5 Common Resume Myths
There’s a lot of bad advice about resumes floating around out there. For example, some random blogger might tell you to create a new resume for each job you want.
Or maybe you have a friend who swears that stuffing keywords into your resume is the only way to land an interview. Meanwhile, your uncle is giving you advice that hasn’t been relevant in decades.
At Empire Resume, we are resume and job search experts and wanted to clear the air once and for all. In this article, we bust 5 common resume myths and tell you the facts.
Myth #1: Include your entire work history on your resume.
FACT: Your resume only needs show 10 to 15 years of your work history.
You may have 25 years of relevant experience that you want to showcase on your resume. However, adding your entire work history gives the employer a clue about your age and that may expose you to age discrimination.
Yes, age discrimination in the workplace is illegal, but it does happen unfortunately. According to research conducted by AARP, 3 of 5 workers over age 45 have experienced or witnessed instances of age discrimination in their workplace. Depending on the industry, some employers even consider applicants in their late 30s or early 40s to be old.
On your resume, be sure to only list dates of employment going back 15 years. If you have experience you want to highlight dating back further than that, list it in an “additional skills” section or in your resume summary. Another way to keep your age under wraps is to not include the year you graduated college.
Myth #2: Include detailed information about everything you’ve done.
FACT: Your resume should be concise, high-impact, and no more than 2 pages.
If you’ve got great experience with a long list of accomplishments, it’s tempting to want to put everything in your resume. But remember, the goal of your resume is to get an interview, not to detail your entire work history.
Highlight your career accomplishments that have tangible results attached. For example, maybe you created a marketing plan that increased sales by 30%. Or perhaps you developed a new workflow that increased output by 20%. You can get into additional details about your work experience when you’re actually in front of the interviewer.
Myth #3: Federal resumes are different than civilian resumes.
FACT: Today’s federal resumes are very similar to civilian resumes.
Whether you’re going for a government job or a job in the private sector, the purpose of your resume is the same—to get your foot in the door and land you an interview.
Years ago, common wisdom held that federal resumes needed to be 5 to 10 pages filled with detailed job descriptions and stuffed with the right keywords (see Myth #5 for more on keyword stuffing). As a result, the true value a candidate brought to the position was getting lost in all of those words.
The bottom line is that your federal resume should be clear and concise and no more than 2 pages total. Use those 2 pages to highlight your experience and your most impactful professional achievements.
Myth #4: Your resume should be tailored for each role you apply to.
FACT: One resume is all you need.
The fourth myth in our list of 5 common resume myths is one we’re particularly passionate about busting. In fact, we have a separate article dedicated to this topic.
Many of our clients come to us thinking that they need multiple resumes. We’ve found that clients are more successful when they have one fantastic resume, but tailor their cover letters to match the job they want.
The cover letter is the space to give your “elevator pitch” and highlight how you have the right skills for the role. It’s the generic cover letter that makes it seem like you’re not interested in the job.
While you’re at it, make sure that your LinkedIn profile matches your master resume. Your potential employer will most definitely check it out and if it doesn’t match your resume, it’ll raise some questions.
Myth #5: You should include as many job description keywords in your resume as possible to pull up in the employer’s ATS.
FACT: Filling your resume with keywords (a.k.a., keyword stuffing) is more likely to work against you.
Keyword stuffing is an outdated practice of adding a lot of keywords from the job descriptions to your resume to rank higher in the employer’s applicant tracking system (ATS). Some unscrupulous “experts” still advocate the practice. There are even some resume review websites that will score your resume just based on how many keywords from the description appear in it.
Despite what you may have heard, keyword stuffing is not an effective practice.
First of all, many ATS programs today can identify keyword stuffing and will block a resume that looks to be stuffed. Even if a “stuffed” resume gets past the ATS, any hiring manager will quickly see that the applicant was trying to game the system.
Should you add keywords to your resume? Absolutely. After all, Jobscan reports that almost 99% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS. But there is a way to do it naturally, so your resume gets past the ATS and still gives an honest summary of your experience and skills.
For example, if the job description keeps mentioning marketing strategy, then don’t just stuff those words into any sentence you can. Instead, include something like: “Developed a strategic marketing strategy to launch new service offerings.” Or, “Led creative team to effectively execute the firm’s marketing strategy.”
Forget the Myths. Follow the Facts.
Hopefully, this article has helped you see the truth about these 5 common resume myths. Your job search is too important for you to simply rely on unverified sources or well-meaning, but ultimately wrong, advice from friends and family.
If your resume isn’t getting the results you’d like, then contact Empire Resume for a free resume review.
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Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.