Six Tricks to a Clutter-Free Resume

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CareerBuilder.com

In the world of job searching, bigger, flashier, more colorful and louder isn't always better. While some people feel the need to use elaborate fonts, bright paper, or graphics and animation in hopes of getting attention, it is often wiser to take a minimalist approach to your resume

One of the biggest reasons why simple is often safer in today's job market is technology. Applicant tracking systems help HR managers sift through the numerous resumes they receive. This means that the first person who reads your resume may not be a person, but rather a computer, and that your paper resume will be scanned in and turned into an electronic file that is viewed by a computer system. Because it is sent through a scanner, your resume needs to be clear, concise and free from distracting characteristics. Plus, more and more companies are using online applications and requesting candidates to paste in resumes on company Web sites, or use online job sites to find candidates.

Having a simple resume is not just about scanning systems and electronic submissions. It also means carefully selecting which information to keep and which to cut. If you want to make sure your resume is clean, to the point and highlights your most important qualities in the most effective way, consider the following tips.


1. Forget the fancy fonts.

Yes, it is certainly fun to write your annual family letter in a quirky lettering. But when it comes to your resume, a boring font is always better. Stick to the classics, like Times New Roman or Arial. These fonts are typically read well by electronic scanners and most e-mail systems, as well as human eyes.


2. Don't overdo the underlining, bolding and italics.

Some people feel like everything on their resume needs to be highlighted in one way or another. But electronic scanners get easily tripped up by underlined words and italics. It might not be possible to have your resume be completely italic free, but too much of a good thing can be distracting to any kind of reader.


3. Include old information sparingly.

Have you been out of college for more than 10 years? If so, you can probably get rid of the section on your resume that highlights your G.P.A. Are you still including all of your past jobs, which make your resume three pages long? Did you start your professional life in a completely different career, one that is now irrelevant to your current job? If so, it's time to cut information that no longer belongs. When you first start out, there is a reason you include all of your work experience. But the more experience you gain, the more selective you can be on what to include. No, you do not need to tell potential employers that you were a bartender in college. Some jobs just don't apply!


4. Leave out personal information.

Unless your hobbies are directly relevant to your job, they should be taken out of your resume. The same goes for travel experience, marital status or the fact that you sing in the church choir. When you write your resume, try to think like the employer and include only the information that is going to matter to the company or the position you are seeking.


5. Write in sound bites, not paragraphs.

A resume is not supposed to read like a novel. Your information should be presented in brief, concise statements that include strong action words. A resume should never be written in complete sentences or have statements that begin with "I." A reader needs to be able to glance at your resume quickly and know what your strengths and experiences are. Don't make him or her muddle through a lot of extraneous words to get to the good stuff.


6. Keep the look professional.

These days, printed resumes are usually needed only for an interview. Like the fun fonts, fluorescent, patterned or textured paper is better suited to invitations and personal letters than resumes. Choose professional, plain paper and black ink. Leave graphics and shading out, too. Make sure the hiring manager knows what he or she is receiving. You don't want your resume to be thrown out because someone thought it was junk mail!

Your resume has an important job to do. It must convince an employer that you are worth talking to, that you are better than the rest and that you can do the job all in about 15 seconds. Make those 15 seconds really count with a resume that sends the right message right away!


Next: How To Write a Winning Resume >>

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