If you are like most people, you keep adding positions to your resume that you probably created in college. The result? For those of us over 40, you end up with a 6+ page bible of your work history.
Your college award for debating, the success of your first spreadsheet, your promotion from analyst to associate at age 25. Everything is documented.
The problem is that most of the 6+ pages are not only irrelevant but actually harmful in your job search since you are showing recruiters you can’t edit yourself. We’ve all worked with people that take 10 minutes to say something you could do in 1. Who wants to work with someone who has no self-awareness?
How do truncate your 6+ page bible resume into a streamlined 2-page dynamo?
Your bullets are like your children; you love them all:
- The big client you landed 15 years ago
- Cost savings you achieved 10 years ago
- Your promotion to managing 30 people from 5 a year ago
However, you hear all the time that you need a 2, maybe 3-page resume. You’re thinking “These rules don’t apply to me”. However, they do.
Please keep in mind the purpose of your resume, LinkedIn profile, and interviews. Tell a quick story, a longer story, and a full kick-ass story, respectively.
Sometimes older jobs are relevant. You can refer to them in summary bullets at the top of your resume to make the reader aware of them. Then simply list your companies and titles. Don’t be that guy who hangs around his high school after graduating.
Keep only relevant content
Ask yourself one key question “Is what I have on paper relevant for my next job?
Relevancy generally means:
- Technical experience going back no more than 10 years
- Your recent ability to manage a team
- Concrete business results relevant to today’s marketplace
Given how quickly technology has changed in the workplace, how can experience 20 years ago really be relevant today? I acknowledge there are exceptions.
What recruiters don’t care about if you’re 40 years or older:
- College GPA
- Captain of the football team
- Your first job, your second job
- Fortran coding skills
If you put on the hat of “is it relevant today for my next job” much of the past really fades away.
Leave some material for the interview.
Ever go on a 4-hour first date and tell the other person your life story. Ever have the 2nd?
My client had a 5-page resume, 10-point font with ¼ inch margins
My client began as a coder in the 1990s and then moved on to business roles. He told me he is successful in business because of the discipline and logic skills he learned earlier in life.
Therefore, he wanted to keep his 3 coding jobs pre-2000 and all the contributions he made to his prior employers.
He wanted a shorter resume but didn’t know what to do. His entire working career was before us; he had solid paragraphs. Bricks of text.
The ultimate issue is ego. We are so wrapped up in our prior accomplishments that without a third-party view, we become lost in ourselves. Let go of your ego and irrelevant resume content.
We sat down and executed a plan
I asked my client for 5 job descriptions that described his next career move. I ran all of them through a keyword search program, Monkeylearn.com
When I presented him with the top 30 keywords, I ask him “how many of these can you demonstrate with tangible success metrics for positions older than 10 years?”
His answer was 5 of the 30. He began to get it.
I then asked him why he is so shy of his accomplishments over the most recent 5 years? He told me compared to his earlier career, his accomplishments today are weaker.
I then said, “do you think anybody knows that?” He explained, “probably not”. Due to the Great Recession, most everyone can point to something in the past that was “better”.
He started to understand that he needs to compete with other candidates, not the former version of himself.
Every time I produced a new draft of his resume, he fought back. I kept saying “is what you are holding onto relevant to your next job”. He eventually got the point since I didn’t back down.
We produced a sweet 2-page resume. He saved his additional material for his LinkedIn profile. I taught him how to put everything together in a crisp story for his interviews.
He’s at JP Morgan now. Give him a call at 1-800-TruncateMyResume.
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