In this article I'm going to debunk some common resume myths.
Myth: Your resume should only be one page
Debunked: Resumes are not a one size fits all mentality, there is no rule that it should only be 1 page or even 2! However, a resume should not look stuffed or overcrowded – remember hiring managers don’t want to have to search for information in confusing side bars or layouts. Focus on sharing your relevant experience and success going back 10-15 years – if you need two pages to do that, fine. Anyone trying to sell you that your resume has to be limited to a page is spewing falsehoods or has no knowledge of resume writing or the hiring process.
Myth: You should only send your resume in PDF format.
Debunked: The only time you should send your resume in PDF is if you are sending it directly to a contact, via LinkedIn messaging, or to a hiring manager's email. You should be sending your resume in Word format when applying on a company website when it asks you to attach your resume or when directed to an ATS.
PDF formats (while they look the best) do not parse through most applicant systems. So, when you send it as a PDF, the ATS sees .pdf files as a picture of text, not text. Somtimes it gets it right - but sometimes it gets it very, very wrong. For example, I had a client who had a Workday application (they are the WORST) that changed every instance of "IT" to a capital H on his resume (UniversHy vs. University). There are some ATS that can read PDF, but it’s hard to know which version a company uses.
Myth: If you have a LinkedIn profile, you don’t need a resume.
Debunked: So not true. In the actual hiring world, 99% of job applications REQUIRE a resume. But you actually shouldn’t fully depend on your resume to get you a job. There are so many more components to ensuring a quick and successful job search. For starters, your personal and professional network should be leveraged properly – in many cases, it’s who you know! Also, having a great LinkedIn profile that's conversational, showcases your value and personality, and is NOT a carbon copy of your resume is the secret sauce to getting noticed.
Myth: Cover letters don’t matter.
Debunked: Cover letters have gotten such a bad rap over the last few years. Why? It’s because many people use generic wording and templates (Think: I am interested in applying for your ABC position and XYZ company; I feel my skills would be a good match.) B-O-R-I-N-G.
A cover letter done right (and free from fluff) can actually give you an advantage when applying to jobs. When emailing your resume, include a personalized cover letter in the email message. Then, attach one file with both your cover letter and resume together (cover letter followed by resume). This way, even if prospective employers won’t open your attachment, they’ll still get your cover letter in the email body. And, you’ll make a great first impression.
Myth: Always list your education first on your resume, then your experience.
Debunked: I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this format, but in most cases, it’s not correct. It actually makes you look like a novice or straight out of school (it’s a format many career centers use). Really, the only time you should lead with education is if you are a new grad with little to no experience. Keep this mind: Your resume is all about relevance. If education is the #1 on the job description list, then go ahead and list it below your summary section. Other than that, lead with your relevant success and what you bring to the table that’s different from everyone else.
Myth: I have to list all of my experience and years on my resume.
Debunked: No, no, no and no. I see this a lot with my more mature job seekers (some even lead with their experience from the early 90s). In order to gain a competitive edge and circumvent any perceived age bias, you need to be strategic about what you share on your resume - and that means early career experience. Hiring managers want to see relevance on your resume and a great resume writer will know how to showcase this for you without discounting any early career success. There is no rule that says you must include dates for all your jobs or even list all of your jobs on your resume. A safe tip is to just focus on being relevant and list dates going back 15-20 years max. And, unless you’ve graduated in the last 2 years, omit dates for your education too.
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