If you’re job searching, you may be hearing a lot of advice about your resume like what it should look like, the content, the length, how far back you should go, etc. The suggestions can be endless and confusing, and the worst part is many of the “tips” are myths. All recruiters have their opinions about the “perfect resume,” but you need to do what feels right to you. That said, here are some of the frequent resume myths I hear and why I recommend ignoring them.
1. Myth: Your resume should only be a page long.
If you have 15 years of experience and your resume is only a page long, chances are you are underselling yourself. You are likely omitting crucial information that can make a hiring manager pass you by. I also see people stretching the margins and adjusting the font size to fit the content to one page. This will make your resume look cluttered and hard to read, which might mean it doesn’t get read at all.
One page is perfectly fine for someone with five or fewer years of experience, or for someone who has only had a couple of jobs in their lifetime.
2. Myth: Shorter is sweeter.
Your bullet points explaining your job responsibilities should be in sentence form. It is more legit and shows that you know what you’re talking about. It also looks better. For an accountant who does month-end close work, which bullet looks better to you?
• Month-end close, or
• Drive month-end close functions including all adjusting journal entries and financial statement preparation.
While we’re on the subject of bullets, make sure your resume has them. If your job description is in paragraph form, it takes more effort for a company’s HR/Recruiter to read it which, again, might mean your resume won’t get read at all.
3. Myth: You should only go back 10 years.
I do agree that it’s only the last 10 years of your experience that is relevant, but you don’t want to make it look like you only have 10 years of experience if, in fact, you have more. I understand why people don’t want to go back to job one. Unfortunately, I can’t say ageism doesn’t exist – but if a company discriminates based on age, would you want to waste your time interviewing with them?
The other side of this? Hiring managers don’t want to feel deceived when you walk into an interview and you’re not what they’re expecting. My opinion is to elaborate on the experience from the last 10 years and only include the companies, dates and titles for anything prior to that time. If older experience is particularly relevant to the job you’re applying to, make an exception and include it.
4. Myth: Assuming a skill set is implied.
The first to sort resumes for many companies might be a Recruiting Admin who may not have experience in your field, or Artificial Intelligence. Both are looking for specific keywords and without them, your resume won’t get passed to a hiring manager.
Don’t omit a skill set because you think it’s a given that you have it. The hiring manager may require it, so not listing it can hurt you. For instance, experience with a specific software can compensate for another skill set you’re missing. Also, avoid using abbreviations even if you think “they know what I mean.” Spell it out the first time and then you can use the abbreviation moving forward.
5. Myth: Your resume needs an objective.
That’s what a cover letter is for. Your objective applying to a job is to get the job you’re applying to. This real estate would be better utilized further down the page in your job descriptions or highlighting specific accomplishments in a job.
6. Myth: Education is unimportant and should go at the bottom of your resume.
If you are trained in the field you are applying for either through certifications or degrees, showcase it! Companies want to see this and not every reader will get to the bottom of your resume. If your degree is not relevant to the role you’re applying for, but your experience is, then adding education at the bottom is fine.
7. Myth: Your entire resume will be read before your candidacy is decided.
Try to get the most relevant work experience on the first page. It can be at the bottom of the first page, but make sure it’s there. It’s likely the resume screener won’t get to the second page if there’s nothing on the first page that shows you’re qualified.
The big takeaway? You need a resume you are comfortable with and that is authentically you. Tune-out the bad advice so you can showcase your best self to potential employers.
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