Job Tips

Don’t Include These Things On Your Résumé

When it comes to writing a résumé, what you leave out matters just as much as what you choose to highlight. Deleting the following can boost your chances of landing an interview and, hopefully, a job:

Goals and Objectives

The biggest challenge in writing a résumé is making the most of relatively limited space. Even for people at the beginning of their careers, it can prove difficult to condense accomplishments and experience down to an efficient number of bullet-points, while still including a list of your skills. Like the crew of an overloaded ship in a rough storm, you should always be looking for anything on your résumé that you can chuck overboard with relatively little complaint. A prime candidate: the goals and objectives section.

Why that section? It fits better as part of your cover letter. Your résumé is the place to list what you’ve done, not describe why you want a job, or what you’re doing with your professional life.

Images or Photos

Some tech pros like to liven their résumé up with graphics and images. They might insert their portrait beside their name and address at the top, for example, or create a cool design that runs along the left and right margins. While creativity is a desirable trait in any job candidate, HR staffers and recruiters tend to find such visual efforts distracting. Worse, something like a portrait takes up valuable space that could be reserved for worthier uses (i.e., more text).

Salary Ranges and Benefits

The time to talk salary is after your prospective company makes an offer; same with benefits. Despite that sage advice, some tech pros still list the salaries they earned at their previous positions, and sometimes even put their desired salary range at the top of their résumés; either of those actions places them at a disadvantage when it comes time to negotiate with a new employer.

Extracurricular Activity

Listing your skills on a résumé is vital. Listing what you like to do for fun, not quite so much. You’ll have lots of time in the actual job interview to explain your love of movies or Ultimate Frisbee; but when writing your résumé, focus on your hard skills and accomplishments.

Don’t Include These Things In a Cover Letter

When it comes to job applications, many candidates treat the cover letter as an afterthought. This is a mistake; your cover letter (along with your résumé) is your first chance to make a dynamite impression on a recruiter or company’s HR staff.

If you want your cover letter to enhance your application and résumé, make sure you avoid the following things:

Overreliance On a Template

Many candidates’ first error: Relying too much on a template to build their cover letter. Although your cover letter shouldn’t be too informal, it should also showcase your unique skills and personality. You’re telling a story—the narrative of you as an awesome professional.

Most templates begin in a very standard-issue way. “My name is [X], and I am applying for the position of [X],” for example. Sure, you’re conveying the information, but you’re not grabbing the attention of someone who’s devoting a very limited amount of time to reading your materials. Instead, focus on a pithy opening that “grabs” the reader. For example:

“Ever since I used Hadoop to save my dog’s life when I was eighteen, I’ve been fascinated with data analytics.”

Chances are good that nobody’s ever used an open-source framework for distributed data processing to save a beloved canine’s life, but you get the point: Your first paragraph should ensure they want to read your second (and third) paragraph.

Going Over One Page

While some tech pros will debate all day over whether you should write a résumé longer than one page, keeping your cover letter to one page is a chiseled-in-stone law. The best cover letters not only convey your experience and skills, but do so in as expedited a manner as possible.

Passive Verbs

Just as with your résumé, use active verbs whenever possible to convey your responsibilities and accomplishments; reliance on passive verbs and sentence structures will do nothing but drain the energy from your descriptions.

Generic Salutation

Salutations are potential minefields. “Dear sir” could come off as sexist; “To Whom It May Concern” or “To Sir or Madam” shows you didn’t do enough research. Engage in a bit of online searching, find the name of the hiring manager you want to impress, and use their first and last name in the salutation; that will help you avoid stepping on a landmine. (Even if your application package doesn’t end up in front of the hiring manager you’ve addressed, your attention to detail will be noted.)

Typos and Incorrect Grammar

Such things obviously have no place in your cover letter. While it’s tempting to shoot out a cover letter and résumé without having someone else read it over—especially if you’re applying for a lot of jobs within a short period, and think you don’t have the time for a second pair of eyes—any proofreading is always worth it, because the alternative is never getting a call for a job interview if you have a typo (or three).

 

Résumé Tip: Add Numbers for Context

You’ve heard the advice innumerable times: When writing your résumé, make sure to emphasize what you accomplished in each position. There’s just one little issue: Everybody else applying for the same job is also using “power verbs” such as “grew,” “launched,” “created,” and “amplified” to describe what they’ve done. How best to stand out?

Using numbers is an effective way of doing so. For example, rather than writing, “Designed and launched a Website that experienced massive growth,” offer some additional context: “Designed and launched a Website in six months that experienced 500 percent traffic growth in its first year.” Simply by adding a few digits, you demonstrate that you’re capable of producing a successful product on a tight deadline.

If you’re in a managerial role, numbers similarly help. Instead of:

  • “Managed a team”
  • “Grew revenue”

Try:

  • “Managed a team of 15 people”
  • “Helped revenue grow by 15 percent y/y”

The more you focus on specific KPIs and ROI, the more you show your effectiveness and value to any company for which you choose to work. Money and time are always good metrics to apply to résumés, especially if you helped grow the former while saving on the latter; project growth (whether users, downloads, or whatever relevant number) is likewise valuable. Even adding just a handful of numbers can have a massive impact on your chances of being hired.

 

Power verbs bring your résumé to life.

They paint a picture for the reviewer by highlighting your skills and accomplishments, affirm your communication skills, and help you stand out in a crowd. Begin each statement or phrase with a power verb, then take you résumé to the next level, by inserting action-packed power verbs into your work history and branding statement.

Tip: Remember to use present tense verbs in your profile and qualifications summary and when creating task, responsibility and accomplishment bullets for a current position. Use past-tense verbs to describe prior positions and experience in your work history.

There are literally thousands of verbs to choose from, so feel free to share your favorites. Here are some of our suggestions (by category) to help you get started.

 
 
• Accelerated • Generated • Prescribed
• Accomplished • Grew • Produced
• Achieved • Honored • Prevailed
• Arose • Improved • Raised
• Attained • Increased • Realized
• Awarded • Introduced • Reduced
• Chosen • Lessened • Revitalized
• Completed • Mastered • Streamlined
• Consummated • Maximized • Surpassed
• Circumvented • Minimized • Topped
• Established • Outperformed • Transformed
• Exceeded • Overachieved • Won
• Founded • Overcame

 

Communication

 

• Addressed • Disseminated • Profiled
• Advertised • Documented • Proofread
• Advised • Drafted • Publicized
• Alerted • Edited • Published
• Amended • Emailed • Queried
• Announced • Generated • Questioned
• Answered • Emphasized • Recorded
• Arbitrated • Explained • Relayed
• Articulated • Expressed • Reported
• Authored • Framed • Responded
• Branded • Highlighted • Rewrote
• Briefed • Informed • Scribed
• Broadcasted • Interacted • Search Engine Optimized (SEO’d)
• Chronicled • Interfaced • Shared
• Circulated • Interpreted • Socialized
• Cited • Interviewed • Specified
• Clarified • Liaised • Spoke
• Commended • Listened • Suggested
• Communicated • Logged • Synthesized
• Compiled • Mediated • Talked
• Condensed • Moderated • Telegraphed
• Consulted • Narrated • Transcribed
• Contacted • Notated • Translated
• Conveyed • Notified • Transmitted
• Convinced • Outlined • Tweeted
• Corresponded • Penned • Verbalized
• Crowd Sourced • Portrayed • Wrote
• Debated • Posted
• Defined • Presented
• Detailed • Proclaimed

 

Creativity/Innovation

 

• Accentuated • Drew • Merchandised
• Advertised • Enhanced • Originated
• Animated • Enlivened • Patented
• Architected • Envisioned • Personalized
• Brainstormed • Exhibited • Piloted
• Captivated • Fashioned • Pioneered
• Captured • Formulated • Photographed
• Composed • Graphed • Redesigned
• Conceived • Hypothesized • Renewed
• Conceptualized • Illustrated • Revolutionized
• Crafted • Imaged • Sculpted
• Created • Imagined • Shaped
• Customized • Improvised • Showcased
• Designed • Initiated • Sketched
• Devised • Innovated • Storyboarded
• Differentiated • Instituted • Unveiled
• Displayed • Invented • Visualized
• Drafted • Marketed

 

Leadership

 

• Advocated • Enabled • Led
• Aroused • Energized • Lobbied
• Assembled • Encouraged • Mentored
• Bolstered • Engaged • Mobilized
• Campaigned • Enlisted • Modeled
• Catapulted • Enticed • Moderated
• Chaired • Enthused • Motivated
• Challenged • Focused • Nurtured
• Championed • Furthered • Parlayed
• Coached • Garnered • Persuaded
• Compromised • Guided • Rallied
• Counseled • Ignited • Sparked
• Drove • Influenced • Spearheaded
• Elected • Infused • Spurred
• Elicited • Inspired • Steered
• Empowered • Instilled • Stimulated

 

Management/Supervisory

 

• Absorbed • Discharged • Prepared
• Accounted for • Dissolved • Prioritized
• Accrued • Dispensed • Procured
• Acted • Dispersed • Projected
• Adopted • Doubled • Promoted
• Administered • Economized • Provisioned
• Aligned • Elevated • Pruned
• Allocated • Eliminated • Quantified
• Amended • Enacted • Ratcheted
• Anticipated • Ensured • Rated
• Appointed • Estimated • Reapportioned
• Appraised • Examined • Recognized
• Appropriated • Executed • Recommended
• Approved • Extracted • Recruited
• Assessed • Facilitated • Redefined
• Audited • Forecasted • Reinforced
• Augmented • Fought • Reigned in
• Authorized • Fulfilled • Reorganized
• Avoided • Furnished • Researched
• Benchmarked • Funded • Restructured
• Budgeted • Gained • Required
• Calculated • Gauged • Reversed
• Capitalized • Governed • Reviewed
• Carried out • Hired • Revised
• Carved out • Injected • Risked
• Cemented • Intervened • Saved
• Charged • Justified • Seized
• Charted • Leveraged • Set goals
• Checked • Magnified • Sharpened
• Chose • Managed • Shortened
• Commanded • Mandated • Slashed
• Commended • Maneuvered • Solicited
• Compared • Measured • Sourced
• Complied • Mitigated • Supervised
• Contracted • Monitored • Sustained
• Controlled • Mounted • Terminated
• Convened • Navigated • Transferred
• Critiqued • Normalized • Trimmed
• Cut • Off shored • Tripled
• Decided • Orchestrated • Turned
• Deduced • Outsourced • Vetted
• Delineated • Oversaw • Weighed
• Delegated • Planned • Withstood
• Designated • Praised
• Directed • Predicted

 

Teamwork

 

• Acknowledged • Diversified • Melded
• Amassed • Embraced • Merged
• Anchored • Elevated • Nominated
• Assimilated • Encouraged • Organized
• Augmented • Energized • Participated
• Balanced • Enlisted • Partnered
• Blended • Forged • Supplemented
• Buoyed • Fostered • Syncopated
• Collaborated • Gathered • Teamed
• Coalesced • Harmonized • United
• Contributed • Ignited • Volunteered
• Coordinated • Joined • Wove
• Cultivated • Married

 

Technical Work

 

• Accelerated • Equipped • Qualified
• Added • Evaluated • Quality Assured
• Adopted • Expunged • Ranked
• Aggregated • Extended • Realigned
• Analyzed • Extracted • Rebooted
• Applied • Extrapolated • Rebuilt
• Assembled • Fabricated • Reconciled
• Authenticated • Finalized • Reconstructed
• Automated • Fine-Tuned • Recovered
• Backed-up • Formatted • Rectified
• Balanced • Functionalized • Re-engineered
• Blocked • Grouped • Refreshed
• Boosted • Hosted • Reinforced
• Branched • Identified • Rehabilitated
• Bridged • Implemented • Released
• Built • Initialized • Remodeled
• Bundled • Installed • Replicated
• Calculated • Integrated • Restored
• Calibrated • Isolated • Retooled
• Certified • Launched • Retrieved
• Changed • Licensed • Retrofitted
• Checked • Linked • Revamped
• Classified • Loaded • Revised
• Cleaned • Maintained • Road mapped
• Cleansed • Manufactured • Rolled out
• Cleared • Mapped • Rotated
• Coded • Mechanized • Routed
• Collocated • Merged • Safeguarded
• Computed • Migrated • Salvaged
• Computerized • Mined • Scanned
• Configured • Mirrored • Scoped
• Consolidated • Mobilized • Scrubbed
• Constructed • Modeled • Secured
• Corrected • Modified • Selected
• Debugged • Moved • Sequenced
• Deciphered • Networked • Solved
• Decoded • Neutralized • Stabilized
• Dedicated • Operated • Standardized
• Defended • Optimized • Straddled
• Delivered • Overhauled • Systematized
• Deployed • Packaged • Tested
• Digitized • Patched • Toggled
• Discovered • Penetrated • Traced
• Dispatched • Pinpointed • Transitioned
• Distributed • Prevented • Updated
• Duplicated • Prioritized • Upgraded
• Enabled • Processed • Validated
• Engineered • Programmed • Verified
• Enhanced • Protected • Virtualized
• Eradicated • Prototyped • Web-enabled
• Estimated • Provisioned

 

Training

 

• Assessed • Enriched • Lectured
• Adapted • Enrolled • Showed
• Advised • Familiarized • Taught
• Demonstrated • Honed • Trained
• Demystified • Indoctrinated • Tutored
• Dispensed • Informed
• Educated • Instructed

 

User/Technical Support Experience

 

• Appeased • Formatted • Resolved
• Allayed • Inspected • Responded
• Ascertained • Inventoried • Satisfied
• Assisted • Investigated • Scheduled
• Assured • Issued • Served
• Cabled • Labeled • Serviced
• Closed • Located • Set up
• Connected • Logged • Shipped
• Corrected • Monitored • Supported
• Diagnosed • Performed • Sustained
• Dispatched • Pleased • Ticketed
• Dissected • Prioritized • Tracked
• Eased • Racked • Trailed
• Escalated • Remedied • Triaged
• Expedited • Repaired • Troubleshot
• Fixed • Requisitioned • Uncovered