Tips from an Experienced Recruiter: Debunking Common Resume Myths
Author: Jeff Caskey, Recruiting Manager, Workforce Genetics
Trust me when I say that I’ve seen A LOT of resumes in my time in the talent industry. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
What are the common causes of resumes that underperform or don’t capture all that you can offer an employer? How do you avoid falling prey to commonly held misconceptions about how a resume should be put together, where it should live and where it should be sent?
Effective resumes balance telling the salient details about your career journey and your skills (both hard and soft skills) in a way that’s attention grabbing and thorough, yet easily read and digested by recruiters that are swamped with candidates.
A nine page resume PDF that goes back to when you had a lemonade stand in 6th grade or a one page resume that’s misformatted and poorly written just won’t make the cut.
Recruiters like myself review hundreds and hundreds of resumes a year, if not more, which makes scrolling or attempting to interpret your resume impossible—we need the headline and essential points fast so we can make a quick go, no-go call and then dig more deeply into your background later.
In other words, your resume should make things easy for us to get to know you and what you can do with the least amount of time investment up front. We’ll go way deep during the interview process, for sure, but the resume is there to get you into the candidate pool as easily as possible.
Consider this our resume mythbuster episode for the Workforce Genetics blog. Here are some common resume myths and how to bust them:
Myth #1: A resume needs to be a single page.
If you are a recent graduate with no professional experience, then yes, a single page might be enough. If you have worked in your field for 10+ years, then two to three pages is perfectly fine.
Hiring managers want to see the projects that you have worked on and the impact that you made on an organization/products/team.
A entry level candidate that has a multiple page resume is likely stretching things too far and a ten year industry veteran with a one page resume is likely leaving key aspects of their career out. In other words, one page or multiple pages are fine if the length matches your experience level and tells your career story effectively.
Myth #2: Including a headshot on your resume is a good idea.
A resume is not the place for a picture of yourself. It is distracting. Your headshot belongs on your LinkedIn profile page. You can drop a link to your LinkedIn profile in your resume and drive the team to explore some more information about who you are.
It’s also important to note that headshot images can mess with how your resume looks within an employer’s applicant tracking system. Not all tracking systems can handle images without skewing resume formatting. You don’t want to include a headshot that makes your resume information illegible.
I and other recruiters tend to scan resumes, so you don’t want an image to distract us and push important facts down your resume that we can easily miss.
Myth #3: Excluding work experience on your resume
If you are applying for a Director role, you don’t need to include that you cut grass in high school. BUT, your career is your story. We all had to start somewhere.
Try to include as much relevant work experience as necessary and this might require you to customize your resume for particular opportunities. As a general rule, you should go back 10 years on your resume; remember, though, this is not a hard and fast rule as each opportunity requires a slightly different approach. A way to get around listing out every experience is to write a concise summary of your qualifications early in your resume.
And remember, always be prepared to explain why you left a job off your resume or why there might be gaps in your employment history.
Myth #4: Using one resume for every job
Every job has different requirements and skills. Tailor your experience to the job you are applying for. Build a correlation between the position and the opportunity at hand.
If possible, you can create different resume versions for different opportunity types. You’ll likely identify patterns for roles across your job search so create tailored resume versions and then save them by job type so you can reuse them.
You don’t want to reinvent the wheel every time you apply for a job.
Myth #5: Only apply to “posted jobs”
Posting your resume on big job search sites is necessary but it is not by any means the best way to find your next career move or dream job. There are necessary passive job search steps like posting your resume on Indeed, for example, or updating your LinkedIn profile. But this should not be your only approach.
A more active networking approach needs to complement posting a static resume on the big sites. You have to get out there and connect with recruiters like me. Reach out to previous colleagues. Try to connect with people that are in your target companies at virtual webinars, networking events or messaging them on LinkedIn.
Networking is easier than ever with LinkedIn. Use it to your advantage.
Don’t let these 5 resume myths trip you up during your job search. Create a resume that’s clear, concise and focused on relevant skills for specific opportunities while making sure to remember to get out there and actively network with former colleagues, existing contacts and new connections.