Writing a powerful resume can seem like an art form in and of itself. And when doing so, there are various don'ts to keep in mind: Don't misspell words. Don't go over two pages. Don't write a list of vague skills without providing proof you've actually accrued them.
For Nolan Church, who's worked in talent acquisition at companies like Google and who's currently the CEO of talent marketplace Continuum, there's one major red flag. "The No. 1 thing I don't want to see on a resume is probably text bricks," he says, which is to say "endless streams of text that have a lot of words but not a lot of content."
When he sees one of those, "there's zero chance you're going to move forward," he says. Here's his advice on making sure your resume is clean of endless text.
Church often sees text blocks under the specific descriptions of each role.
"When people describe what they've been doing, they often have a hard time being concise," he says. Below each job title should be a series of one-line bullets. Instead, people will write "three to four sentences per bullet."
(This article features an acceptable resume format.)
In today's world of constant text communication, short, to-the-point communication is crucial. At the office, for example, so much communication happens over email and Slack. "If you can't succinctly describe what you've been doing in your career," he says, "there's just no way you're going to be able to succinctly write in the workplace."
There are numerous ways to cut down your language.
"It's just too easy to use tools like ChatGPT or Grammarly to actually clean that up, to help you not only with punctuation, grammar, but also brevity," says Church. Both tools are free and ChatGPT offers an app version in which you can input sentences and give prompts like "make this sentence shorter."
You can also have people review your resume and edit it down. "I fundamentally believe that at least five to 10 people should be giving you feedback on your resume," says Church. Reach out to people in your network who've done well in their careers and ask if they'll take a look.
Remember, says Church, "my advice would be to optimize a resume for 10-second viewership." Sometimes that's all the time an HR rep will have to dedicate to your resume. Short bullets and sentences will give them a chance to get all of the critical points of your career immediately.
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