When was the last time you tidied up your resume?

Be honest.

It shouldn’t be a big job – after all, it’s probably just a one-pager. But it’s still remarkably easy to put off.

We all know that a resume should be tailored to each position we apply for and that we should ideally always have an up to date one ready to go. But, alas, this advice is not always followed.

The secret to a tidy resume

The species of tardiness at work here tends also to be found at home. Tidying up your house or apartment is a necessary, but an often unappealing, task. The reason for this is that we find the process unrewarding, tedious and, simply, not fun.

That was until Marie Kondo came along. The cleaning sensation and self-styled ‘tidying expert’ has written best-selling books and launched a hit Netflix show thanks to her signature method – which makes tidying up cool, fulfilling and uplifting.

But this revolutionary philosophy is not just good for folding socks. It can do wonders for your resume.

Here we take a look at how Marie Kondo’s “six basic rules of tidying” can help make a big difference to the quality of your resume.

Rule No. 1: “Commit yourself”

The key to this whole approach is to actually take some time over what you’re doing.

You might think updating and reworking your resume is a boring task – but it doesn’t have to be. Done right, it can give you greater confidence in yourself as a job seeker and will help you land that dream job.

This starts with you.

Give yourself the time and space to make the most of your resume, and put your energy into making it something which truly represents what’s best about you as a candidate.

Marie Kondo believes in only holding on to things which “speak to the heart”. Your resume is about you. It should mean something.

Suggestions:

  • Sit down with your resume for a whole day (or as long as it takes)
  • Adjust your expectations: your resume should represent the best version of yourself

Rule No. 2: “Imagine your ideal”

Part of the problem with resumes is that they don’t seem to do us justice. 

A list of your past jobs, a brief description of your skills and a quick mention of your university degree probably wouldn’t be how you’d like to be remembered.

One way to see past this is to envision what your perfect resume would look like. You’d still want it to be concise – after all, it’s purpose is to give recruiters just the essentials of what you have to offer.

Putting your resume in the context of your career plans and ambitions might help you see that what you write today is just a placeholder for what’s still to come.

By the end of this process, you should be proud of your resume – there’s no shame in representing things as they really are.

Suggestions:

  • Sketch out a mock-up of your ideal resume
  • Everything you include in your real resume should be as close to your ‘ideal resume’ as possible

Rule No. 3: “Finish discarding first”

When editing, it’s good to be ruthless.

Before you focus on making the most of what you’ve got, you’ll have to decide what it is you’re trying to say.

Your resume shouldn’t include anything just for the sake of it, or because of a convention.

Your aim is to fulfil the expectations of recruiters, and your resume should answer only the questions they’re likely to be asking of candidates.

This means your resume should be relevant specifically for the job you’re applying for.

Recruiters don’t have time to wade through unnecessary information and will react negatively to a resume that forces them to work hard just to find the basic details.

Your task is to make your resume as easy and convincing as possible.

Suggestions:

  • Put yourself in the shoes of recruiters, and include only what is relevant for them
  • Remove anything that is not essential for convincing recruiters you’ve got what it takes to do the job in question
  • Create a resume that can be easily and routinely edited for each application

Rule No. 4: “By category, not by location”

The more coherent your resume is, the more convincing it will be.

Most people focus on each section – say, ‘Skills’, ‘Past experience’, ‘Education’ – independently, treating them as separate entities.

In truth, recruiters will not. They will be looking for specific details about certain things (key skills, relevant work, years of experience, where your degree certificates are from) in order to paint a picture of you as a whole.

Sections won’t be viewed in isolation.

For this reason, it is best to think about how your core skills, say, can be communicated across your resume as a whole.

How does your education relate to your skills? Does your headline description match up to your past experience?

Suggestions:

  • Don’t work on sections independently; edit your resume as a whole at all times
  • Identify the key details recruiters are looking for and ensure they are present throughout
  • Ensure each section of your resume is mutually reinforcing with the others

Rule No. 5: “Follow the right order”

Another reason why we tend to put off working on our resumes is that it can be time-consuming.

With little space to work with, we might find ourselves tinkering with sentences and bullet points to little avail.

So it’s important to come at your resume with a solid plan of action.

Just as it can be ruinous to sort through old photographs before you’ve mastered tidying away jumpers, it can be equally inefficient to write a headline and summary before you’ve tied down what your resume is actually going to say.

It’s best to do things this way:

  1. Identify your key skills relevant to the job you’re applying for
  2. Select the most relevant (and important) work experience and summarize in the context of your application
  3. List the most relevant (and important) education you’ve undertaken
  4. Identify additional skills that may support your application (e.g. languages, software proficiency)
  5. Include names of relevant referees
  6. Write a headline and personal summary
  7. Double-check contact details
  8. Add a profile picture (if relevant)

Rule No. 6: “Ask yourself if its sparks joy”

This has become Marie Kondo’s catchphrase. No self-respecting application of her method would be complete without it.

When it comes to your resume, “joy” is indeed something to aim for.

Recruiters are hardly likely to be impressed by a resume that you don’t even take pride in yourself. 

And they won’t thank you for including details which are not persuasive and in full support of your application.

At the end of the day, recruiters want to be wowed. They want your application to bring them the joy of having found a suitable candidate. Make that your goal.