A Resume Only a Mother Could Love

Posted by Rob Riggins

My resume is too long, But I have 25 years experienceAt our recent Cleared Job Fair we had a cleared job seeker register with a 13-page resume.

13 pages? Did we discover the long-lost resume of Leonardo da Vinci? Albert Einstein?

Other than perhaps your mother – and my mother likely wouldn’t make it past page one – who would be interested in dredging through page after page of dense paragraphs with minute details of everything you’ve done since 1988?

Yes that’s right. Detailed responsibilities and accomplishments going back to 1988. No wonder it was a 13-page resume.

When you’ve accomplished a lot in your career, you’re quite naturally proud of what you’ve done. Clearly this job seeker falls in that category. But when you deluge a recruiter or hiring manager with too much irrelevant information, your message gets lost.

Are these items on your resume

Take a look at your resume and make sure you’re not making the same mistakes as our 13-page job seeker.

  1. Training groaning on for one and one-half pages. Relevant training for the position you’re applying for should be on your resume. A laundry list of every training course you’ve taken in the last 25 years should not.
  2. Performance appraisal ratings going back to 1995. This took up nearly half a page. It could easily have been shortened to an accomplishment statement reading: “Received outstanding performance appraisal ratings for 14 consecutive years.” Nice, neat, short and sweet. And much more likely to have been read by a recruiter or hiring manager. See Guide to Building Accomplishment Statements.
  3. References. Do not include your references on your resume. It’s not necessary and you may want to use different or fewer references depending on the discussion you have with the employer. See 3 Tips for Effective References.
  4. Fluency or some sort of proficiency in a language makes sense to include on your networking resume. Rating yourself a “beginner” in three languages isn’t helpful. We have yet to see a job description requiring “beginner” proficiency in a language.
  5. A nearly two-page career summary and career highlights. That’s the length of an executive summary for a 50-page white paper, not a resume. See Your Resume Needs a Short Relevant Summary, Not an Objective.

This document the job seeker brought to the Cleared Job Fair wasn’t really a resume for the private sector. It was a finely researched autobiography. Your mother may relish the specific details of everything you’ve accomplished over the past 25 years. Neither a recruiter nor a hiring manager in the private sector will.

So if your resume is over two pages long give it a hard look. If you do have 25 years experience and the positions you’re applying for require 15, or 20, or even 25 years experience, yes you need to communicate that information. But you don’t need 13 pages to do so.

We’ve had a number of blog posts about lengthy resumes in the past including For Job Seekers Guilty of Having a 3+ Page Resume.  If you’re still having trouble figuring out how to reduce the length of your resume, please visit Patra Frame who will be reviewing resumes at the next Cleared Job Fair in Tysons Corner on October 9.




This entry was posted on Thursday, September 11, 2014 9:33 am

2 thoughts on “A Resume Only a Mother Could Love”

  1. Hi, Rob — I’ve got some issues with the pragmatics of this job market. Don’t get me wrong; I definitely believe in the one-and-at-most-two-page resume! However, No-Such-Agency has these things called Resume Templates for qualifying your resume submission for EACH labor category. The long & short of it is, without detailing each employer, by job & contract & work experience & accomplishments, there’s no way to fill in one of these Qual Templates. My resume is 6 pages — a one-page front summary (which no one seems to even scan, let alone read), with 5 more detailing my work history. The template I just completed for an SE3 position NECESSARILY ENUMERATED over 2000 paragraphs of text — not counting the nearly 5000 matrix cells needed to cross-reference 46 Qual requirements versus 106 resume job description bullets — WITH FULL reverse traceability!! I have over 1.5 Megabytes of text to submit! A 6- to 25-page resume is a happy, maintainable compromise between these limits!

    1. Thanks Rob, you make a great point and highlight one of the differences between the private and public sectors. You need different versions of your resume for different audiences. We recommend you have a master resume document with all your information in one convenient place to pull from. You then need to create a customized version of that master document for the intended audience. When you’re attending a private sector job fair or other networking event, your resume is a concise selling tool or advertisement vs. an autobiography!

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