Some jobseekers have a misconception that, like a buffet dinner, more is always better on their résumé. What results from this misguided belief is a ton of unfocused and untargeted information that usually leads to information overload for the recruiter, human resources manager, or hiring manager.
These jobseekers feel that the more duties they list on their résumé increases their chance of getting an interview. (The person with the most toys wins.) What they fail to realize is a very logical point Colleen Roller raises in her article, “Abundance of Choice and Its Effect on Decision Making.” It’s this: if we give the reviewer too many choices, she gets bombarded by information and is likely to lose focus on the message the jobseeker is trying to convey.
I often take time to look at my Résumé Writing workshop attendees’ résumés; and at first glance I get the sense that a reviewer might see reading their résumés as a chore. This is not the case with all my attendees, but some of the résumés read like a novel…not good. Can you imagine how a reviewer must feel if she has to select 10 candidates from among 100 résumés, most of which are full of unnecessary text?
Ms. Roller is a usability/decision architect and her eloquent article is about how we take in and remember information, which is essential in creating an effective website. She tells us that when given a choice of chocolate, for example, on the surface we’d prefer 30 different varieties. (I bet you chocolate lovers can think of at least 15.) However, when presented with so many varieties of chocolate, we become overwhelmed. Instead, a choice of six chocolates is what we’re capable of handling.
So how different is selecting from among 30 kinds of chocolate than deciphering a résumé that is nothing more than a list of duties? Not much different.
Ms. Roller says, “As the number of options increases, the evaluation process can become overwhelming and intimidating, especially when it feels like making a choice requires expert information or skill.”
Take advice from résumé reviewers who have been clamoring for résumés that are rich with quantified accomplishments and fewer duties, than ones that only list duties and look more like a grocery list. The overwhelming consensus is that they want résumés that provide the information they need upfront—I refer to it as prioritizing one’s statements as they relate to the job requirements. When jobseekers list only what’s important, the reviewer is quickly able to see the value in jobseekers.
So the question is, “How do jobseekers know which skills and experience to list on their résumé?” The answer lies in a complete understanding of the positions they seek. They must examine and dissect the job ad, and focus on all of the competencies required by the employer. By doing this jobseekers will not overload the reviewer with 30 varieties of chocolate; they will make the choice an easier one to make.
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Bob, great post with informative and helpful advice. I speak with my clientele on a daily basis about emphasizing quantifiable and unique achievements rather than listing endless amounts of standard responsibilities, and the results speak for themselves. In addition, I agree that tailored resumes are going to be far more effective than the outdated “universal” resume approach.
Drew Roark, CPRW
Thanks, Drew. Your comments mean a lot to me. Especially coming from a professional resume writer.