Writing a great resume is hard. To condense your background and accomplishments into 1-2 pages and have it stand out amongst hundreds of resumes is painful but necessary. Crafting a top-notch resume requires being thoughtful and knowing what to include to help you get your foot in the door.
As someone with a unique professional background who has transitioned across multiple business units and now coaches others on how to do the same, I understand how to build a resume that stays true to who you are while differentiating you from the competition. I am also well-versed in helping clients answer the question, “Should I put that on my resume?”
Here are the 10 common scenarios I have encountered and my advice on what to include:
1. Scenario: You worked full-time at a company for less than a year
Verdict: It depends.
No, if you left on poor terms and do not have a reference from that job.
Yes, if you left on good terms and the opportunity fills a resume gap (e.g. time or skill).
Throughout my years of coaching professionals with varying backgrounds, the response to this scenario has often been yes. Explaining a gap in a resume is always something that should be proactively addressed in person and on paper.
2. Scenario: You freelanced and took on short-term assignments while unemployed
Freelancing shows that you’re a self-starter, so it’s important you highlight that quality. Depending on the length of your freelance work, you can either list each assignment separately or put all your freelance jobs under one title (tip: if you have several clients, create a company name for yourself and list all freelance work under it).
3. Scenario: You volunteer for an organization on the weekends
This is a great opportunity to highlight what you’ve accomplished as a volunteer. It also shows strong leadership and project management, and you can use your volunteer work to illustrate skills that are relevant to the position you want. Include this under additional data or interests.
Side note: Use this opportunity to showcase your extracurricular interests to your advantage. For example, one client of mine chose to highlight his commitment to education because his prospective employer also displayed a similar commitment through the company’s CSR efforts.
4. Scenario: You want to share your job objectives with potential employers
Verdict: Leave this out.
While objective statements were once seen as something to list on a resume, this is no longer the case. Instead, focus on the hiring manager’s wants and include a summary statement that will speak to the desired skill set for the job being filled. Here are examples of good summaries for inspiration.
5. Scenario: You are active on social media
Verdict: Yes, however proceed with caution.
It’s okay to include your LinkedIn profile since it is likely your most professional account, but make sure there’s consistency. The part that takes most people out of the running for a job is when their resume and LinkedIn profile do not complement one another and the information does not match. Depending on the job you want (i.e. aspiring digital marketer), it may also be appropriate for you to list another social media channel, like your Twitter handle. Just ensure the content is appropriate.
6. Scenario: You want to include your references
While you should already have references lined up prior to your job search, there is no need to include them on your resume, nor should you put “references available upon request.” The hiring manager will ask for references when needed.
7. Scenario: You have a side business, project or blog
Verdict: Yes, however proceed with caution.
This depends on the job and whether you think revealing this information will help or harm you. Some companies may have policies about side businesses, so make sure to find out this information before sharing anything. If your project or blog is of a personal nature, then include this if it will strengthen your application.
8. Scenario: You have several interests and hobbies to share
Verdict: Yes, if is builds your professional brand AND makes you interesting.
If applicable, interests and hobbies can help build a rapport, though they can also be boring so be thoughtful about what you decide to include (e.g. your love of traveling is common, but your love of traveling to collect different teas from all over the world is unique).
9. Scenario: You are not a U.S. citizen
Verdict: No, however with a BIG caveat.
You should not include this information on your resume, but be prepared to explain your situation at some point. If you have a green card, put this in your cover letter and reiterate this fact during the interview process. If you require sponsorship, do not include in your cover letter or resume but be honest when asked about your work status.
10. Scenario: You left school early and did not finish a degree
Verdict: Yes, if it helps your story. No, if it hinders your story.
The best responses to the interview question, “Tell me about yourself” include a clear connection between your past career decisions and your future goals. Your resume should tell a similar clear story, though not everyone thinks strategically about their career before taking the next step. Therefore, the best way to address this data point is by asking yourself, “Is this going to confuse a recruiter or does it align with what I want to pursue?”
With careful thought and the right information, you can create a resume that will push you to the forefront. I can help as well.
To gain insight into how a job hunting expert would address your specific scenario so that you can reap the benefits of your most powerful and brand-building experiences, set up a 15-minute consultation with me. I have helped professionals at every stage of the job hunting process and will help you feel confident that you have put your best foot forward.