No matter how much advice is published on the subject, some myths still circulate about the best way to write your resume. Fortunately, a lot has changed in resume writing and job search – and you can benefit from these new trends.
For example, you might have been told to keep your resume to a specified length or to always exclude certain types of information. Given how much has changed in the job market, many of these “rules” have fallen by the wayside.
Take a look at the longstanding myths and misconceptions about resume writing, then see which of these apply to your own resume:
1 – The Single-Page Resume Myth.
This legend never seems to die. Back when resumes were handled in hard-copy form, employers and recruiters admonished job seekers to keep their documents to a single page. Perhaps this made collecting all those pieces of paper easier, or maybe it was simpler to avoid typos when creating a one-pager.
No matter the reason, the one-page resume can now officially retire, particularly if you have more than 15 years of experience. Why? Not only will an employer’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) process a large amount of data from most resumes, but companies are also accustomed to resumes that exceed one page (particularly for executives).
You’ll also save the interviewer’s eyes by bumping the font to at least 10 points, rather than shrinking the text to fit into a too-tight, single-page document.
2 – The Job Description Resume Myth.
If you’ve ever read a job description, you know that “supports user communities and department stakeholders” is a dull and generic way to convey your duties. Yet, too many job seekers, from entry to executive-level candidates, rely on these canned, lengthy descriptions to show the breadth of their work.
It’s time to stop this myth in its tracks with a reminder that employers don’t hire your past job descriptions, they hire your capabilities, skills, and work style – hoping to find a candidate who will dive into new challenges and solve their business problems. As shown in this CEO resume, a list of core competencies (listed under Areas of Expertise) can convey relevant skills, while the Executive Performance Benchmarks adds attention-getting specifics of career achievements.
It’s your achievements, competencies, and career wins that need to take center stage on your resume, rather than stock phrases that could apply to anyone. Take the time to qualify your accomplishments with metrics (please!) that show exactly how much your work impacted the bottom line, rescued a critical project, or saved costs.
3 – The Resume Formatting Myth.
Nothing is harder to skim in the digital age than black-and-white, lackluster documents that do little to distinguish each candidate. Even worse, too many candidates use a stock resume template, making their resume format look like a last-minute decision.
Your best bet, however, is to take some time and care with the presentation of your resume, just as you would with any business document. While a tremendous amount of color is not a necessity, a touch of flair and emphasis on key words (shown in these resume examples for a CFO and Program Manager) can help set off important data.
If you want to push the envelope a bit further, consider giving your resume a powerful dose of graphics that showcase achievements. By honing in on the most valuable parts of your experience, your resume can “direct” employers to take note of these career wins.
4 – The “I Can’t Put THAT on My Resume” Myth.
The truth is, anything goes – as long as it qualifies you and gets the type of attention you deserve in your job search.
In years past, job seekers often left out the context of their achievements from the resume, fearing that the document would become too long. Now, you’ll benefit more from explaining just how you motivated the sales team or negotiated a new vendor discount, since these examples will reinforce your personal brand message.
To get in the right frame of mind for writing about your background, think in terms of the C-A-R (Challenge-Action-Result) format. By describing the situation you inherited (the Challenge), the steps you took to improve or resolve a problem (your Actions), and the outcome that benefited the company (the Result), you’ll present a stronger picture of leadership competency and agility.
Consider also that feedback from others, particularly notable leaders in your field, will underscore your message. By pulling in a quote or accolade, you’re giving employers a quick view of the reasons your contributions are valuable in a new role.
You can even explain a reason for leaving a past job (long considered taboo on a resume) by noting “Completed XYZ Project prior to company spin-off as a new division.”
The bottom line: take a look at current resume trends and pay attention to resume writing ideas that fit your unique situation, rather than adhering to resume myths that could hold you back in your search.