1. Your Entry-Level Resume Should Be More Than One Page
MYTH or FACT?
Myth. As an entry-level candidate, your resume should never exceed the two-page limit. According to research and insights from recruiting firms gathered by Employment BOOST, a top-rated career services firm, having a two-page resume actually hurts your chances and doesn’t help you come off as a highly qualified candidate. On average, a recruiter will sort through hundreds of resumes when attempting to find a suitable candidate to fulfill an open position. By maintaining a professional resume that only highlights relevant experience, you’re able to keep the reader engaged and give a clear idea of your relevant experience.
When creating your entry-level resume, it is important to only highlight the important professional accomplishments and experience you have acquired over the course of your career. A rule of thumb for the length of your resume should be one page for about 5-10 years of experience and that no more than 20 years of work reflected on the resume. Also, try not to include more than 3-4 bullet points for each job description. You don’t want to bore the hiring manager with too much content!
2. There Is No Need for a Professional Summary
MYTH or FACT?
Myth. You may remember a time when stating your resume objective in two to three sentences known as an objective statement was the way to start a resume. Objective statements are now a thing of the past. The outdated objective statement has now been replaced by the modern day professional summary.
A professional summary is a short paragraph consisting of at least three to four sentences located at the beginning of a resume that serves as a summary of a job candidate’s professional background and experiences. The primary function of a professional summary is to give the readers of a resume a quick summarization of the candidate’s professional background and expertise before the reader moves deeper into the resume. Hiring managers typically only spend about 6-7 seconds to look over a resume before moving on to the next candidate. By creating a strong professional summary, you are able to highlight major key points about your experience and provide a brief overview of your most compelling characteristics.
Similar to a LinkedIn headline on your profile, summarize your abilities into a three to four sentence paragraph, explaining what you bring to the table. Highlight skills and keywords that are relevant to the job posting to give the hiring manager a glimpse into your professional career.
3. You Should Avoid Using a Creative Resume
MYTH or FACT?
Fact. In order to stand out amongst competitors, some individuals often find it attractive to design a resume that focuses more effort on aesthetic value rather than the actual content. This often comes in the form of graphics, colors, images, and creative fonts. In all actuality, this can critically damage your chances at landing an interview.
Creative resumes with graphics, fancy fonts, color, or images have the ability to initiate bias. This is the last thing you want when it comes to your resume. You never know, by including color on your resume, you could potentially be using a color that is disliked by the hiring manager! Aside from personal preference, adding a creative flair to your resume takes away from the valuable space you can use to further detail your professional career and accomplishments. Also, graphics and images tend to interfere with applicant tracking systems (ATS), which ultimately determine whether your resume is good enough or not to be passed onto the hiring manager for further review.
In hindsight, for positions that actually require some creative skills, it may be in your best interest to provide links to your portfolio or personal websites. By doing so, it ensures that your resume focuses on your professional background while allowing your resume to pass ATS to be seen by the hiring manager. If hiring managers are impressed by your work history on the resume, this gives them the green light and incentive to look into all of your previous work for consideration.
4. You Should Use a Generalized Resume
MYTH or FACT?
Myth. One of the most common mistakes made by job seekers is creating a “generalized” resume to submit to all types of positions. Resumes should be strategically optimized based on the particular role you are applying for or your particular career interests. Targeted, optimized resumes have a much greater chance of landing an interview than a general one. Although having a resume that is “one size fits all” makes the process of applying to jobs a lot easier, chances are that using a cookie-cutter approach to submit resumes is not only obvious to the hiring manager but can be perceived as lazy or unprofessional.
Everyone’s background is different. During your job search, you want to give yourself the best chances to shine and show that you are the best candidate for the role. Be sure to alter each resume to contain the appropriate keywords and adjust your resume to reflect the description or the requirements necessary for the role.
5. You Should Choose a Chronological Format over Functional
MYTH or FACT?
Fact. For the most part, your resume should be in a chronological format reflecting the trajectory of your career. The chronological resume format is the easiest for hiring managers to scan, as it lays your work history starting with the most recent or current position at the top and working its way backwards. Chronological formats also work great for workers with little to no employment gaps, strong work experience, and have gradually worked their way up to higher level roles.
Now, although the typical hiring manager usually prefers a chronological resume format, in cases where the candidate is looking to facilitate a drastic career shift, consolidate similar experiences across multiple positions, or hide employment gaps and a pattern of job hopping, it would be best to consider a functional format for the resume to take away the attention on time frames and focus more on the candidate’s skills and strengths.
6. You Can Skip the Cover Letter If It’s Not Required
MYTH or FACT?
Myth. For many online applications, companies often don’t require applicants to submit a cover letter. However, this should not discourage you from sending one anyways (unless you are explicitly told not to). Creating and submitting a resume cover letter on an online application not only gives you a chance to show a bit of your personality and answer questions such as why you are interested in the position or why you are a good fit, but it also separates you from the rest of the competition who probably did not submit a cover letter for the role.
Take the extra time on the application to create a resume cover letter and tailor it so that it shows your personality and interests. Highlight what skills you are able to bring to the table and how hiring you can be beneficial to the organization. Attach your cover letter to any additional file uploads or combine and submit them with your resume. If the job posting provides an email to the hiring manager, be sure that you send your cover letter with a note stating how you’ve uploaded your resume through their application system. Taking these steps in your job search will surely attract the attention of hiring managers as it shows initiative and a genuine interest in the role.