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Resume Myth: Resumes Should Be One Page

During my last class a student asked whether the resume should only be one page long. This is one of the most common resume myths perpetuated by job seekers. I want to tell you this is not true. Back in the days before the common use of computers, this was the case. But nowadays, resumes are scanned into big computer systems and searched for keywords.

There is no hard and fast rule about resume length. In my professional career I have yet to see any job candidates with a one page resume. The normal length of a resume is two to three pages. I personally believe this is the ideal length for most job seekers. I have seen resumes that go beyond three pages too. Anything more than five pages is overkill unless you are seeking an academic job or a senior executive level position.

If you try to squeeze everything in one page, you might leave behind important information that will prevent the employer from accurately evaluating your qualifications and experiences. Your resume should be as long as necessary to convey what you need to impress the people reading it. Remember, the purpose of a resume is to convince someone to give you an interview. Regardless of how long your resume is, be sure to put the most important and eye-catching information on the first page. Most resumes are given a quick glance before it gets discarded or move along in the process.

A one-page resume is only appropriate for a recent college grad or someone who is just starting out on their career. Once you have a few years of experience, you should not feel you need to stick to one page.

Your resume is your personal marketing tool. It is up to you to decide whether you can market yourself convincingly with one or more pages.

5 Resume Killers

As a hiring manager, I have reviewed hundreds of resumes. It only takes me a few seconds to decide if a resume should be toss in the trash or if I should continue reading it. If you want your resume to not end up in the trash, here are 5 things you need to watch out when writing your resume.

1. Typos and grammatical errors

If there are any big typos and grammatical errors, I will deduce that you are sloppy and probably don’t care about your work or profession. This is my biggest pet peeve when reading resumes. It is amazing to me how many mistakes I see on resumes. My advise would be to carefully review your resume multiple times and let someone else proofread it too.

2. Not tailoring your resume to the job

Another common mistake that I see is the job seeker not taking the time to tailor the resume to the job. As a hiring manager, I am very busy and can only spend a few seconds reading each resume. What I am trying to determine is if this candidate is worth bringing in for an interview. If the resume does not spell out the specific skills/experiences/abilities that I am looking for, I will move on to someone else. So it is very important to modify each resume to the job. This should be done if you have a job description.

3. Not including a summary section

A summary section at the top of your resume quickly tells the employer why they should continue to read your resume. It should list your experiences, skills and qualifications. Every statement made in your summary section should be backed up with proof somewhere in your resume. If you don’t include a summary section, then it will be harder for me to determine if you are qualify for the job. This is your elevator pitch to me so it needs to be compelling and concise.

4. Visually unappealing

If the resume is not visually appealing, this makes me think the candidate will not be good with creating spreadsheets and other documents. The resume should be easy on the eyes and have professional formatting. I have seen resumes that are badly laid out, disorganized or full of formatting mistakes. What this does is makes the resume less appealing and harder for me to read. It also sends a bad vibe that this candidate is less than stellar in his/her writing skills. I am looking for a resume that is attractive and easy to read.

5. Too much information

Your resume should quickly tell me why I should consider you for an interview. Your resume should not describe your entire career from when you were flipping burgers at McDonald’s. I want to know whether you can do the job that you are applying for. You should only mention experiences, skills and accomplishments that are relevant to the job. Be very selective in what you put in your resume. You need to get into the mind of the hiring manager. He/she is trying to find resumes that scream hire me.
Think of your resume as a 30-second commercial. In 30 seconds or less it should describe why you are the perfect candidate for the job.

The Importance of Tailoring Your Resume for Each Job

A big mistake that I see many job seekers make is not tailoring their resume to the job that they are applying for. They try to bombard their resume to multiple jobs even though each job can be quite different. The way you stand our from the crowd is to have a resume that is customized for each job.

In today’s computer age, resumes are usually scanned into a resume tracking system and the keywords from your resume are captured. These keywords from your resume will be matched against the buzzwords and job descriptions of the open position. If there are multiple matches, your resume moves to the top of the pack. When you neglect to include the keywords for your industry and position, your resume will be invisible to these resume databases.

Even if you resume is manually scanned by a person, he/she is trying to make a quick determination whether your resume has the skills and experience that they are looking for. You don’t want this person to work too hard to determine if your resume fits the job description. The more your resume matches the job description, the more likely they will consider you for an interview.

Updating your resume for each job does not mean you have to make major modifications. It just means you need to make some small adjustments so that it is customized for the job. This will usually take about an hour or less to do. If you have a multi-page resume, spend the most time on the first page. You want to grab the attention of the person reviewing your resume as quickly as possible.

As you read the job description, you will realized that there are things you have done in your previous jobs that are pertinent to the one you are currently applying for. So you need to highlight that on your resume. For example, if the job description mentions a software program that you have used before, be sure to include that in your resume. Try to identify the key phrases from the job description and find a way to incorporate those in your resume.

The goal is to tweak your resume so it contains keywords that correspond with the description in the job posting. The more keywords that you have on your resume the more likely it will be flagged by the computer system for further consideration.

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