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Six Myths About Well-Written Resumes

Jan 1, 2010 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

In today’s job market, your search is competitive. There are likely to be hundreds—maybe even thousands—of resumes sent to some of the job openings you apply for, and hiring managers are looking for any excuse to narrow down the field. Of course, if you have a sloppy resume with a lot of typos, you’ll probably be rejected out of hand. But some things you think may be helping your resume may actually be hurting your chances as well.

Here’s a look at some of the most common myths about writing an effective resume:

If you have an employment gap, fill it.

If you’ve been out of work for a couple of years, your first instinct might be to write a “job description” detailing your time spent organizing fundraisers for the PTA or coaching your son’s little league team. Don’t. If you do, and you’re writing a resume in reverse chronological order, that’s the first thing employers will read—and it’s not likely they’ll read further.

Instead, write your resume in chronological order with your most recent job first—and add a career note at the bottom of the resume with a short sentence about how you’ve been spending your time since your last job. If you’ve been taking classes or getting training while you’ve been out of work, mention that—not your extracurricular activities.

Always keep your resume to one page.

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With jobless rates at around 10% as of the end of 2009, you can’t afford to make any resume missteps.

A single page may not be enough room to sell your skills and background, especially if you have a substantial career history. Recruiters and hiring managers looking for management-level talent are used to seeing resumes that are two pages long—sometimes even three pages long. Make sure you’re taking enough room to really sell your skills and achievements.

Employers care that you’re “well rounded.”

Many job-seekers include personal information on their resumes—they’re skilled at massage, they have a pilot’s license, or they love scuba diving, for example—in the hope that this information will set them apart from others and make them seem more interesting than your average job search candidate.

But this isn’t a good way to set yourself apart.

Most employers don’t care that you have a variety of different interests and skills. They are only interested in skills that correspond to the job at hand. Make your resume stand out by highlighting the benefits you’ve brought to past employers, with specific numbers regarding money earned or saved, productivity increased, or projects you’ve managed—and your resume will stand out in a good way.

Make sure they know about your “soft skills.”

You probably don’t have to explicitly state that you’re a “hard worker” with strong “problem solving abilities” and a good “team player.” If you write your resume well, this will be obvious from your achievements. Instead, highlight specific skills that are needed in your job—skills like inventory management, sales or employee leadership—and make sure your resume conveys that you’ve been successful in using these skills to benefit employers.

Be sure to include an objective.

Employers don’t care what you want. They care what they want. So give it to them. Instead of an objective, start your resume with an executive summary highlighting three or four of your biggest strengths—with  the job you’re trying to land in mind. This starts your resume off strong by selling you from the first paragraph.

Make your resume as general as possible.

Many job seekers make sure every single job they’ve ever held—and every skill they have—is on their resume. That way, they believe they aren’t limiting the type of jobs they apply for. But you really should be limiting the type of jobs you’re applying for—and using a very focused resume to apply. Hiring managers don’t want to read over all your diverse skills and figure out how you fit into their company; they want to find the one resume perfectly suited to the specific job they’re looking to fill. And with so many people out of work, they can afford to hold out for that perfect candidate.

With jobless rates at around 10% as of the end of 2009, you can’t afford to make any resume missteps. With this advice, you’re more likely to create a resume that gets you in the door for an interview.

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