We had started off planning on one page, not totally unreasonable given her limited number of long-term jobs. Janet was definitely the “to the point” type of client – but trying to fit all the information in meant a crowded page. Towards the end of the process, she mentioned her belief that the résumé shouldn’t be exhaustive, that it was more like a snapshot. She didn’t want people to be bored by a lot of details.
A snapshot – the image stuck with me. I actually use a similar metaphor when working on clients’ job descriptions. I tell them the goal is to create a “picture” of them on the job, so that employers can easily see the scope of their knowledge and experience.
Don’t get me wrong – Janet’s instinct to not bog the résumé down in minutia is a good one. But as I explained, using her snapshot metaphor, you want to be sure you’re not shortchanging yourself.
When we think of a family photograph, the image is often Mom and Dad, seated on a sofa in an outdated living room, surrounded by children and maybe extended family. It’s sweet, may make us a little nostalgic, but it doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the people in the shot. In fact, you can almost swap out another group and there wouldn’t be a whole lot of difference.
Now compare that to a photo of a family hiking up a mountain, or standing at the edge of a lake with fishing poles in hand. Maybe it’s Grandma and Grandpa cheering like lunatics at one of the kids’ Little League games, or the whole group participating in a hot dog eating contest. Suddenly, there’s action, and we get a sense of who these people are, what they enjoy, and where their focus may lie. It’s like going from a fuzzy Polaroid to a clear digital photo, and our interest is peaked.
To be sure, there IS such a thing as too much detail in a resume. There’s no need to chronicle every function at every job, particularly ones you don’t want to do again. It’s critical to find the balance between what needs to be communicated and what just might be too much. No one wants to work through pages and pages of stuff to find what’s relevant to them. But once your resume is complete, it should paint a compelling picture of you, the professional, that gives readers a full picture of your experiences and achievements, as well as a glimpse of what you might be able to do for them. That’s when you’ve hooked them and have the opportunity to reel in your next great position.
To getting the job of our dreams – Cheers!