10 Resume Misconceptions Job Seekers Encounter Throughout Their Careers

Over the years I have had clients approach me with misconceptions about résumé writing, cover letters and other written information they have submitted for their next career move. As the world of work constantly changes with technology, there are still some areas of writing résumé, posting and etiquette that still hold true and probably will indefinitely.

I was told that my résumé can only be one page

Remember that the résumé is your “Ad” to the employer. Think… when you read a newspaper or online ads are they long or short ads. “You want to catch ’em quick!” I am not saying or agreeing that all résumés need to be one page, but your summary should be compelling enough to entice the reviewer to contact you and to invite you for a phone screen or interview.

If you are networking at a job fair, a one page résumé is good enough. Once you speak to the representatives at the job fair, you leave the impression in hopes for the next step. You can prepare an in-depth résumé for the hiring manager or next level invitation 2-page résumé with highlighted skills, titles, and keywords.

However, there are certain types of résumés that are will be four to five pages long due to the content they contain by request of the employer. One type that come to mind is the federal government résumé. They have an online format to complete a résumé, but also allow you to upload a résumé. For more information on what is required, please go to USAJOBS.

Having bad credit will bar me from most good jobs

Careful here… I have heard this to be true for many jobs but NOT always. Yet still… you should still be aware of you stand with your credit. Now while you are looking for a job, your credit rating is probably the last thing on your mind while looking for a new job. Maybe you’re taking a second or a third look at your résumé and cover letter, or you are working with career coaches, friends or family review it. As of this writing, we are pretty much through with the financial crisis but it has become practice that companies will consider it a standard operating procedure for many companies to do a credit check, along with checking out your work and education references, or even doing a drug test or checking to see if you have a criminal history. This is especially common with large Fortune 500 companies, financial companies (banks, security companies, federal government (US), etc.)

I repeat, I recommend that you keep an eye on your credit to see where you stand. A rule of thumb is to keep your score at 720 and above to be considered to have good credit. Credit Karma is a site that allows you to review you pull your report and score at any time. Use this site not only while you are job seeking, but to keep wraps on your status with creditors and potential identity theft issues. Review this article at CreditCards.com for more information.

Recruiters or the hiring managers will call me; I don’t need to follow-up

Really… following up is the part of the process to applying for a job. Employers usually list an opening and closing date for jobs. It is appropriate to follow-up one to two weeks after the closing date of the job announcement. If the job announcement states “NO CALLS ACCEPTED” or “NO FAXES ACCEPTED” then follow instructions, they will contact you if you meet the qualifications they state they are looking for.

I have to list my salary requirements on my résumé

No, you do not need to list the salary requirements on the résumé but if asked, please be honest. I coach my clients to provide a range when asked by the employer. Or, if my clients have already researched the position of choice and I will guide them to address it in a short narrative format that provides leverage when negotiating salary at the interviewing table.

I’ll add ‘References available upon request,’ hobbies, my age, and marital status to my résumé

No. It is understood that you have references. When asked to provide them, determine how many are necessary, and choose which references will best represent you for this particular position. Contact your references so they will expect a call or email from this company, and discuss the job with them so that they can represent you in the best possible light. Please, please, please do not add your age, hobbies and marital status to your résumé. This is not needed and can be considered as discrimination.

Cover letters are a waste of time and recruiters or hiring managers do not read them.

This is not entirely true. Cover Letters are used as an introduction and should accompany your résumé, whether e-mailed, posted on a job site, mailed, or hand delivered to an employer. Do not think that recruiters or hiring managers do not read them, because THEY DO! When writing your cover letter make it a powerful introduction that makes them want more. A strong fact and figure to support your credentials in the cover letter can support your case to getting an interview which is one step closer to getting that job. There are a couple of exceptions where cover letters may not be needed or necessary. They are at job fairs or when you are introduced to someone in person. But all in all make sure all of your career documents stand out and show out.

I can just post my résumé to a major job board and wait for the interviews to come to me

BE CAUTIOUS with this! I have never heard of jobs just coming to a candidate unless you have a rare skill or trade that hard to find in the WORLD. Just because you post to a job board does not mean you do not have to do the due diligence of following up with the employer to see where you stand. Continue to abide by the instructions that are posted on the job board and the announcement posted but FOLLOW UP.

I applied for the perfect position that was written just for me-the phone should be “ringing off the hook”

You would not believe how many times I have heard this one or have experienced this myself. But as just the same, there are others that are saying the same thing. Not long ago, there was a Program Manager position that client knew it was perfectly written for him. He tailored the résumé for the position, submitted the appropriate documentation expected a call and did not hear a word. Why? Many recruiters are probably receiving a mass amount of résumés and they do not have the time to call everyone back. This is true for small and large companies. In small companies many recruiters are serving in roles as HR professionals and administrative roles and do not have time to call. And for large companies, it could be sheer volume of résumés coming in that your phone may not be “ringing off the hook”.

I always use a picture with my résumé

No, break the habit please. I have seen and heard recruiters and hiring managers discard résumés due to this. In many countries it is illegal to discriminate in hiring based on the race or gender of an applicant, so many employers would actually rather you didn’t include your picture as it can lead to allegations of impropriety. The only example of this is if you are applying for a performing arts position (dancer, actor, model, etc.) then it will be appropriate to include a picture.

I want my ‘formatted résumé’ to be seen by employers on the Internet… so I’ll place it in their text blocks, anyway.

You should follow the rules that they have set for their online application program. No it is not necessarily a trick or scheme from the employer. I have seen where applicants neglected their direction and not gotten a phone interview or invited to the interview because the company could not read or understand the information submitted to them. Applying for a job takes work so take the time to complete the boxes and fill in the information they require. Many times they will have a place for you to upload your ‘formatted résumé’ into their system.

Example of Resume Cover Letter Tactics That Pull a Scary Number of Offers

How many jobs are you applying to? More than you can count, right? So you’re relying on heavily on your resume and cover letter. They’re your spokespeople when you can’t be in front of the recruiter. So, why give the recruiter something to talk and wonder about, something she hasn’t sen before. We’re talking about more than just an example of a resume cover letter.

Here a just a few devices of the 28 devices you can use to make your cover letter riveting.

1. Look at most effective direct mail campaigns and you’ll find one thing they have in common – the format of the argument they use. It’s usually Problem-Aggravation-Solution. They cite a problem, they tell you how it’s worse than you think, and they tell you how they can solve it. Think of ring around the collar. You try rubbing it out. You try soaking it out. And still, you have ring around the collar. Its one of the most successful marketing campaigns ever.

If you know the industry well enough to know why the company or manager you’re applying to would be feeling pain, use that as your introduction. Don’t start by saying you want badly to work for the company (as most examples of a resume cover letter do). Make it all about him. open with a problem he is having. “There’s so much bad debt in the economy, isn’t there?” Then make the problem worse. “That not only threatens income from current instruments, it’s got to make it tougher to make additional loans”. Finally, show how you can help. “When I was with Binker Bank, I was able to restructure our collectibles so that…”

2. Simply give reasons why. You’d be surprised how often people fail to say why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s important for two reasons. First, it’s the white elephant in the room. You’re on the job market. There’s a reason. If you’re not forthcoming, they’re going to ask anyway. You may as well grab the initiative

Also, it’s an easy influence device. In studies, people are much more likely to do what you ask if you give them a reason (any reason as it turns out). They’ll let you cut in line if you just say you need to. So put this to use. I’m switching jobs because – I didn’t find the last one satisfying, I didn’t think it was a good fit, I thought i could offer more in another environment. Then be prepared for the discussion your explanation engenders. Never pass up a persuasive device this easy to add to an example of a resume cover letter.

With the fierce competition in this job market, having 67 applications on the street does you no good at all if each of them is mediocre. There are so many candidates, just one or two of them will create great packets and beat you every time.

That leads to three axioms:

1. You can make yourself the obvious choice for the job and attract many offers, but to do it, you must be the candidate who maximizes every portion of your job packet to attract the recruiter’s attention, so

2. You must have a system that enables you to modify an example of resume cover letter so that its optimized to bring you calls, and

3. Your system needs to be automated so it creates cover letters very rapidly and very easily so you actually do it every time (and don’t simply intend to do it).

Top Ten Tips For Writing a Great Resume and Cover Letter

On the outside, writing a resume and a cover letter seems like a very easy task. You’re writing about the one thing that you understand most, yourself. However, very few of us are comfortable writing and updating our resumes and we’re never quite happy with the outcome. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Below are ten tips for consideration when preparing and submitting your resume/cover letter.

1. Collect Your Skills In One Place – I strongly encourage you to maintain a long-format resume. On this separate document you should collect each and every skill and experience you’ve had. Each time you are involved in a new project or task, make sure you add it to this document. This allows you to have these at the ready when you’re preparing a resume to submit for a specific job listing. This way you won’t forget a key skill or experience when you need it. I’ve found these long-form resumes to be valuable when discussing opportunities with an executive recruiter. As a result, I will occasionally send one to a recruiter, but normally, I wouldn’t distribute this version. It’s primary purpose is to serve as a reminder of some of your less common projects and experiences.

2. Identify the Key Words – It is critically important that you go through the job description and pay particular attention to the required skills and experiences. Not only are you interested in matching those up to your skills and experiences, but you want to make sure you use the same language. This makes it very easy for the hiring manager to drill through your resume and decide that you are a fit. Make it easy for the hiring manager and you’ll reap benefits.

3. One Resume Per Job Listing – If you use a generic resume when you apply for a position, you’re likely to miss a required skill or experience. It is also likely that you won’t highlight the skills or experiences that matter most to the hiring manager. You may get looked over as the result.

4. Find A Unique Format – In particular industries, hiring managers get a lot of resumes that all look the same. After a while, the hiring manager might begin to miss things. Review various examples/samples and find one that you like. It should fit your personality. The hiring manager is hiring someone that he/she will likely work with. Don’t be afraid to show some of yourself in your resume and cover letter. You want to stand out just enough to be recognized and remembered.

5. Do Other Things To Liven Up Your Look – Being slightly different while still showing professionalism can be the difference in getting noticed. Remember that the hiring manager may have hundreds of resumes to dig through (in some instances HR does this screening). Having a fresh look can be the difference for you. Just don’t go overboard. For example, there aren’t too many instances where you would use a red font. Nor would you use a font style and size that is too drastic. It must fit your field and industry.

6. Be Brief – Hiring Mangers are very busy. Use the space in the resume wisely. Focus on what they are asking for, and don’t spend too much space on skills and experiences they aren’t requesting. Don’t fall into the trap of reducing the font to fit more content in. The job description was only a few paragraphs long. Your resume shouldn’t be much longer.

7. Attention To Detail – Content – Spelling and grammar count. Never forget that. Have someone proof your resume. If at all possible, have a second and third review done. Screeners and hiring managers are looking for reasons to exclude a resume from the interview list. Don’t give them a reason to exclude you.

8. Attention To Detail – Form – In this day and age, resumes are more often than not distributed electronically. In those times when a resume should be on paper (i.e., at the interview), you should ensure it is printed on high quality paper. You want the final product to speak for you. That includes the look and feel of the product. A solid resume on good paper sets a great tone for the business at hand, landing a job offer.

9. The Cover Letter As A Sales Pitch – You might not be a marketer or salesman, but the cover letter is your sales pitch. In a short space of a few paragraphs, you want to tell the hiring manager exactly why you’re the best candidate for them. This includes what you have (key skills and experiences) and how they will benefit from hiring you. Before the hiring manager gets to the resume, he/she should already know you’re a fit.

10. Close The Deal – Your cover letter should also be very clear on what you want them to do next. You want an interview and you want them to call you to schedule one soon. Be direct and ask. Don’t leave anything to chance. Just ask.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Good luck on your job search.