When it comes to your resume, don’t be fooled into thinking that there are set in stone rules that you must abide by. People will try to tell you otherwise – the hiring manager, the recruiter, the well intentioned friend – but there is no way you could follow all of these “rules” and have a resume that is anything less than a complete mess.
For every person that gives you advice on your resume there will be someone else with an opposite opinion. No two hiring managers are alike so to say that all hiring managers as a group expect one thing or another would be erroneous. Let’s take a look at a few of these so called rules.
There are two sides to the resume length argument, those who think anything more than one page in length destines your resume for the garbage and those that think anything less than two pages will earn it a swift trip to the garbage. It seems like the consensus on length fluctuates quite frequently. For awhile people will want two page resumes then the request for one page heats up again. However, when it comes to the length of your resume it doesn’t have to be one or the other. There is no one size fits all.
Clients are often asking me my opinion on resume length and I always tell them that either one or two pages are acceptable. If you want a one page resume you need to make sure you are able to capture everything without shortchanging yourself simply because you want to keep it to one page. On the other hand, if you are aiming for two pages make sure you are able to fill two complete pages with relevant information. Don’t put something on there just because it makes your resume longer.
As out of style as it is, there are still individuals who insist on using objective statements. For years this was a common resume ‘rule’ that was seen on almost every resume and for many it is a hard rule to break. Unfortunately, I am still seeing way too many resumes with objective statements on them.
What an objective statement does is let anyone reading your resume know what it is you hope to gain professionally. The problem with that is, no hiring manager wants to know what you want, they want to know what you can do for them. It is for that reason that objective statements are being replaced with summaries that capture your strengths in a way that shows potential employers the value you can bring to the position.
The rule that you should only go back 10 years in your professional history is a very common one. Typically including 10 years of your career experience is enough to give a hiring manager a good idea of what you can do. This doesn’t mean that everyone should include no more and no less than 10 years. Everyone is different and some careers will require a more comprehensive overview of your experience.
For those just starting out in their career you can only work with what you have which may be little to no experience. If this applies to you, try and capture your skills on your resume rather than specific jobs. On the other hand, there are those individuals who have been in the work force for 30 or more years. For them I typically recommend going back 10 – 15 years in their experience to avoid being judged as too old or having too much experience.
The important thing to remember when creating your resume is that just like no two people are alike no two resumes will be alike and what works for one person may not necessarily be what works for you. Consider the “rules” that are out there when creating your resume but ultimately you need to make your own rules when it comes to what will best represent the qualities you have to offer to a company.
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