There is no shortage of information available to job seekers looking to update their resumes. While much of the information is designed to help job seekers develop an effective resume, it is unfortunately also true that some of the advice is contradictory, outdated, or simply poor. So how can job seekers sort the myths from the facts? Here are five of the most persistent myths about the resume, along with the facts that will hopefully dispel them.
Myth: Your resume must not be longer than one page.
The facts: This might be the most enduring resume myth. While a one-page resume was once the standard, two page resumes are widely acceptable today. If you’ve been in the workforce for more than five years, chances are that your list of responsibilities and/or accomplishments would be difficult to condense to a single page in any meaningful, effective way. Most professionals with more than a few years of work experience would be expected to have a two page resume. That said, the key is effectiveness, regardless of length. If you can be effective with a one-page resume, there’s no need for the second page.
Myth: Having a great resume will get you a great job.
The facts: Having a great resume is critical to your job search—if your resume is poor, you’ll ruin your chances of landing that dream job before they truly start. As important as it is, though, having a great resume alone isn’t usually enough to get you a job. To land the job, you also need to be skilled at interviewing—telling your story in a compelling way, and demonstrating why you’re the best fit for an employer’s needs. Your resume’s sole purpose is to get you the chance to tell your story.
Myth: You must list every job you’ve held on your resume.
The facts: Generally, employers focus most closely on what you’ve accomplished during the most recent 10 years of your work history. Unless you’ve acquired some specific experience earlier in your career that would be relevant to the types of positions you’re currently pursuing, you can limit your resume’s focus to that time period. Space permitting, you may consider creating a section listing prior experience with names, titles, and employment dates that fall outside that time period.
Myth: The traditional resume is dated.
The facts: There’s a little bit of truth to this myth. The traditional resume is a little dated, and there are an increasing array of options allowing jobseekers to create online resumes and/or portfolios that could potentially help employers make more informed hiring choices. At the end of the day, though, the traditional resume continues to be the most widely acceptable currency for your job search, and your ability to land that dream job usually comes down to two (sometimes more) people sitting in a room, discussing the content of the two-page marketing brochure known as your resume. The best way to set yourself apart from other job seekers is to focus on writing a resume that is concise, informative, accomplishment-focused, and one which moves the reader to contact you for an interview.
Myth: When it comes to developing a resume, there’s only one way to do things.
The facts: Whether you are developing your resume yourself, or working with a professional resume writer, there is no one right or wrong way to prepare your resume. The resume is a marketing brochure for your personal brand, and the content is a series of choices—some choices make the document more effective, while some will make it less effective. Ultimately, though, those decisions are yours. If you are comfortable with your chosen font, format, layout, and content, don’t be dissuaded by other opinions. The only opinion that truly matters other than yours is that of potential employers, and the feedback you receive—measured in the form of e-mails & calls from recruiters—will tell you how effective your choices have been.