Michael Sterling

TMI Will Sink Your Job Search: 4 Key Resume Don’ts


TMI: Too Much Information!  The curse of overkill. 


Thanks to Facebook and other social media, sharing our lives is the norm. However, there’s sharing and then there’s over-sharing. Never over-share during a job search.


Don’t Get Voted Off the Island


First, let’s talk resumes. There’s a lot written about what to include in a resume, but not much about what to leave out.


4 Key Don’ts:


  1. Don’t include salary history or requirements. Honestly, there’s not one good reason to mention money in your resume. Even if the job listing asks for salary requirements.  The truth is, if your resume is strong enough, you’ll be contacted. Once contacted, be forthright.
  2. Don’t include references. If you have high-impact or well-known professional references, fine. Otherwise, no. Avoid personal references like your minister or your attorney, unless they happen to be Billy Graham or Sandra Day O’Connor.
  3. Don’t include unnecessary materials. The employer doesn’t need to see items like your thesis, diplomas, newspaper articles, photos or letters of recommendation. Appropriate materials can be used as props during your interview, but not before.
  4. Don’t include personal information. Listing marital status, children, your Masonic affiliation, save-the-whales activism, support group or other personal information isn’t relevant or professional and takes up valuable resume space.


Selective sharing also applies to interviews.


There are two ways to answer interview questions: the short version and the long version. Ideally, you want to be brief but be able to expand on your answer as needed. If the interviewer wants to know more, they’ll ask.


When a question is open-ended, I always suggest to candidates that they say, “Let me give you the short version. If we need to explore some aspect of the answer more fully, I’d be happy to go into greater depth.”


Don’t ramble. Tailor your answer to what the interviewer needs to know. (I won’t ramble on about this!)


By using the short/long answer method, you show the interviewer that your thoughts are well organized, and that you want to understand the intent of the question before you travel too far in a direction neither of you wants to go.  Listening and engaging appropriately are critical soft skills in today’s workplace.


If you’re given the green light, you can spend your interviewing time discussing your experience in detail and land the job!


As a career coach and public accounting recruiter, I work with professionals on improving soft skills – like communication.  I recently outlined the soft skills most necessary for CPA success in my article “Six Soft Skills Every Public Accountant Needs.


Interested in more career nutirition? Check out the Career Wellness library on the SterlingFreeman website.



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