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What Should Really Be Included on a Candidate’s Resume?

ceviche1An interesting discussion started to develop the other day on our Twitter stream after we tweeted about a blog post regarding which information a candidate should include on his or her resume — and which should be ditched with yesterday’s “Top Chef” contestant.

Some of you think an objective is a necessary component of a resume, pointing out that it can provide an expanded view of a candidate’s experience as well as detail a candidate’s drive and vision — while others dismissed it as clutter or vague filler. Many of you were divided on whether candidates should send a resume to you in a Word document or in a PDF.

As evidenced by a CareerBuilder survey earlier this year, over a third (38 percent) of HR managers spend just one to two minutes reviewing a candidate’s resume before making some kind of decision about it. That’s not a lot of time for a candidate to put his or her best foot forward and make a strong impression. So how, exactly, should candidates make a (good) impression on you, employers?

In a recent CNN article, CareerBuilder’s vice president of corporate marketing, Jason Ferrara, offered five tips for job seekers to make their resume stand out:

  1. Include a career summary at the top of a resume
  2. Keep it up to date
  3. Incorporate keywords
  4. Use a functional resume
  5. Include all relevant experience

And in an article on MSN careers, CareerBuilder writer Rachel Zupek, gives 10 resume tips for candidates to get a better response from employers. They include having a less-selfish objective, focusing on accomplishments rather than duties, and filling in any unemployment gaps.

Of course, resume information may also include things like social media info (a candidate’s Twitter handle or professional networking profile), volunteer work, awards, certification and training, work history, references (or stating “References available upon request.”

But the real question is, What information do you want to see in a candidate’s resume — and what are they better off leaving out like former Top Chef contestant Mattin’s undercooked ceviche?

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.
7 comments
Amanda
Amanda

I agree with Larry in regards to functional resumes - CareerBuilder is providing some poor advice here. Functional resumes are annoying and should ONLY be used if a person is trying to completely change fields (or for entry level just starting one's career). Otherwise, I want to SEE where you're using your skills and how (via accomplishments at a job) not just a list of them.

I disagree about obective statements, however. Generally, a candidate's objective is to obtain employment. I understand that, and that's why I'm getting the resume from that person in the first place. A professional summary will do (it will show the person's ability to compose a thoughtful, cohesive paragraph as Karen mentioned), and an objective statement is overkill especially if one is using a professional summary.

And yes, please do update your cover letter, tailored specifically to the job you're applying for. I'm not even going to look at your resume if your cover letter is written to a company or a job that isn't mine.

Karen Chilcote
Karen Chilcote

I like to see an Objective paragraph--not only to see what the applicant's objectives are, but more importantly to see how well they compose a thoughtful cohesive and informative paragraph about themselves.

Absolutely explain employment gaps and use month-and-year dates so that 2005 - 2006 and 2007 - 2008 isn't left to question if it's a month in each year totaling less than four months' employment.

I like to see what duties have been performed as well as accomplishments. What I do not want to see is how this person is going to single-handedly turn our company around, increase sales by 100%, etc. That's a red flag of an over-inflated opinion of their potential value to my company. Tell me what you have done in the past and let me decide how valuable you can be to my company.

I require a cover letter, and I want it to be edited to reply to me and the job opening I have advertised. Obviously, the basic letter can be generic to all ads being responded to, but with a computer, it doesn't take that much effort to personalize each response. If that's too much trouble, I don't want to employ this person.

Karen Chilcote
Karen Chilcote

I like to see an Objective paragraph--not only to see what the applicant's objectives are, but more importantly to see how well they compose a thoughtful cohesive and informative paragraph about themselves.

Absolutely explain employment gaps and use month-and-year dates so that 2005 - 2006 and 2007 - 2008 isn't left to question if it's a month in each year totaling less than four months' employment.

I like to see what duties have been performed as well as accomplishments. What I do not want to see is how this person is going to single-handedly turn our company around, increase sales by 100%, etc. That's a red flag of an over-inflated opinion of their potential value to my company. Tell me what you have done in the past and let me decide how valuable you can be to my company.

I require a cover letter, and I want it to be edited to reply to me and the job opening I have advertised. Obviously, the basic letter can be generic to all ads being responded to, but with a computer, it doesn't take that much effort to personalize each response. If that's too much trouble, I don't want to employ this person.

Larry Bradley
Larry Bradley

Bad advice. Functional resumes are the worst for getting hired and an irritant (or should be) to most interviewers.

In order, these are the must-haves and the only sections that should be on a resume: Header (name, address, email); Ojective; Summary; Professional Experience; Education; Skills. No social media info. No references or offer to provide them. No volunteer work or awards unless they are directly related to the specific opening.

Larry Bradley
Larry Bradley

Bad advice. Functional resumes are the worst for getting hired and an irritant (or should be) to most interviewers.

In order, these are the must-haves and the only sections that should be on a resume: Header (name, address, email); Ojective; Summary; Professional Experience; Education; Skills. No social media info. No references or offer to provide them. No volunteer work or awards unless they are directly related to the specific opening.

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