Resumes are your job search calling card. It is the very first thing you need when you are looking for a job. Unfortunately, resumes are complex and confusing and not at all easy to produce. To borrow a line from Winnie the Pooh, “The most frustrating thing about resumes is that resumes are frustrating things!”
Perhaps even more frustrating are the prevalent resume myths that people accept as fact. Let’s get ready to bust the top 5 resume myths, one by one!
1) There is a RIGHT way to make a Resume: I often speak to frustrated students who tell me that that they have received contradictory resume advice from multiple reliable sources. This is very common. There is little, to no, consensus on the “right” way to create your resume. You will get different options from different experts. I don’t believe there is one “right” way to create a resume, but there certainly are wrong ways. Everyone agrees your resume has to look nice and be error-free. Beyond that, it really depends who you ask.
2) Stick to the page limit: I have heard a lot of different permutations of this one, like college resumes need to be one page, or that you can add an extra page to your resume for every ten years of work experience. I don’t believe there is a magic formula, but I do believe that you should always use full pages with strong content. Do not go onto a second (or subsequent) page unless you have real accomplishments with which to fill it.
3) Put an “Objective” on your resume: Can we finally put this myth to rest? I personally believe objectives are remnants of the old days when people would send resumes via snail mail in order to specify to which job they were applying. Today, most of the process is automated. Resumes are sorted by job opening, so there is no need to express the specific position (and don’t get me started on the fluffy, meaningless statements people choose to include). Career Fair resumes may be an exception to this rule, because recruiters may be recruiting for numerous positions and it can be easy for a resume to be placed into the wrong pile.
4) Put your references on your resume: I see this all the time. References build your credibility, so I understand why people want to include their references on their resume, but it is simply not the place for it. Space on your resume is at a premium. Don’t waste it with your references. The employers will ask you to provide your references when they are ready.
5) Create a PDF Version of your resume: Occasionally, different versions of word processors change the formatting on your resume. To avoid that, the argument goes, create a PDF version of your resume so that it looks the same whenever it is opened.
The problem is that most major companies use applicant tracing systems (ATS) that utilize scanning technology. Many of these systems do not read PDF’s well. That means that the system may misread a PDF resume, and it may never get to the human review level, even if you used all the correct keywords.