Recent findings show hiring managers are finding little to be impressed by in the short window of time they spend reviewing resumes.
More than half of respondents admit to spending less than a minute looking at a resume, according to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, adding the documents are often littered with lies, grammar errors and unprofessional email addresses. The press release states 1100 hiring managers and human resource professionals weighed in on the topic from across industries and company sizes. Other mistakes include a non-customized resume, lengthy text and no cover letter. For those job applicants serious about landing a career, it is a good time to refresh that piece of paper, which 17% of survey takers urge stays to two pages or less.
Resume expert Amy Schofield, an Academy Certified Resume Writer, busted six common myths surrounding what to do when crafting a resume.
Myth: You should use a skills-based resume.
Busted: For years military spouses have been advised to use a skills-based, or functional, resume to skillfully hide gaps in employment and to gloss over all those moves. But Schofield says no.
“Applicant tracking systems are scanning resumes for specific parameters and skills-based resumes aren’t going to pass the cut.”
Yes, the scanning software is looking for keywords, which can be found in any resume format, but it’s also looking for years of experience, which it can easily see on a reverse chronological resume or even a combination resume.
Myth: Don’t personalize your resume.
Busted: Personal branding is a great way to stand out on a resume, according to Schofield.
“If you had an objective statement on your resume years ago, a personal branding statement would fit in that place.” Make sure your statement talks about what you can do for the company, not what you’re looking for.
“Make them want to hire you from the first sentence,” Schofield said.
Myth: Colors make you look like Elle Woods.
Busted: While resumes on printed pink paper with a spritz of perfume is still too radical for the business world, colors can be used on a resume. Schofield advises that standing out is good, but not too much.
“Adding color on your resume is a ‘yes’ as long as it’s a professional color.”
She recommends different shades of blue or deep reds, while avoiding pink, purple, orange or hard to read. Use colors in a few different ways, as a section divider or perhaps put section headers like “professional experience” in blue to make it stand out. Creativity is good, but not too much of it on a standard resume.
Myth: One page is all you get.
Busted: Resumes need to be complete, and for some people that is one page and for others that is two. Note: federal resumes are a whole other ball game and can be upwards of five pages.
“For entry-level positions, stick to one page,” Schofield suggested. “For mid-level professional through director level, two pages are good.” An executive position could stretch to three pages but doesn’t have to.
Another thing to think about when writing your resume is formatting. If you stretch into the second page by just a few lines, reformat it to fit it all on one.
“Keep it visually appealing by playing with the spacing to fill at least ½ of the second page,” Schofield said.
Myth: Volunteer work doesn’t count.
Busted: Relevant volunteer experiences can accent a resume and help you fill in any gaps. And, so could education.
“There are several ways to minimize a gap on your resume,” she said, such as using years instead of months. For example, instead of leaving a job in June of 2018 and starting the next one in January of 2019, you simply put 2018 and 2019.
“For a gap of more than three years, strategically using volunteer positions and education is helpful,” she said.
Myth: A resume is just a list of jobs.
Busted: “A resume is not a list, it’s a strategic document,” Schofield said. Don’t treat it like a list of jobs and job descriptions. Use it to tell the story of your career. Showcase the increase in responsibility as you moved from one position to another. Share the results from projects you worked on.
“And, if using volunteer experiences, make sure they are relevant to the position you are seeking,” Schofield said.
A few other things to keep in mind when finalizing your resume:
- There’s no reason to include references on your resume. Not even the phrase, “References available upon request.”
- Another thing that has become more popular is to not include street addresses in the contact information at the top. Instead, add your LinkedIn profile — with a customized URL — so employers can see more about you online.
Resume trends come and go, but these myths can all go. Even for those military spouses not on the job hunt, it is always helpful to revisit a resume every few years to ensure it keeps up with current trends.