Debunking the common resume myths that continue to plague job seekers’ strategies.
Hiring practices, from job screening to interview construction, have undergone a dramatic transformation over the past decade. Despite all the changes, common resume myths continue to plague job seekers’ strategies at all levels. This article attempts to debunk some of these myths.
Myth 1: It’s all about the number of pages.
The one-page rule is probably the most common resume myth. Candidates, even senior executives, use microscopic fonts, leave off important information, use 0.1 inch margins, and resort to a myriad of unhealthy practices — all in an attempt to restrict their resume to just one page.Many well-meaning college counselors advise their students to be concise and limit their resume to one page. That was important when you were a student with little or no experience, but why subscribe to the same wisdom after rising to the ranks of senior executive?
However, there is an opposing viewpoint. Some job seekers mistakenly believe that if they can somehow balloon their resumes to four or five pages, then they will be considered for higher-paying positions. What? Will someone offer me $250,000 simply because my resume is ten pages and redundant?
No. In every instance, content rules. The quality of experience should influence the length of the resume. If you have held only one job, then don’t try to create a five-page resume. If your background merits a lengthier resume, then don’t use eight point fonts in a desperate attempt to fit everything on one page.
Myth 2: Make up that degree – no one will know.
Lying on a resume is the worst mistake a candidate can make. Even if you pass the background check (which is very unlikely considering how sophisticated background checks have become), a savvy employer will discover the deception within days, if not sooner.
Apart from the legal ramifications, we live in a professional world that is influenced by social media. At the touch of a button, HR managers across the country can discuss their experiences. Maintaining a good reputation is more important than ever.
Myth 3: Your resume must have an objective.
The market is full of resume set-ups such as, “Seeking a position that will be beneficial and mutually rewarding and will make use of my experience and education.” If that is your idea of an objective, then don’t bother using one. Every inch of resume space is precious. Don’t waste it on generic information that can be found on almost every other resume. Every character that appears on your resume must position you as the perfect candidate for the job.
Of the 5,000+ resumes I have written, I may have used an objective for maybe a handful of candidates. In place of objectives, I often use what many experts call “branding statements” or “headers.” The concept can be explained with the help of an example. In the case of a clinical researcher, for example, a generic objective would be as follows:
Seeking a mutually beneficial position that will make use of my 10+ years experience in clinical research.
An improvement would be:
HARVARD-EDUCATED CLINICAL RESEARCHER WITH 10+ YEARS PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE
Worked with top five pharmaceutical companies. Leveraged clinical expertise to manage three blockbuster, multi-billion dollar molecules from Phase I to Market.
The generic example does almost nothing to position the candidate but the refined version, in addition to serving as an objective, brings out three to four prominent strengths and an overall value proposition.
Whether you decide to use an objective or a positioning statement, refrain from presenting generic arguments.
Myth 4: Your references must be listed on the resume itself.
Normally, a separate page is used as a reference sheet. This not only protects the privacy of your references (imagine posting their contact information on every job board), but also makes the screening professional’s job a little easier.
Myth 5: I can use the same resume for multiple job targets.
This is a recipe for disaster. If your current resume focuses on your laboratory background, please don’t send the same resume for marketing positions. It is likely that you may qualify for multiple positions or be interested in pursuing alternate careers. If so, try to create a customized resume for each job target.
Remember: When it comes to a resume, never follow the “one size fits all” approach. These myths are just that – legend. Use modern, up-to-date job search strategies to land your next $100K+ position.
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