Frequently clients ask me if they should leave certain optional items off of their resume – community activities, work experience beyond 10 years and dates on education are just a few examples. Usually there is a worry about being screened out based on assumptions recruiters or hiring mangers might make, sometimes around sensitive issues (age, ability, faith, personal values).
I prefer talking about how to get screened in.
When wondering what to include in your resume, ask yourself two questions:
1) Is it relevant?
2) Do you feel more confident leaving it on or taking it off?
Let’s take relevancy first.
Watch out for being too narrow in your definition of relevant! I don’t mean is it only literally relevant to the job description. I mean is it relevant to who you are and what you can do? Is it connected to the values of the organization you are applying to? Does it match up with what you learned about the position through networking (information that might not be in the posting)? If you say “yes” to the relevancy question and choose to include an item, make sure you explain why it is there! Tell them how it correlates – doing so leaves less room for assumptions.
So how about confidence?
What you put on your resume tells employers what you want to talk about. Own this document – make it something you are proud of, excited to discuss! If you have an optional item on your resume that causes you pause, that you can’t address confidently, that worries you – consider leaving it off. If this item is relevant and talking about it taps into positivity and passion, consider including it!
We can’t predict what each person who reads our resume wants to see or what particular interesting tidbit could open up conversation.
We can know what is pertinent to the work we want and come from a place of self assurance.
Choose based on what you know! 🙂