Monday, October 29, 2012

Five Resume Myths That Are Hurting Your Job Search

A quick Google search for "career advice" returns over 15 million hits. That's a lot of career advice. And, as you would imagine, some of the it is good, and some of it...well...leaves a lot to be desired. In this series, I will delve into the pieces of advice that are outdated, unsubstantiated, or just flat-out wrong. First up: resumes.

1. A resume should only be one page: A resume can be over one page if your experience allows. If you are a professional with over three years experience in one field, it's entirely possible to have a resume over one page. Recent college graduates, however, will most likely have a one-page resume unless extensive experience in college calls for two. A resume beyond two pages is dicey, though, unless you are a senior executive (vice president or above) or are creating a curriculum vitae.

2. A resume should only list positions chronologically: This is a myth to an extent, as many job-seekers will use functional resumes to try and hide gaps in their employment (a big no-no). However, it is entirely acceptable to highlight first those jobs that most directly relate to the applied-for position. In the past I created two resume sections - "Related Experience" and "Other Experience" - to highlight the experience that was directly relevant to the position and then my other experience that could indirectly contribute. My job history was maintained, but I directed employer to what was most important to them at the top.

3. Every resume should be in a Times New Roman font: With the ubiquitousness of Times New Roman, the look of your resume could suffer if you use this font as it will not stand out. There are plenty of great alternatives depending on your needs, such as Garamond  High Tower Text, Tahoma, Arial, Calibri, Georgia, and Verdana. These fonts will make your resume visually pleasing without being caustic or extreme. Which leads us to our fourth myth...

4. Use a "creative" resume to stand out: Unless your job field calls for it (graphic design, fashion, game design, or other typically creative fields), a creative resume with extensive use of charts and graphics is not recommended. While a creative resume in a creative field will highlight your work and expertise, one outside of those fields will come off as distracting and unprofessional.

5. Every job you ever had should be on your resume: Many people do not understand that a resume is a marketing document, not a chronologic history of every single job they ever had. That position in high school when you are now 45-years-old? Keep it off. Most resumes - except for extreme circumstances - should profile only your last 15-20 years of work experience.

These are five resume myths, but there are most certainly more. What resume myths have you encountered? List them - with an explanation of why they are myths - below in the comments. Or, if you have a question about whether or not something is a myth, leave a comment about that, too.

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