Describe Your Work Experience So a Child Can Understand It

One of the most common mistakes job seekers make is over complicating their background.  Unless you are seeking the same job from a similar company, it unlikely the hiring manager will understand all the details of the job.  This problem is magnified if the hiring manager is an individual outside your functional area.

It is common for a team of people to assess candidates.  At least one will be in your functional area, but the others could be from completely different departments.  They may understand the basics of the job being filled, but are unlikely to be experts in the career field you are pursuing. 

Most people assessing your resume and interviewing you will not understand what you have done if you don’t explain it clearly.  Surprisingly, some of the most confusing and difficult to comprehend resumes are also some of the longest resumes.  The problem comes from the detail.  Providing a ton of details, staying in the weeds so to speak, will make it difficult for a reader to understand your experience. 

The solution is to keep it simple.  Explain each role you have had in a sentence or two simple enough that a person with no familiarity with your career field could understand.  How would you explain your job to a child in middle or high school?  If you can explain your background very briefly in a way that is easy to understand, your resume will be much more effective. 

Making your resume easy to digest for anyone requires you to explain very technical terms and to use few if any acronyms.  Use terminology most people will understand and your resume will be easier to read.

Keeping your resume simple doesn’t mean you discard every technical detail.  If you need to provide technical details of what you have done, explain them a little.  If you provide a simple general explanation of what you did and then provide the technical details, most people will be able to understand the significance of what you wrote, even if they don’t understand every detail. 

Bottom line:  If you don’t write about it on your resume, it never happened, and if you write about it a complicated, confusing way that is difficult for most people to understand, it never happened.  Make your resume accessible to as wide an audience as possible.  If it can only be understood by the primary hiring manager, it is unlikely it will ever make it into that person’s hands.  Resume screeners are likely to delete it before it ever gets to the person that can understand it.