There is a saying, “The shortest distance between two points is simplicity.” Most people would agree with this saying. In both our work and our lives, we prefer those things that make us more comfortable and our tasks more convenient. This preference for simplicity extends to resumes.

By now, you’ve likely heard the statistic: Recruiters only spend about six seconds looking at your resume before they make a choice about whether or not you should advance in the process. Given such a small time frame in which to make a first impression, you need your resume to be simple, clear, and direct. If it instead provokes the decision-maker to think, “Huh?”, you’ll never get the chance to clear the confusion — instead, your resume will go right in the trash.

Wondering if your resume is confusing everyone? Here are three factors that could be a problem:

1. No One Can Tell What Your Industry Focus Is

Imagine you are a director of corporate development. Over the last 10 years, you have worked in entertainment, insurance, and hospitality. Now, you are applying for a job with a fintech company.

Even when your job title stays the same, changing industries means a change of culture and operations. These days, businesses are placing even more importance on culture because that is what gives a company its identity and helps it stay competitive.

It’s never a good sign when a customer has to ask a company, “What do you offer exactly?” The same goes for when a recruiter has to ask that of a candidate. If a decision-maker looks at your resume and cannot figure out your industry, they’ll assume you won’t fit into their company.

2. Your Job Titles Fluctuate a Lot

Starting over in a new industry often means taking an entry- or mid-level career position. If you go from industry to industry, your job titles may reflect your movements in a not-so-positive way.

For example, say you worked as a senior project manager in a tech company, but then you started a new career in retail sales. Your job title may go from “senior project manager” to “store manager.” On your resume, this can have the affect of making you seem like someone without a clearly defined career path.

When companies are hiring, they want candidates who are focused on growing the company in its specific industry. If your resume looks too scattered and incomprehensible, decision-makers will wonder how committed you really are — and how seriously you take your career.

3. You Use a Confusing Format

There is so much resume-writing advice available online these days that it can be hard to figure out exactly what your resume should look like. Different articles suggest different formats, like skills-based resumes or chronological resumes. If you try to incorporate the best practices for all types of resumes into one resume, the reader’s head will be spinning as they try to figure out what you did, why, and when.

When it comes to how your resume should look, every recruiter or hiring manager has their preference. However, the two most popular formats of resumes are chronological and reverse chronological, so you may want to stick with them.

These two formats provide the easiest way to tell your career story from its humble beginnings to the proud professional you are today. When your trajectory is clear, recruiters and hiring managers have an easier time understanding how you will fit in at their organizations.

Steven Lowell is an account executive at Find My Profession.

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