10 Resume Misconceptions Job Seekers Encounter Throughout Their Careers

Over the years, I have had clients come to me with misconceptions about writing resumes, cover letters, and other written information that they have submitted for their next career move. As the world of work is constantly changing with technology, there are still some areas of resume writing, posting, and etiquette that are still valid and likely will be indefinitely.

I was told that my resume can only be one page.

Remember that the resume is your “advertisement” to the employer. Think… when you read a newspaper or online ads, are they long ads or short ones? “You want to catch them fast!” I’m not saying or agreeing that all abstracts should be one page, but your abstract should be compelling enough to entice the reviewer to contact you and invite you to a phone screen or interview.

If you’re networking at a job fair, a one-page resume is good enough. Once you talk to the representatives at the job fair, you leave the impression of waiting for the next step. You can prepare a detailed hiring manager resume or a next level 2 page invitation resume with highlighted skills, titles and keywords.

However, there are certain types of resumes that will be four to five pages long because of the content they contain at the request of the employer. One type that comes to mind is the summary of the federal government. They have an online format for completing a resume, but they also allow you to upload a resume. To learn more about what is required, go to USAJOBS.

Having bad credit will keep me from most good jobs

Be careful here… I’ve heard this is true for many jobs, but NOT always. Still… you still need to be aware of where you stand with your credit. Now, while looking for a job, your credit score is probably the last thing on your mind as you search for a new job. Maybe you’re taking a second or third look at your resume and cover letter, or working with career advisors, friends or family to review it. As of this writing, we are almost done with the financial crisis, but it has become a practice that businesses will consider standard operating procedure for many businesses to do a credit check, along with checking your employment and educational references, or even take a drug test or check for a criminal record. This is especially common with large Fortune 500 companies, financial companies (banks, security companies, federal (US) government, etc.)

I repeat, I recommend that you keep an eye on your credit to see where you stand. A general rule of thumb is to keep your score at 720 or higher to be considered to have good credit. Credit Karma is a site that allows you to review your report and score at any time. Use this site not only while you’re looking for a job, but also to stay on top of your status with creditors and potential identity theft issues. Review this article on CreditCards.com for more information.

Recruiters or hiring managers will call me; I don’t need tracking

Really…follow-up is part of the process of applying for a job. Employers usually list an opening and closing date for jobs. It’s appropriate to follow up one to two weeks after the job ad’s closing date. If the job ad says “NO CALLS ACCEPTED” or “NO FAXES ACCEPTED”, follow the instructions, they will contact you if you meet the requirements they say they are looking for.

I have to list my salary requirements on my resume.

No, you don’t need to list salary requirements on your resume, but if asked, be honest. I train my clients to provide a range when requested by the employer. However, if my clients have already researched the position of choice, I’ll walk them through it in a short narrative format that provides clout when negotiating salary at the interview table.

I will add ‘References Available Upon Request’, hobbies, my age and marital status to my resume

No. It is understood that you have references. When asked to provide them, determine how many are needed and choose which references will best represent you for this particular position. Please contact your references to expect a call or email from this company and discuss the job with them so they can represent you in the best light possible. Please, please, please don’t add your age, hobbies, and relationship status to your resume. This is not required and may be considered discrimination.

Cover letters are a waste of time and are not read by recruiters or hiring managers.

This is not entirely true. Cover letters are used as an introduction and should accompany your resume, whether they are emailed, posted in a workplace, mailed, or hand-delivered to an employer. Don’t think that recruiters or hiring managers don’t read them, because they DO! When writing your cover letter, make it a powerful introduction that makes them want more. A solid fact and figure supporting your credentials in the cover letter can support your case for an interview, which is one step closer to landing that job. There are a couple of exceptions where cover letters may not be necessary or necessary. They are at job fairs or when you are introduced to someone in person. But overall, make sure all of your career documents stand out and are seen.

I can just post my resume on a major job board and wait for the interviews to roll in.

BE CAREFUL with this! I have never heard of jobs that only get a candidate unless they have a rare skill or trade so hard to find in the WORLD. Just because you post on a job board doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the due diligence of following up with the employer to see where you stand. Please continue to comply with the instructions posted on the job board and the posted ad, but DO FOLLOW UP.

I applied for the perfect job that was written just for me – the phone should be “ringing non-stop”

You would not believe how many times I have heard this or experienced it myself. But as well, there are others who are saying the same thing. Not too long ago, there was a Program Manager position that the client knew was perfectly written for them. He tailored the resume for the position, filed the proper paperwork, waited for a call, and didn’t hear a word. Why? Many recruiters are probably receiving a lot of resumes and don’t have time to call everyone. This is true for small and large companies. In small businesses, many recruiters work in roles such as HR professionals and administrative roles and don’t have time to call. And for large companies, it could be the sheer volume of summaries coming in that your phone isn’t “ringing off the hook.”

I always use an image with my summary.

No, break the habit please. I have seen and heard recruiters and hiring managers discard resumes because of this. In many countries it is illegal to discriminate in hiring based on an applicant’s race or gender, so many employers would prefer that you not include your photo as it can lead to accusations of impropriety. The only example of this is if you are applying for a position in the performing arts (dancer, actor, model, etc.), then including an image will be appropriate.

I want employers to see my ‘formatted resume’ on the internet… so I’ll put it in their text blocks anyway.

You must follow the rules that they have established for their online application program. No, it is not necessarily an employer trick or scheme. I have seen where applicants neglected their address and did not get a phone interview or were invited to the interview because the company was unable to read or understand the information sent to them. Applying for a job takes work, so take the time to fill in the boxes and fill in the information they require. Many times they will have a place for you to upload your ‘formatted summary’ on their system.

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