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Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Blue Sky Resumes is a small team of professional writers and job search experts. We offer one-of-a-kind resumes, smart career advice and fantastic customer service. This is our blog.


Should I Include X in My Resume?


This is one of the most common questions I’m asked by my clients. I write resumes designed to appeal to a specific target audience, and this means I often omit facts and information that I know won’t impress that target audience. And that can sometimes be hard to swallow.

After all, if you see a first draft of your resume that omits key facts, it’s natural to ask “but shouldn’t X be included?” You worked hard for that achievement. You studied for that certification. You put two years of your life into that part-time business. And now as far as your resume is concerned, it never even happened.

Why it’s a Mistake to Think This Way

In most cases, including everything won’t help you impress employers, it will hurt you.

I was working with a client a few months ago who wanted to work in marketing. She did have quite a bit of marketing experience, but threaded in between she also had some volunteer theater management experience and a variety of jobs within the hospitality industry. She felt that her eclectic background gave her the edge over more conventional candidates and she wanted me to weave all the information into a cohesive story.

This would have been a big mistake. Employers don’t want eclectic – to them it reads as unfocused. And they don’t value varied experiences as much as they value a consistent record of achievement in the field they’re hiring for. If you have that, you mustn’t clutter it up with a lot of extraneous information.

When I rewrote her resume, I left out the theater work and the hospitality jobs. As a result, it read as a strong marketing resume, giving the impression of a focused professional who had gained lots of valuable experience and was ready to step up to the next level.

Shine the spotlight on the main story

Imagine being at a play. One scene ends, and lights go dark on most of the stage while a spotlight shines on two actors having a conversation. If you pull your eyes away from the two actors for a moment, you can make out the shadowy figures of stage hands in the background, moving props and setting up for the next scene. They’re not lit because they’re not important to the story – the spotlight tells you where to look.

That’s the way you have to think about your resume. As you’re considering what to include and what to omit, ask yourself “does my audience need this in order to understand my value to them?” If the answer is no, you have to be ruthless and chop it out – no matter how proud it makes you or how hard you worked at it.

For more on exactly how to write a great resume, sign up for our free resume writing course. We’ll never spam you and we’ll never share your information with anyone else.

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Blue Sky Resumes

About the Author

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. Her industry experience includes music, video games, fashion and advertising. She lived and worked in the US for many years, but moved back to her native UK in 2012, where she now lives in the Yorkshire countryside. In addition to her full-time role with Blue Sky, she's a professional artist, so you can imagine why she couldn't answer the 'what do you do with your free time' question! Contact Louise by email.

7 comments on “Should I Include X in My Resume?”

  1. Paying attention to achievements is another great resume strategy. Including less details about the job specifics and including more of your achievements will make a resume much more appealing. Promotions and benchmarks of your career will help illustrate you as an employee that is not only experienced, but successful.

  2. Nancy says:

    Is there a problem with your site or is it just on my end? There is bar w/ free resourses stuck in the middle of the page. It looks out of place. When I click on the resources options, it does go away, but the resource does come up behind it and I can scroll to read it…but the bar is just sitting there in the way. I like to refer people to your site, but since this has been happening, I have been reluctant.

  3. Hi Nancy,
    I think you are probably just looking at the site using an outdated web browser. We can no longer support the really old versions of Safari, Explorer, Firefox etc. as the developers don’t even support them anymore. If you just update, the problem will go away. Let me know if that helps.
    Louise

  4. Thanks for sharing, great tip!!!!

  5. Louise:
    You raise a relevant question…many times clients are releuctant to let go of information. I do ask the following of clients when working on resumes:
    1. What must be true for the opportunity to happen?
    2. Why is what you have meaningful to the reader/influencer/decision-maker?
    3. Which stories will give maximum credibility and visibility?
    Many times, information that isn’t critical for resumes might be handy in an interview. This is a dynamic process after all. Thanks.

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