stick with the most informative stuff and remove THAT other stuff from your resume.