The “rules” that apply to resume writing are often strict and there is fear that if you don’t follow them, you will be rejected. Just as old habits die hard, it is hard to shake the fear of changing your resume. However, technology has changed communication styles, verification capabilities, application processes and ultimately, it has changed what is the “norm” in resumes. Below are five resume “rules” that have seen their last days.
Rule to Forget #1: A resume must only be one page long.
We have been conditioned to believe that the old-school tradition of a one-page resume is the only acceptable way to apply to a job. However, most applications are done electronically now and resumes are submitted online. While there is nothing wrong with a one page resume for a new graduate or someone with little experience, the experiences professional with years of experience is doing themselves a disservice by trying to fit their entire career on one page. If your work history warrants more space, give it more space. But be sure you are only including relevant experience; you don’t need to include your high school pizza delivery job on your resume. If you have only 12 lines on the second page, you may want to play with your formatting options and stick to one page. However, if you decide to fill that space, do so strategically. List your community service and volunteer experiences; list your certifications, trainings and awards; list organizations and clubs that you belong to. This shows your future employer that you are well rounded.
Rule to Forget #2: A few credits short of graduation? Just list that degree anyway.
It is very tempting to make yourself into the perfect candidate on your resume. What’s a white lie going to hurt, right? Wrong. Technology has made it quite easy to complete a quick and detailed background check, not to mention the power of typing a candidate’s name into Google. Employers are interested in your experience, not necessarily the degree you have. So if you did not receive the degree, do not list it. If your skills are in demand and you are well qualified, you will be able to overcome these sorts of obstacles but you must be up front and tell the truth first. You can also list the college(s) you attended with the courses you took, just do not say you received a degree.
Rule to Forget #3: You must list references.
Unless the application specifically asks you to list references, you do not need to list them. And if you do need to share references, it would be best to provide them on a second document. More often than not, when an employer is ready to or wants to contact your references, they will let you know.
Rule to Forget #4: Create one perfect resume and post it everywhere.
The most powerful resume is one that highlights your relevant experience. The relevant experience required is going to be different for each and every job you apply for. One single resume cannot meet the credentials needed for all employers. Take time to tailor your resume to each employer’s goals to strengthen your chances. Review the job posting, the company’s website and the mission statement. What is needed, valued and in demand? Work to highlight your experiences and skills that meet their needs.
Rule to Forget #5: Every single one of your responsibilities must be listed under each job.
Employers care more about how you made each job your own than every single duty and responsibility of the job. You and your resume will stand out if you can highlight your accomplishments within each job. Listing every task you did, as a manager doesn’t make you a good manager. But if you can detail a specific accomplishment that proves you are, there is no need to state the obvious. This rule correlates to the length of a resume as well as the idea of customizing a resume for each employer. You cannot have a one or two page resume if you list every single responsibility you ever had and your resume will not get you an interview if it appears irrelevant to the job description. The decision makers in a company want to know what you can do for their company specifically and your resume should be able to paint a nice picture of transferable skills for them.