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  • Carol Adams, CPRW


If you're like most people, much of what you “know” about resumes is dead wrong. It doesn’t help that many Internet “experts” and college career centers are still promoting these myths. In fact, it’s maddening for those of us who are trying to help people advance their careers!

Please, spare yourself some wasted time and heartache.

Learn the myths and truths about resumes, and start your job search with the knowledge you need to propel your job search forward

Myth 1: Your resume should be 1 page.

Fact: There’s nothing wrong with a 2-page resume IF you have relevant content that requires the space. Sure, 1 page works quite well for many students and new grads, but it doesn't make sense for a top executive to squeeze all of his or her material into that small space. I’ve written many 1.5 page and 2-page resumes for college students and new grads who have done amazing things in their short lives and whose work history and accomplishments make a longer resume necessary. I’ve also created 1-page resumes for some executives whose short list of accomplishments is so impressive that a lengthier document isn’t necessary.

Get rid of anything that doesn't support your immediate goal, but you should not leave out content that is relevant to your job search, and you certainly don't want to squeeze two pages of information into one page!

Myth 2: You need an objective.

Fact: You need a professional profile that tells employers what you want to do and how you can help their companies. The objective is a hold-over from the 1980s (and before) and is usually a meaningless statement that basically says: “I need a job.” It’s a waste of space.

Every word on your resume must position YOU as the best candidate for the job – the best person to solve the employer's problem and help them with their bottom line. To grab an employer's attention you must make it clear immediately that you are ready and able to respond to the needs they have for a specific position. In other words, the resume is not about you, it's about them.

Myth 3: Your resume should be a work biography.

Fact: Your resume is a marketing document. Its purpose is not to lay out the boring details of every job you’ve had, but to convince someone that you are worth interviewing for a specific job.

Your resume must be relevant to the job you want now. Listing job experience that isn't relevant to the job you're seeking is counterproductive. Irrelevant experience can suggest a lack of focus and/or suggest that you don’t understand the job for which you're applying.

Hiring managers and recruiters have short attention spans so less is more when it comes to your resume. Focus on the experience and skills that show you can do the next job you want.

Myth 4: Your resume should describe every position held.

Fact: Your resume must describe your accomplishments by detailing the results of your work efforts. You want to show employers your “value add.” You provide a value add when you help the company make money, save money, improve processes, improve customer services, improve safety, etc. Use the “what-how” formula to tell employers what you accomplished and how you achieves those results.

Myth 5: Your resume should mention hobbies.

Fact: Hobbies can hurt you. Most employers could care less, but some might view hobbies as something that takes away from your job. Be careful. Unless your hobby is directly related to your work, leave it off the resume.

Myth 6: You can use the same resume over and over.

Fact: You must customize your resume for different opportunities. Many job seekers send out hundreds of resumes and get little or no response. The reason is that they’ve done nothing to help the employer understand why that are a good fit for a specific job. If you want to stand out from those hundreds of applicants, you need to customize your resume for every opportunity. There is no such thing as an effective generic resume.

Myth 7: Your resume will get you a job.

Fact: The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. Hence the above-mentioned need to customize. If you don’t sell yourself in the resume, you won’t get an interview, and without an interview, you won’t get a job.

Myth 8: Include “Reference Available Upon Request” or put references on your resume.

Fact: Don't do either. First, it has long been assumed that you will provide your references when asked, so including that statement on your resume is unnecessary and makes you look old-fashioned, emphasis on OLD.

Second, using a separate page for your references protects the people who have agreed to speak for you. There is no reason that every person who receives your resume should know who your references are. This is a special list you save only for those people who have a genuine interest in getting to know you better. It's especially important not to post your references online where anybody can access them and potentially hassle the people who are in the best position to help you.

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