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Your Resume - Make It Work For You!

Debunking some common myths about resumes

There are thousands of resume writers across the country and around the world, and no two of them write in exactly the same manner. In this article, we'll debunk some of the resume myths that are floating around and erase some of the misconceptions about resumes.

Every prospective resume client should read this because everything you hear on the street or from headhunters isn't necessarily correct.

  1. Hiring Managers and prospective employers don't really read cover letters.

    False. Studies have shown that more than 50% of hiring managers and department managers read the cover letter, and place almost as much emphasis on it as on the resume when deciding what applicants to interview.

    The cover letter is your introduction to the employer; it indicates the position you are interested in, displays your writing skills, and shows that you are familiar with proper business etiquette. That means that a good cover letter could help you land twice as many interviews.
  2. The resume should detail your entire work history.

    False. The resume is an outline of your work history, not a comprehensive story. Most experts agree that the resume should never go back further than 20 years; many feel that 10 or 15 years should be the cut-off. In our own work, we usually go with 15, but we will go back 20, or even 25 years, if the information is vital. This usually only happens with executives such as CEO's or Corporate Officers.

    Temporary jobs and part-time work, again unless displaying vital skills, can usually be omitted. It never looks good on a resume to show three jobs during a one-year time frame, unless the client is a contract employee.
  3. If you have great work experience, it doesn't matter what your resume says or how it looks.

    False. Your resume is a marketing tool, designed to draw the prospective employer's attention to it, and to you. If your resume is poorly prepared, no matter how great your accomplishments have been you won't get many interviews because no one will ever see those accomplishments. Recruiters and hiring managers don't even read resumes that don't look professional.
  4. The purpose of the resume is to produce job offers.

    False. In a perfect world, this would be true. We all hope that our resumes will produce job offers for the clients, but the truth is they don't, and can't. The purpose of the resume is to produce interviews. After that, it is up to the applicant to impress the hiring manager enough to get the job offer.

    All the resume can do is increase the number of interviews received, thereby increasing the odds of getting a job offer. However, if an applicant interviews poorly, or applies to positions they are not qualified for, the best resume in the world won't make a difference.
  5. The resume should never be more than one page in length.

    False. Years ago this was true, back when only a few people applied for each open job, and employers only wanted to see a basic description of your previous job functions. But in today's employment environment, applicants are competing against dozens, often hundreds of other prospective employees, and it is necessary to provide a strong list of accomplishments and job functions.

    Add to that the fact that today most people change jobs much more frequently than in the past, and it often becomes almost impossible to fit all the necessary information onto one page.

    We've found that about 70% of the resumes we produce are in the one and a half to two-page range. We try to keep to two pages as a maximum number but on rare occasions such as for corporate officers or technical specialists, three pages are acceptable.
  6. Volunteer activities and personal information are important to detail because they indicate a well-rounded applicant.

    False. If they had their way, employers today would prefer that the employee have no hobbies or responsibilities outside of work. That way, they'd be available to work as often as the employer needed them.

    We never put personal information on a resume; volunteer work or hobbies are only included when they apply directly to the work that the client does or is interested in doing. Even then, we only include it when there's available space on the resume.
  7. You should always print "References Available" at the conclusion of your resume.

    False. Years ago, this was standard practice, but today it is no longer necessary. Employers automatically assume that applicants have professional references. By omitting that section from the resume, you open up more space for important information.
  8. It's acceptable to exaggerate or even lie on your resume because everyone does it.

    False. A person should never, ever lie on the resume, or over-exaggerate their skills and qualifications. The same goes for academic background. Employers today are performing detailed background checks and usually ask applicants to bring in contact information from previous jobs along with copies of diplomas and/or transcripts, and even then may perform a more detailed search.

    An applicant who has been found to lie or greatly exaggerate on their resume or during an interview would be eligible for automatic dismissal. We have seen it happen on more than one occasion.

    Once, we saw an offer of employment withdrawn after it was discovered that the applicant was actually one credit shy of the graduate degree listed on the resume. It's a tough world out there, and employers want an honest employee just as much as they want a qualified one.
  9. A professional resume will always get better results for your job search.

    True! For us, this is always one of the major selling points for our services. Professional resumes perform an average of three to five times better than a well-written amateur resume.

    When you consider that the majority of positions clients apply for are already filled, or are not the right fit for the client, then this higher percentage of interviews is even more important. Like we tell our clients, the more interviews you can get, the better the odds of getting the job you want.

About the Author:

Ronan Kennedy is the President of Professional-Resumes.com, creators of professional resumes and cover letters that are guaranteed to win interviews. Visit Professional-Resumes.com to learn more and read our salary articles, career  tips and career resources.

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