No matter how much advice is published on the subject, some myths still persist about the “correct” way to write your resume.
You may have heard that your resume must use only black text, for example, or that it can’t exceed a specific length. Fortunately, a lot has changed in resume writing and job search, and 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:
Your Resume Must Fit Into a Single Page.
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 (unless you’re pursuing a Board role).
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.
If you’d still like to network with a single-page resume, consider writing a summary page (as shown in this CEO sample resume, where a quick snapshot of career history leads into more detail on subsequent pages.
Your Resume Must Focus Mainly on Tasks and Duties.
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 job descriptions and lists of tasks – they hire your UNIQUE capabilities! Companies want candidates who will dive into new challenges and solve their business problems.
This example of a CIO resume shows how you can refer to your job description, but with a twist, pointing out this executive’s charter while promoting continual increases in organizational performance, profile, and efficiency. Employers can quickly see the value this IT leader brings to the table.
As another example, this CEO resume shows a list of leadership competencies (in Career Highs: Results Surpassing Market Expectations) can convey relevant skills, while the Executive Performance Benchmarks adds attention-getting specifics of career achievements.
Your career WINS 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.
Your Resume Must be Designed in Black-and-White.
There are numerous myths floating around that claim ATS (resume screening systems) can only read black text, or that recruiters will reject you if they see color on your resume. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Most ATS systems CAN read colored text and there are formatting elements that will help your resume stand out. In fact, you can do yourself a disservice by trying to make your resume look like everyone else’s document.
Consider how just a touch of color, shading, and emphasis can help emphasize strengths in your background, as shown in this Nonprofit Executive resume.
While a tremendous amount of color is not a necessity, take some time with the presentation of your resume, just as you would with ANY business document.
If you want to push the envelope a bit further, consider giving your resume a powerful dose of graphics to 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.
I Can’t Put THAT on My Resume!
The truth is, anything goes – as long as it qualifies you and gets the type of attention you deserve in your job search.
In this CEO resume, look closely at the chart, which actually shows COMPETING company information in comparison to his achievements. You might not think to include metrics from other companies, but it works well here.
Do you have an unusual background that helps you in your current career? Show it!
Are there valid achievements from decades ago that frame what you accomplish today? Add them (although you may want to put them on the first-page achievements section with no dates).
Too often, job seekers leave out critical context that would otherwise help them stand out. Instead, you’ll benefit MORE from showing how you motivate sales teams, negotiate millions in vendor discounts, or understand technology due to a previous engineering career.
Tip: Use the C-A-R (Challenge-Action-Result) method to frame your wins. 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 pulling in a quote from leaders in your field or company to underscore your message – giving employers a view into your reputation for results.
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.
Originally published on Recruiter.com.