Your resume is a marketing document, not a legal one to be used in a Court of Law.

Detail your work experience over the last 10 years and a maximum of 15. Jobs older than 10-15 can be summarized in one line. Example:

  • Previous employments: Various leadership and commercial positions in FMCG and Retail in Southeast Asia and Europe.

Recruiters search for hard skills – not soft

Break the second rule that suggests you list your soft skills in the resume and LinkedIn profile.

Your soft skills are best shown at the job interview and it’s your hard skills you must highlight in your resume and LinkedIn profile. Recruiters use hard skills to find you – not soft skills.

Hard skills are technical and soft skills are interpersonal. But there is more.

  • Examples of hard skills: engineering, accounting, finance, sales, projects, automotive, manufacturing, legal, PR, salesforce.com, SEO, PMP, Southeast Asia.

  • And examples of soft skills: energetic, agile, team player, self-starter, results-oriented, business professional.

Online applications mean tossing resumes in Black Holes

Break the third rule and drop applying for jobs online. It’s a total waste of time.

Keep dreaming that someone is going to get back to you.

You’d be better off putting a stack of paper resumes on the passenger seat in your car and driving down the expressway with the window open. Doing so, one of your resumes might land on a hiring manager’s desk by chance.

The statistics overwhelmingly show networking as the most effective way to land interviews and ultimately get hired.

Multiple studies estimate that 70%-85% of positions are placed through referrals.

Yes, I know it will take more time to do, but when you personalize outreach and take the time to thoughtfully reach out to people, you have a much higher chance of response and the ability to start a dialogue and relationship.

Stop the job interview and leave if you had enough

Doesn’t matter if you are on a Zoom call for a job interview or in the meeting room meeting the HR Manager.

Break the fourth rule which says you cannot end a job interview early. Of course, you can.

Say this: “Sorry but I hate to use up more of your time. This is not a good match, but I wish you all the best and good luck! I’m leaving.”

Remember that only the companies who get you… deserve you. The quicker you stand up and say no thanks to the wrong job opportunities, the faster you move on to the right one.

Photos are for models and bartenders

There are two sides to this argument. It depends on which side of the table you are sitting on; are you the hiring manager or the candidate?

Break the fifth rule if you are the candidate. A photo on your resume will be used against you! Period.

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. That is exactly my point. I understand why hiring managers love photos on resumes and applications. The reason…

If the hiring manager has a preference for a certain look, and you do not match that look, you risk being excluded right there.

The hiring company will use the photo to judge if you fit the looks that they want a sales rep or a secretary or whatever to look like. Worst case, your photograph will determine if you are invited to an interview or not.

Objectives and references have no place on a resume

Break rule number 6 and drop the Objective Statement and the References Available on Request.

Recruiters and hiring managers don’t really care about your objective. We want to know what you can do for them.

Drop the objective and instead include highlights with 6-8 words, separated by the vertical bar ( | ), font size 16-18, and bold. Place it between your contact details and the career summary/introduction.

  • The phrase “references available upon request” at the bottom of a resume is old-fashioned and should not be used.

It’s a waste of space that could be used for another bullet point with an important achievement.

It’s a convention from another time. When recruiters or employers would like to do a reference check, don’t worry, they will ask you. Or they will just call your previous employers (never your current).

To be ready for the request to share a reference list, prepare a one-page document (PDF) with the names and contact details of the people who have confirmed they will help.

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 35 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa.