Q. I read somewhere that recruiters and hiring managers really like resumes that show your personality. But I also heard that a resume should be very professional and formal. So I need some direction. What is considered too personal and how can I personalize my resume the right way?
A. Your resume should definitely reflect you: it should be very specific in describing your experience, accomplishments, and skills. The more specific you are, the less likely you will be confused with another candidate and the more you will stand out. However, some candidates do become too personal on their resumes.
- Age, marital status, health information, and other information, including a photograph, because that information could open a U.S. employer to a discrimination lawsuit. Similar information is often expected on European CVs but never on U.S. resumes.
- The pronoun “I”—it is a waste of space, unnecessary since it is assumed, and gets tiresome to read line after line.
- Excuses for what you do not bring to the table—you should mention and briefly explain gaps in your career but never apologize for a lack of degree, a failed business, or the lack of a single skill mentioned in the job posting. A better route is to show your ability to quickly learn what you need to learn.
- Elaborate designs meant to show off your individuality or bizarre vocabulary meant to show off your intelligence. Employers want to understand what you have accomplished as quickly as possible. Complex designs and convoluted word usage slow them down and irritate them.
- Exact numbers. “Reduced time to market” is more impressive if you can add “by 15%” or “within 3 months” or “by placing a research expert on each of three product development teams.” Always explain how you accomplished what you accomplished.
- Keywords from the job posting or advertisement. Keywords show that you meet or are capable of meeting the requirements and that you understand the most important qualifications for that position and industry.
- What you like most about your current job and want in your next position. Choose those accomplishments that not only match the job posting but match your goals. Dedicate the least space to skills and responsibilities you have outgrown.
- Your soft skills. Make sure your resume refers to your skills in mentoring, customer or vendor relationships, teamwork, conflict resolution, or whatever other soft skills you are known for.
- Your awards and recognition. Any award from your company or the vendors you work with and any praise from your boss or customers is worth mentioning.
By including the exact recognition, skills, accomplishments, and numbers that are unique to your career and by focusing on your own and the company’s interests, you will personalize your resume in a way that keeps hiring managers and recruiters interested. How personal you get in your resume is limited only and entirely by those parameters. Robin’s Resumes® will help ensure that you stand out from the crowd in the best possible way.