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It is a Dumb Idea to Dumb Down Your Resume

Yellow Duh! Road Sign Against a Dramatic Blue Sky with Clipping Path.It is a dumb idea if you have been advised by the experts to dumb down your resume. Unless, of course, you have been inflating your responsibilities and accomplishments, and if that’s the case, you need to get your head examined.

September is Update Your Resume Month, an annual event launched 14 years ago by Career Directors International. Its intention is to remind everyone – job seekers, and those not actively looking – to set aside time to take a fresh look at their resumes and make sure it is current. This is important, but while preparing to update your resume, take some time to focus on the value you have to offer an organization. Don’t think of ways to dumb down your resume.

The following statements were taken from the resumes of three clients. One client is a regional sales manager, the second a senior sales and marketing leader, and the other a business development executive:

  • Created and executed a common business plan for sales division, just in time for new product launch ensuring early revenue stream for brands.
  • Performed innovative market research and captured smaller companies with great potential. Assisted the growth of three clients into industry leaders during world economic crisis.
  • Transformed organization from system integrator to total solution provider including internet and mobile banking solutions. Retained 90% of existing clients, and increased revenue and market share.

Can you imagine these three clients trying to dumb down their resumes after making significant contributions to their companies’ bottomline? The funny thing is that one of them was told to do just that. Of course, I objected. What’s the point? After you have spent years turning around under-performing companies, or engaging in successful mergers and acquisitions, why should you now downplay those accomplishments? Such advice is from the old resume school. Accomplished and confident managers or executives walk away from such advice and devise ways to reach the eyes and ears of decision makers.

It is widely reported that in 1482, Leonardo Da Vinci, wrote the first professional resume highlighting his skills and abilities. He took a pen and a piece of paper, reflected on what he had done, and came up with a masterpiece of a resume. Unfortunately, some job seekers, including mid-career professionals, managers, and executives, fall prey to job search myths, including the idea to dumb down their resumes. They also buy into other myths such as:

  • A resume should be one page
  • It must have an objective
  • It should have a summary with 6 bullets, and
  • Your resume is too big and with too many with accomplishments

These are real comments that job seekers repeatedly hear. There is nothing to suggest that Da Vinci cowered under the weight of other people’s opinions and dumb down his resume. He didn’t downplay his accomplishments because someone told him it would be a good idea. He looked deep within himself, decided he had much to offer, created his resume and sent it off to the Duke of Milan. Don’t play small with your successes! Somewhere out there is an employer looking for someone just like you, with your unique skills and abilities.

There is no doubt that many people are faced with different challenges, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the job search. People become desperate and vulnerable, and when told they are overqualified, the first thing they think of doing, or is advised to do, is to dumb down the resume. The sad part is that these highly accomplished individuals believe this myth.

All is not lost. Before September ends, take some time to update, not dumb down, your resume. While doing so:

  • Avoid redundancies such as ‘references available on request’
  • Use quotes from your performance appraisals or testimonials that validate your accomplishments
  • Adapt your resume to fit the needs of each employer
  • Focus your resume on your skills, talents, experience, and your potential value
  • Rework the resume so that it attracts attention and have employers reaching out to you
  • Be distinct, be unique, be confident! Break out of the sameness mentality and let your resume demonstrate your unique value

Remember: “Your UNIQUENESS is your greatest strength, not how well you emulate others. ~Simon Tam

Have you ever been told to dumb down your resume? Share your story below.