Here's why you shouldn't fill your resume with every achievement
New research shows that when it comes to attracting potential employers, less is usually more.
Yes, we know you're very proud of that double major in microbiology and 17th-century French literature. But according to new research from the University of Michigan and Israel's University of Haifa, your prospective employers won't be nearly as impressed with this achievement as your mother is. Turns out, the researchers say, too much information might actually dilute the overall presentation of your resume.
In a new study led by professors Stephen Garcia in the U.S. and Kimberlee Weaver Livnat in Israel, people tend to “average” the information in a package (such as a resume) when it is by itself and “add” the information when it is alongside other packages (such as other resumes). In other words, you might be evaluated on an "add" basis when your resume is one of many in a pile on the hiring manager's desk, but on an "average" basis after you've been shortlisted to a smaller pool of applicants.
“It sounds counterintuitive, but less is actually more under some circumstances,” said Garcia.
Added Livnat: “In designing a presentation strategy, it is important to understand the context in which the information is going to be evaluated. If one’s resume is going to be evaluated alongside a large number of other resumes, people are going to want to adopt a different strategy than if one’s resume will be evaluated by itself.”
The authors use resumes as an example, but this phenomenon of joint versus separate evaluation can be applied to many other areas, they said. When writing a paper, for example, it's important to think about how it's going to be received, and in what context, before including several mildly strong arguments in the paper or just sticking to the strongest argument. Or, when trying to sell a product, you might want to single out one primary reason people should buy it instead of including a laundry list. Understanding this effect could mean the difference between landing that dream job and spending another week eating ramen for breakfast.
Interestingly, this isn't the first time Livnat and Garcia have concluded that less is more in their research. Back in August, the pair found that flashy cars, clothes and other items actually repel potential friends rather than attract them.
“When trying to make new friendships, people think that high status symbols will make them look more socially attractive to potential friends," Garcia said. "However, it turns out that potential friends are repelled by the high status symbols on others.”
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