Myth # 1:

Your resume should be limited to one or two pages

If you have very little to put on a resume, then maybe you only need one page. This may apply to a new grad, or a person who has had only one role in the field.

However, if you have had many relevant roles, experiences, courses, certifications, presentations, industry associations, etc. then it is okay to go beyond the mythical two page limit. A professional with 20 years of experience in a variety of progressive roles WILL need more than two pages!   The first two pages will contain only the basic information on their previous roles – as we’ll see, more detail is necessary.

A prospective employer wants to know why you’re the right person for the job and what relevant experience you have that makes you a good fit. That is the measure not the length of the resume. Do not elaborate for the sake of writing more. Rather, share what is helpful for an employer to see that you are a good fit for the job. Keep it relevant and succinct but say what you need to say.

 

Myth # 2:

HR professionals and recruiters prefer a functional resume to a chronological resume

Functional resumes group key aspects of your experience together so that they are easy to find. However, the reader then needs to figure out when you did what… and usually this is an impossible task. If it is too difficult for the employer to get a snapshot of your history, then you may be overlooked for the job.

A functional resume often looks like you are trying to hide gaps in your past, such as periods of irrelevant employment, or unemployment. In fact, it raises a red flag to an employer and may lose you the chance to interview.

For example, a person who was once a business analyst but has since had several jobs in quality assurance now wants to return to being a business analyst. Given that the person has not been a BA for ten years they use a functional resume to make it look they are currently working in the field. This doesn’t work. It’s better to be straight about your employment history.

Don’t use a functional resume. Use a cover letter to highlight your key experience in specific areas and then provide the company/recruiter with a chronological resume.

 

Myth # 3:

You should keep your resume general and then provide specific examples once you get the interview.

The assumption this statement makes is that you will actually be getting an interview. In most cases, unless you are highly qualified or know someone at the company you won’t get an interview. As such, make sure that you put your best foot forward by providing as much relevant detail based on the job requirements as possible.

Example:

Experience with C# development for news organizations

Vs:

Designed and developed C# applet to process news provided by Reuters asynchronously and distribute it to a variety of internal stakeholders.

On a related note to this, do not write your resume with bullet points that sound like they come from a job description. Eg. “Responsible for ensuring code quality” or “Strong communications skills” these have a place if you are making a general statement in your summary paragraph but should not be bullet points in a job description without further substantiating evidence.

 

 

Myth # 4:

 You should highlight your education at, or near the top of, your resume

If you are just out of school and either went to a prestigious school or have a relevant degree to the job you are applying for then by all means put it after your summary and highlights section. If you have had several jobs in your chosen field and have been working for 5, 10 or more years then put your educational qualifications toward the end of your resume. It is a nice-to-know but not a must-know in most cases.

Alternatively, if you are experienced in your field and did go to a noteworthy school then mention it in your summary but still provide more detail (field studied, when you studied, location of the school and any honours received) under the education section at the end.

 

Myth # 5:

You should write your resume in paragraph format

This is another thing that I see that goes against the “make your resume easy to follow and read” school of resume writing. Rather than write a paragraph, write a high level opening line about a particular area of your expertise and then provide solid examples in bullet-point-form underneath. A one or two line introduction sets the tone and the bullet points give your resume an active and punchy feel and will allow the reader to register the key points as they are scanning your resume – as they will.

While you may rail against this sound-bite resume style, this is how effective resumes are written in our Twitter-driven world.

Example:

Design of a world-class, enterprise-wide architecture and IT infrastructure with a technology upgrade, merger and consolidation for all ABC’s offices, based on Cisco equipment for all LANs, WANs, Centralized Microsoft Active Directory and Group Policies, MS Windows file servers, MS Exchange redundant servers, Cisco Firewalls, fully integrated VoIP phone, voice mail and recording systems, remote connectivity and system consolidation.

Or;

Design of world-class, enterprise-wide IT architecture & infrastructure:

  • Upgraded, merged and consolidated all of ABC’s offices standardizing on Cisco equipment for all local and wide area networks
  • Centralized MS Active Directory, Exchange and group policies

Implemented Cisco-based firewalls and VoIP phone systems as well as voice-mail and recording systems

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