When you’re looking for a job, it’s easy to feel as if you have to put all of your experience onto your resume, hoping that showing all of the work you have done will give you an edge with a perspective employer.
However, Elli Sharef, Co-Founder of HireArt—a website that connects job seekers to startups—-argues that putting any and all experience on your resume actually hurts you as it often leads to a long resume with no focus. In fact, because hiring managers only spend a few seconds reviewing a resume, yours should be as succinct as possible, ideally no more than two pages, according to Elli. Here are a few other key reasons why:
Employers won’t remember anything if you try to focus on everything. If you list a long list of skills, an employer likely won’t recall any of them. It’s simply impossible to form a mental image if you present yourself as a lawyer, marketer and venture capitalist all in one. Which is it? Pick the one that is most important to you and emphasize it throughout your resume.
Having a clear narrative is a huge advantage. I recently interviewed a candidate for a sales position. Within the first three minutes of the conversation he said, “I live and breathe sales. I love everything about selling.” He spent the next 15 minutes telling me about his different sales roles and why he had excelled at them. As a hiring manager, this really appealed to me — he had a neat narrative that made me believe that he’d excel at the sales job I was hiring for. I later learned that he’d actually done a lot of things other than sales in his life, but he hadn’t focused on those things initially. His resume was sparse and though he didn’t skip his other roles, they just weren’t emphasized. The moral of the story is this: Why do I need to know you’re a great tax accountant if I’m hiring a sales person? It dilutes your narrative and makes me nervous about the sincerity of your passion for sales.
Though Elli is referring to business and sales, the power of having a narrative in your resume to demonstrate fit and focus is helpful in the nonprofit sector as well. Here’s a helpful trick: When your resume is drafted for a specific job opening, hand it to a friend and ask them, “Can you tell what job I’m applying for?” The language you use and the experiences you share should reflect the job description.
Need more help crafting your resume? Check out these additional resources.