Oh boy, there is a lot of bad information out there about resumes.
Most of it means well, but a lot of it comes from old-fashioned thinking or from people who really don't understand how companies use your resume to decide whether they should interview you or not.
Here are some of the biggest lies that are told about resumes.
1. It must be one page.
One page is nice, and I believe anyone, even the President of the United States, could fit their resume on one page if they needed to. You do that by editing, paring down, and choosing just the most important information.
That said, two pages is fine, too, if that's what it takes for you to present your work history, talents and accomplishments in a way that is easy to scan and read.
More than two pages is not a great idea. You've only got 15-30 seconds to make a good impression, and no one is going to scan more than two pages in that time. Make it easy for them to understand what you do by boiling it down to the essentials.
2. You need to include lots of detail.
A resume is a brochure about you, customized for a specific job, and not an exhaustive detailing of the history of every job you've ever had. Too much information is boring, confusing and counterproductive. Stick to what's important for that specific job and minimize or omit the rest.
3. Never go back more than ten years.
How much of your experience you include on your resume will depend on what kind of job you're going after, and whether there are important positions from more than ten years ago that help prove your fit for the job at hand.
The rule of thumb is not to go back more than 10 or 15 years, but if there's a fantastic job further back in your past that will make someone want to meet you, it's probably a good idea to find a way to include it.
4. A great resume will get you the job.
Wrong. A great resume will get you the interview, and will set the reader up for how you want them to perceive you. That's why resumes need to be enticing and illustrate why you are someone they want to meet. But you'll still have to ace the interview to get the job offer.
5. Everyone lies a little on their resume.
No, they don't. Lying on your resume has always been a bad idea, but in this day and age where we are all catalogued and cross-referenced online, and your education and work experience can be verified in minutes, lying about what you've done is a bad, bad idea.
There's no need to lie. Just tell the truth in the best possible way.
6. The cover letter will make up for what's missing in your resume.
No, it won't. A cover letter's sole job is to get the reader to want to read your resume. It's like the card you give with a gift – it's just an introduction, and you should never count on it being included when your resume is filed and forwarded.
The real information needs to be in your resume. Rule of thumb: if it doesn't say it in your resume, the reader will assume that it doesn't exist.
7. Ugly resumes are OK as long as all the information is there.
That's like thinking it's OK to show up to the interview in your pajamas, since, after all, you're wearing clothes. Your resume needs to look great, be easy to scan and understand, and show that you understand what quality looks like. A good-looking resume will make your experience look better, too.
8. References should be included on your resume.
Never put reference information on your resume. The contact information of your references is confidential, and should only be given out when a potential employer requests it. You don't even need to waste space by putting "References Available on Request" since that's assumed.
9. Personal information is bad and unnecessary.
A lot of people shy away from any kind of personal information, but that's often the section on a resume that can give the reader an idea of who you are as a person.
Employers are prohibited from asking about certain things, but that doesn't mean you're prohibited from voluntarily sharing. Used to your advantage, personal information can reveal more about your personality and what's important to you, which can give you an edge over other candidates.
10. The more resumes you send out, the better.
No, no and no. Looking for a job does require a certain amount of activity, but it's not just a numbers game. Quality is far more important than quantity, so you will get much better results focusing on just a few jobs than you will by just blasting out your resume to a hundred jobs without customizing your approach for each one.
There sure is a lot of information out there about resumes, so always use your best judgment about who to listen to.
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