Did You Fall for These Resume Myths?

No matter how much advice is published on the subject, some myths still circulate about the best way to write your resume. Fortunately, a lot has changed in resume writing and job search – and you can benefit from these new trends.

For example, you might have been told to keep your resume to a specified length or to always exclude certain types of information. Given how much has changed in the job market, many of these “rules” have fallen by the wayside.

Take a look at the longstanding myths and misconceptions about resume writing, then see which of these apply to your own resume:

1 – The Single-Page Resume Myth.

This legend never seems to die. Back when resumes were handled in hard-copy form, employers and recruiters admonished job seekers to keep their documents to a single page. Perhaps this made collecting all those pieces of paper easier, or maybe it was simpler to avoid typos when creating a one-pager.

No matter the reason, the one-page resume can now officially retire, particularly if you have more than 15 years of experience. Why? Not only will an employer’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) process a large amount of data from most resumes, but companies are also accustomed to resumes that exceed one page (particularly for executives).

You’ll also save the interviewer’s eyes by bumping the font to at least 10 points, rather than shrinking the text to fit into a too-tight, single-page document.

2 – The Job Description Resume Myth.

If you’ve ever read a job description, you know that “supports user communities and department stakeholders” is a dull and generic way to convey your duties. Yet, too many job seekers, from entry to executive-level candidates, rely on these canned, lengthy descriptions to show the breadth of their work.

It’s time to stop this myth in its tracks with a reminder that employers don’t hire your past job descriptions, they hire your capabilities, skills, and work style – hoping to find a candidate who will dive into new challenges and solve their business problems. As shown in this CEO resume, a list of core competencies (listed under Areas of Expertise) can convey relevant skills, while the Executive Performance Benchmarks adds attention-getting specifics of career achievements.

It’s your achievements, competencies, and career wins that need to take center stage on your resume, rather than stock phrases that could apply to anyone. Take the time to qualify your accomplishments with metrics (please!) that show exactly how much your work impacted the bottom line, rescued a critical project, or saved costs.

3 – The Resume Formatting Myth.

Nothing is harder to skim in the digital age than black-and-white, lackluster documents that do little to distinguish each candidate. Even worse, too many candidates use a stock resume template, making their resume format look like a last-minute decision.

Your best bet, however, is to take some time and care with the presentation of your resume, just as you would with any business document. While a tremendous amount of color is not a necessity, a touch of flair and emphasis on key words (shown in these resume examples for a CFO and Program Manager) can help set off important data.

If you want to push the envelope a bit further, consider giving your resume a powerful dose of graphics that showcase achievements. By honing in on the most valuable parts of your experience, your resume can “direct” employers to take note of these career wins.

4 – The “I Can’t Put THAT on My Resume” Myth.

The truth is, anything goes – as long as it qualifies you and gets the type of attention you deserve in your job search.

In years past, job seekers often left out the context of their achievements from the resume, fearing that the document would become too long. Now, you’ll benefit more from explaining just how you motivated the sales team or negotiated a new vendor discount, since these examples will reinforce your personal brand message.

To get in the right frame of mind for writing about your background, think in terms of the C-A-R (Challenge-Action-Result) format. By describing the situation you inherited (the Challenge), the steps you took to improve or resolve a problem (your Actions), and the outcome that benefited the company (the Result), you’ll present a stronger picture of leadership competency and agility.

Consider also that feedback from others, particularly notable leaders in your field, will underscore your message. By pulling in a quote or accolade, you’re giving employers a quick view of the reasons your contributions are valuable in a new role.

You can even explain a reason for leaving a past job (long considered taboo on a resume) by noting “Completed XYZ Project prior to company spin-off as a new division.

The bottom line: take a look at current resume trends and pay attention to resume writing ideas that fit your unique situation, rather than adhering to resume myths that could hold you back in your search.

Executive Resume Writer

Need a competitive edge in your job search? As an award-winning executive resume writer, I create branded, powerful resumes and LinkedIn Profiles that position you as the #1 candidate.

My clients win interviews and top C-suite, EVP, VP, and Director positions at Fortune 500 firms, niche companies, start-ups, and emerging industry leaders, using powerhouse documents and executive job search techniques tailored to today’s job market.

Get in touch with me to experience the outstanding results I can bring to your transition.

– Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC, CTTCC

 

3 Phrases That Kill The Effectiveness of Your Executive Resume

Want to distinguish your leadership brand among competing candidates?

Then ditch the boring language you’ve seen on other executive resumes.

Just because other resumes (professionally created or self-written) employ a blend of monotonous, overused words doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.

Shake things up and inject some power into your personal brand message by refusing to add these mundane descriptors to your executive resume: Continue reading “3 Phrases That Kill The Effectiveness of Your Executive Resume”

How to Write a CIO Resume for Interview-Winning Results

How to write a CIO resume

Aiming for a C-level or Director role leading an enterprise IT organization?

You’ve probably wondered how to transform your resume from a list of technical skills in order to reach the corner office.

How can you craft a brand message strong enough to get attention for a CIO, IT Director, or CTO role?

Working with CIO.com on an IT Director resume makeover, I spent time with Richard Hein, Managing Director, answering this very question. Surprisingly, it’s often business acumen (more so than tech skills) that attracts hiring authorities… and with CIO.com’s candidate, business alignment was clearly the focus of his career.

To obtain these results, I recommend taking a step back from the typical list of projects, protocols, and programs usually featured on an IT resume, using a fresh eye to show how your achievements met business needs.

These 4 powerful tips for how to write a CIO resume (or IT Director resume) will help you shape a brand-driven, compelling document that elicits action from employers: Continue reading “How to Write a CIO Resume for Interview-Winning Results”

3 Executive Resume Mistakes You’re Making Right Now

Executive resume mistakes

Trying to catch a break in the competitive market for executive talent? Your resume MUST be on par with the branded, value-driven documents used by other leaders.

As an executive expecting to make your mark, you’ll need to avoid the typical (yet major-league) resume writing errors that can put you at a disadvantage.

Sharpen your approach and position yourself as a contender by checking your executive resume against these too-common resume writing mistakes: Continue reading “3 Executive Resume Mistakes You’re Making Right Now”

How to Write Your Resume When You’re NOT The Perfect Candidate

Man with gaps in work history or no college degree

If your career trajectory contains a few speed bumps (such as a gap in work history or job hopping), you’re among the multitudes in this job market.

Given the state of economic affairs over the past few years, most job seekers don’t fit the classic picture of a “stable” work history at a single employer the way they once did.

I recently sat down with Jacquelyn Smith of Forbes.com to discuss ways of dealing with a not-so-perfect career history for What To Do When Your Resume Looks Like Bad News, reiterating that problematic job situations can often be overcome with just a few key changes to your resume.

Here’s how to address common “sticky” situations (ones that seem to trip up even the most well-qualified job seekers):

Job Gaps

A period of unemployment is no longer an automatic red flag to many employers. Therefore, you’ll want to be as up front and concise as possible when dealing with a gap.

Continue reading “How to Write Your Resume When You’re NOT The Perfect Candidate”

Why I’ll Never Critique Your Resume

Frequently, I encounter job seekers who are trying to find out what, if anything, might be missing from their resume.

Of course, they also ask what I’d do to improve it.

These are valid questions, and in such a competitive market, it makes sense for candidates to request this type of feedback.

However, I won’t do it.

Why not? There’s simply no way, other than getting to know the twists and turns of your professional story, to figure out if your resume truly does its job for you.

No matter what I (or any other resume writer) thinks of your resume, it must contain a full, context-based story of your career and specific value-add… and it’s impossible to figure out what might be missing at a glance!

Yes, this is contrary to the “free critique” offered by so many job boards or career services.

Sure, we can debate keywords, presentation, content, borders, and formatting all day, but at the end of the discussion, all you’ll have is yet another opinion.

So what WILL happen when you ask me to look at your resume? I’ll have 3 questions for you:

  • What job are you targeting?
  • How well does the resume capture your competitive edge for this job?
  • Does it generate the results you want?

These 3 factors tell me more about the likely success of your resume than any opinion I could put forth. They also give me a clear picture of the type of professional assistance (if any) that you’ll need to achieve your goal.

The way your work affects the bottom line (your personal brand, as we say) must be conveyed clearly and strongly, and to the right audience, in order for employers to take notice.

And in the end, that’s all that matters when it comes to resume effectiveness.

Does Your Resume Show Your ROI?

Creating your resume, but stumped for ideas beyond your job titles, places of employment, tasks, and education?

Compelling employers to pick up the phone requires a much stronger brand message!

If you haven’t focused on your ROI – the benefit companies get when hiring you – your search can go on indefinitely.

You might believe that recruiters or HR managers will “get” this message from reading about your past jobs or span of authority – but guess what?

With plenty of resumes to review, most hiring authorities won’t take the time to connect the dots in your background.

Therefore, if you’ve made a significant difference at past employers, but your resume doesn’t provide this evidence, you’ll lose your shot at winning an interview (while employers hire your competition instead).

Consider adding quantifiable measures of your performance to reinforce your personal brand message on your resume, as shown in these tips.

1 – Comparisons to Others.

Do you wear many hats at your current job? Employees who can perform more than one job simultaneously are often credited with generating increases in the bottom line. Continue reading “Does Your Resume Show Your ROI?”