Is Your Resume Too Long?

For resumes, there’s a school of thought out there advocating that resumes include all one’s qualifications, certifications, and experience. The idea here is that it shows versatility and appeals to a larger, broader audience. Doesn’t that make logical sense?

An example

I have a bachelor’s degree, massage therapy license, cosmetology license, barber’s apprentice license (in the state of NY), an education in culinary arts, and intermediate fluency in French. In addition, I’ve worked in staffing/recruiting, hospitality/restaurants, non-profit fundraising, retail, and call center customer service. So, I return to my original question: shouldn’t I include all of this? And surprisingly, the answer is no.

Reason 1: Variety isn’t always the spice of life

Being versatile isn’t a bad thing. Take it from me; being a jack-of-all trades can serve you well. The “but” here comes down to how you market yourself. I have never once created a resume that includes everything listed above. It doesn’t excite readers. Instead, it confuses them. If they cannot see a consistent intent in your resume, they have no idea what your career goals are or if you’re the candidate for this job. The confusion leads to trepidation, which then leads to the recycle bin.

The solution?

Focus on crafting a resume that speaks to the job at hand so you can connect the dots for the reader. This makes everything crystal clear. The items on your list should be as applicable as possible to the job at hand.

Reason 2: The Dreaded Word, “Overqualified”

A surplus of credentials can have this effect, and there are a couple reasons why. First, qualifications mean higher pay. They may not want to explore this. And they may not need to. If they are receiving resumes from candidates whose resume reflects the exact qualifications, those candidates will work for the stated pay rate. Second, they may fear that you’re taking what you can get for now and will leave when you find your dream job.

Does that mean you should not include degrees/certifications?

This is tricky. I’ve never had one answer that applies to every situation. For me, it really depends. With degrees/certificates related to the work, it may be worth keeping. It shows dedication to the field and a desire to grow and learn.  But if it’s not, this is a time to really think things through.

An example

Let’s say I ended up getting a master’s degree in 19th Century British Literature and I’m applying for an entry-level position in a financial services firm. The lack of connection between these concepts may confuse the reader because my interests seem to be focused in a totally different area. My credential does not really serve this position. But if my degree were an MBA, that could change things!

Since you’ve worked so hard on your degree (and likely spent a great deal of money on it!), the idea of not including it is maddening. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t. It’s just something to reflect on if you find yourself struggling to get call-backs on your resume.

In conclusion

Everything circles back to other resume blogs we’ve shared. It’s all about marketing; it’s a matter of connecting the dots the very best you can for readers. The result: they instantly see that you have just what they’re looking for.

Written by Adam Lafield, Recruiter & Marketing Specialist