Dear Sam: In writing my resume, I have received conflicting advice on what to include. I have read through job postings and the requirements for them, and I have attempted to include all requirements pertinent to my background. I wonder though, when a posting calls for a college degree — which I do not have — should I list my high school diploma? Also, I do not possess all of the technical skills required for some of the roles, but I am sure I can learn them quickly. What do I list in those instances? — Joe
Dear Joe: When reading through a job posting, be sure to scan the requirements, but pay most of your attention to the actual job description. That section of the posting will represent the language you need to speak on your resume. The requirements are just that: requirements. It is expected that a qualified candidate will possess those requirements. As such, you and your qualified competitors would be competing based on the uniqueness of your experience.
Requirements are what I call “check the box” qualifications — you have them or you do not. Your candidacy should be built on the uniqueness of your experience, presenting that experience in a language that closely mimics the job posting of interest or the theme of positions for which you are applying.
Regarding technical skills, sometimes including skills you have really reveals more about the skills you don’t have. If your technical skills are lackluster, then omit them entirely to leave the question open as to whether you possess those skills.
Likewise, with your education, communicating your high school diploma does not say, “ I graduated from high school,” it actually says “I did not attend college.” Be strategic in your inclusion of and selective omission of said requirements to ensure you are not disqualifying your candidacy. Best of luck to you.
Dear Sam: As an adjunct professor, I have created a curriculum vitae (CV) and embedded links to my website so potential employers will be able to view my training certificates, teaching evaluations, diplomas and lists of seminars and other presentations. I was wondering what your take is on that approach. — Ben
Dear Ben: My first question would be, does it add value? If the answer is yes, then I think that is a perfectly appropriate approach that could add to reader engagement for select hiring managers. However, as I reviewed the links on your attached CV, I question the value this adds to your case.
The training certificates and diplomas are really unnecessary. One does not assume you are falsifying information, so listing training on your CV will suffice; there is no need for someone to look at the certificate. The lists of seminars and presentations are also contained on your CV, so there is no additional value in taking the reader to a link to see the same list twice.
As for the teaching evaluations, they are difficult to read and only a handful of the remarks are constructive comments from college students. I suggest pulling the stronger excerpts onto your CV versus sending a reader to a link where he or she must comb through the evaluations.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, your website is outdated. When you give someone a reason to jump from reading your resume, the information they are pushed toward needs to be impressive, add value and reinforce the professionalism of your candidacy. I fear you developed your website in the late ’90s when we were all learning rudimentary web development and design. Because of this, your website will actually reflect poorly on your candidacy and how relevant your skills are.
Granted, I know you are not teaching web design or programming, but consider the impression every aspect of your candidacy will make — from online to in person. I am confident you can create your best brand on your CV without the use of external links, and that would be my recommendation. Best to you.
Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a leading résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job-search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam’s résumé-writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.comor call
(614) 570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).