One of the strongest opinions that most people have about resumes, is that the information within them must be “relevant.” It turns out, however, that many jobseekers, and even resume writers, are leaving off items that could have propelled their resume creations to the top of the pile and resulted in a successful job search.
As an experienced, certified, and accomplished resume writer, a key function of my job is to conduct in-depth information-gathering sessions with jobseekers to gain insights into their careers that will be effective on their resumes. Time and time again, when inquiring into various specifics, I hear, “Oh, don’t put that in… it’s simply not relevant.” Or, “They don’t care about that.”
I’d like to give you a case history of a client who listened to my advice and landed a great fellowship because of it. I was creating a resume (actually a Curriculum Vitae) for a medical student who had completed his M.D. and residency, and was applying for a highly competitive fellowship in New York that offered only two slots nationwide, with many applicants. He phoned me shortly after receiving the first draft to say that his supervising professor suggested strongly that he take out the items I had placed in his resume describing his summer camp counseling positions during his undergraduate years. The professor said, “That’s irrelevant, they don’t want to see that. Only put in your academic and clinical information.”
Based on my advice, however, my client decided to keep the items about his summer camp counseling in the resume, and called me 6 weeks later to thank me. “Grant, the Director who interviewed me not only told me that he chose my C.V. because of the years of summer counseling, but he spent 10 minutes of the interview talking about it!” he stated in a triumphant tone.
It turns out the Department Director who interviewed (and later selected) him had two young children in a summer camp, and was anxious to learn more about how counselors interact with the children. Incidentally, the fellowship he landed was in Oncology, not Pediatrics. He also expressed that he preferred fellowship candidates that not only demonstrated excellent academic and clinical accomplishments, but also had a background showing great “people skills.”
Although this is only one anecdote from thousands I have witnessed in my nearly 17 years in the career development business, I have become convinced that it is often the “irrelevant” bit of information in a resume that catches the eye of the reader.
Grant Cooper is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer, author of numerous career-related articles published in journals, newspapers and online, and is the founder and president of Strategic Resumes, professional resume writers providing the best in resume writing services. For more information visit www.strategicresumes.com.