Mindy Kaling says it’s time to update your resume.
The actress and TV writer gave Dartmouth College graduates some practical and professional advice to remove “proficient in Word” from their resumes while giving a commencement speech at her alma mater over the weekend.
And career experts couldn’t agree more.
“‘Proficient’ just sounds so basic — there’s nothing really impressive about it,” said New York City-based career coach Maggie Mistal, who specializes in helping her clients edit resumes. Instead, she suggests omitting obvious skills like Word and Excel entirely and only listing specific areas of relevant expertise (like coding, for example).
If you haven’t touched your resume since college, here are five other things you can toss or edit:
Out with the old work experience
Every job serves its purpose. If you’re applying to your first job out of college, it’s worth including a part-time summer job you had. If you’re five to 10 years out of college, however, those jobs should be left out and replaced with more recent professional experience, Mistal urges. Edit your resume so that it only includes the most relevant work from the past 10 years — anything else seems awkward and outdated.
“People [out of college] often just add in the new career stuff and don’t go back and take out the old stuff that isn’t so relevant anymore,” said Mistal. “Don’t leave positions on there that are more than 10 years old.” Your resume should still be a concise one page, she added.
Remove your GPA if you’re long out of college
It’s great that you had a 4.0 when you graduated 10 years ago, but Mistal says recruiters and hiring managers only care that you have your actual degree, not that you got straight “As.”
“If you won an award or got academic recognition, that’s fine to include, but it seems the GPA isn’t really relevant,” said Mistal. “It’s more about the degree, not the grades. If anything, it looks like old information that you haven’t updated since college.”
Recent graduates, on the other hand, can feel free to include their GPA when applying for a first job if it’s in the A to B range, says Mistal.
Replace the “objective” section with a short “summary”
Don’t list the obvious objective of why you’re applying for the job. Instead, use that section to list two to three sentences about your professional accomplishments at the top of your resume.
“The summary is something like: ‘Professional with 15 years experience in XYZ industry,’ and then list accolades or successes. The shorter the better. It’s meant to put you in the best light possible,” Mistal said, adding that it’s OK to list things like “Raised over $10 million” for a cause. Or if you’re going after a management role, write that you were consistently recognized for great leadership. Mistal suggests avoiding including tasks you hate performing in this section: Even though you’re good at them, just leave them out if you don’t want to continue doing them at your next job.
Take out your street address and weird college email
In an age of email and Gchat, you don’t need to list your street address and apartment number, Mistal said. Instead, simply leave the city and state you reside in.
“They just want to see where you’re located,” said Mistal. “They don’t care about your house address. You’re trying to save space.”
And while you’re editing the top portion of your resume, make sure you cut that old email address that might ring unprofessional, like “DancingQueen123” or “AnimalLover678.” “Replace it with a professional one,” said Mistal.
Get rid of this generic line
Mistal says the “references available upon request” line is outdated and meaningless in an age of LinkedIn. Of course a hiring manager will ask for recommendations, so just expect to provide them if asked and use the freed-up space to add more to your “summary” section.
“It’s one of those obvious statements because people can look up your recommendations right away,” Mistal said. “They’re going to ask; you don’t need to write it down. It takes up space and it’s one of those throwaway lines.”
If you have notable references who are recognizable in your industry and may boost your chances of getting hired, Mistal said, it’s perfectly fine to list their names and contact information instead.
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