Past IssuesApril 08, 2013
Resume Writing Myths and Mistakes To Avoid
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Resume Writing Myths and Mistakes to Avoid
By Jacquelyn Smith, Contributing Writer at Forbes Magazine
As a dedicated job seeker, you've probably spent hours writing, tailoring and blasting your perfectly polished resume. You're confident you have done everything right: The flawless document is confined to one page; includes a clear objective; and lists a plethora of soft skills.
But as it turns out, contrary to popular belief, those features don't necessarily make for an ideal resume.
Here are 12 resume writing myths:
Myth: You must include references. While references will likely matter further into the interview process, noting on your resume that 'references are available upon request' will not make your resume stand out.
Myth: You must keep your resume to one page. Not true! Page count is not as important as the number of words on the page. So what's the magic word count that keeps recruiters reading? About 390 words per page.
Myth: Spelling errors immediately disqualify you. It's very important to proofread your resume before emailing it out, but spelling and grammatical mistakes do not necessarily mean your resume ends up in the trash. Recruiters are more focused on work experience to determine fit. A good habit is to re-read your resume whenever applying. Fresh eyes can catch mistakes previously overlooked.
Myth: Using graphs are a waste of space. Tina Nicolai, a resume writer and executive career coach, says graphs tell a compelling story of financial earnings, savings, turnarounds, and more. "Graphs are a fantastic method of grabbing a person's attention," she says. "We are living in a point and click society. Apps are causing us to have a shorter attention span. By including a graph, we are able to tell a story quickly and succinctly to hiring leaders and recruiters who may not have time to read the entire resume."
Myth: Fancy formatting matters. As it turns out, it doesn't. Many of the resume parsers used by job-apply services will destroy any formatting you use on your resume. Even bullets on a resume can sometimes cause encoding problems. The best format to use is the simplest.
Myth: You need an objective statement. Once it was imperative that you start your resume with a statement declaring your career objective. These days, recruiters are more interested in your experience and qualifications and are likely to skip over this section entirely.
Myth: Include all of your soft skills. In an attempt to match a job ad's requirements, some job seekers overuse the listed soft skills, such as 'strong team leader,' without placing enough emphasis on accomplishments. Some job seekers go as far as copying entire sentences from a job ad into their resume practically verbatim. Collectively, this creates a generic resume. A resume with achievements that tells a story is best.
Myth: Never use color. Color makes a statement and is an extension of your personal brand. In today's career world, a fully functioning and eye-catching resume includes an inclusive marketing strategy including splashes of color and tightly written copy. All colors, when used appropriately, have their place on resumes; from CEO's to entry-level.
Myth: Achievements should be highlighted in a separate section. Recruiters tend to focus on your overall work experience and are looking for related achievements from each position you've held. Laying out your achievements in a separate section will likely cause recruiters to skip it in order to get to the meat of your work experience. To really put your achievements front and center, include them in a list under each relevant position.
Myth: Full name, address, email and phone number are required. Having a contact section has no impact on a recruiter's decision to take your resume out of the slush pile. However, if you want to land that interview, make the recruiter's job as easy as possible and include as much contact information as you are comfortable with sharing.
Jacquelyn Smith is a contributing writer at Forbes Magazine, She writes and reports stories for the Leadership channel about jobs and careers, personal finance, sales leadership, marketing, and advertising. She also conducts extensive interviews with corporate executives and industry leaders.