At first glance, landing your next dream job should be easy – write a great resume or CV, send it out and post online, and start fielding phone calls and emails for job interviews. However, many people consider the resume writing process to be one of the most challenging aspects of a job search.
In addition, there are many different myths out there about resume content and creation. With many years on the sourcing side of executive recruiting, I have seen some common myths and mistakes made over and over again. Here are my top 10 resume writing myths, to help make the process as easy as possible.
1. My resume will be read from top to bottom. No, not even close. The reader will be quickly scanning your resume, with approximately 30-60 seconds to grab their attention. Don’t get too wordy or bury your qualifications, make them easy to find.
2. I should only include relevant career history, or only include the last 10 years. Recruiters and hiring managers want to know your entire employment history. The most content will be limited to more recent and relevant employment, but you need to tell your entire career story.
3. I need to completely describe all of my tasks and duties. No! I can not stress this one enough! Keep it simple and while you can and will list some duties, the fact is that recruiters know the day to day tasks involved with the position. You will bore them to death and lose their interest quickly with an exhaustive list of duties, plus you will bury the good stuff that you want to highlight – your accomplishments.
4. I should keep my resume to only one page. There was a time, back in the dark ages when resumes were printed and stacked on a hiring manager’s desk for review, that the recommendation was to keep the content to one page. In today’s electronic age, a two page resume is standard, and still easy to read. You want to use clear and concise language, but defining your personal brand and telling a compelling career story are nearly impossible on only one page.
5. Dates are not important. Providing accurate dates of employment is critical. Most employers will perform a thorough background check to verify these dates, and a discrepancy can end your candidacy immediately. Education and graduation dates are also important – if you leave this date off, it is interpreted as hiding your age and is a great way to get your resume passed over.
6. I need to use colorful adjectives to describe myself. Many resumes contain phrases like “hard-working” and “motivated” but guess what? Most recruiters have never been asked to find a lazy, unmotivated candidate! It is assumed that you have those attributes, so don’t hide the good stuff behind unnecessary adjectives. Devote the resume space to describing achievements.
7. If my education is not complete, I should leave it off. Any education, technical training, professional development and relevant coursework should be included, they only enhance your qualifications. If you have a projected graduation date, go ahead and include it. Leaving off dates only makes the recruiter or hiring manager think you are trying to hide something.
8. I need to include references, or at least the phrase “References Upon Request”. Keep the references off of your resume, but have them ready for the appropriate time in the interview process. Also, leave the statement off your resume – it is assumed that you have and will provide references when asked for them.
9. Fancy formatting and color will make me stand out. No! Please, don’t do it. There are some graphic design resumes that might use a splash of color or edgy design, but keeping it simple is always the best way to go. Your resume will most likely be viewed on a computer monitor, tablet, or phone, and the recruiter will be quickly scanning to find your qualifications. Color and excessive formatting will make your resume difficult to read quickly, and will come off as unprofessional. Use effective language to stand out and keep the design clean and simple.
10. I need to include a resume objective statement. Hiring managers and recruiters know your objective! Why else are you sending your resume to them? Plus job seekers tend to make this statement all about them and that is a sure way to lose the attention of the reader. This is about making yourself appealing to the company and employer, so skip the objective statement and replace it with a summary statement that highlights your strengths and talents.