7 common resume myths busted

Writing a resume is something that almost everyone will go through during their lives, so it’s no wonder that there is so much confusion about how best to approach it. Our Consultants all too often hear statements such as “I heard that you should never…” or “I was told to always…”, but a lot of the time, these are simply myths that have no basis in fact.

Crafting the perfect resume is challenging enough without trying to work out fact from fiction, which is why so many job seekers fall into the trap of succumbing to these common myths. Unfortunately, a lot of these hold very little information for employers looking to hire the best fit for their company.

So, should your resume really only be one page? Is it ok to tell white lies if it helps you get the job? And formatting isn’t important, right? Our recruitment team have offered their advice to help bust the most common resume myths and help you find out what companies are looking for in a potential employee.

Myth #1: It doesn’t matter what my resume looks like

You’ve probably heard the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but when it comes to your resume, looks do actually matter. In fact, according to SEEK, 85% of those involved in the recruitment process agree that a well-presented resume is more likely to catch their attention.

While our Consultants do take the time to review all resumes, this may not be the case with all hiring managers, and if the right information isn’t included, your application may not stack up against the competition.

Think about your resume as your very first interaction with a potential employer: it’s the virtual equivalent of stepping inside the interview room for the first time. For this reason it is crucial to present yourself as professionally as possible on paper, just as you would in person.

Your resume doesn’t need to be over-designed or flashy. It should be easy to read with plenty of white space between sections and have a consistent font throughout. The document needs to be easy to follow in regards to career history, and key skills need to be easily to identify for the reader.

Myth #2: Resumes should always have your entire work history

If you have been working for many years, chances are a potential employer does not want to know that you worked on the counter at a supermarket 20 years ago. Nor are they likely interested in reading about multiple jobs you had that were in a completely different discipline to the role which you applying for now – our Consultants will always advise that relevance is key.

When including your employment history on your resume, it is important to include the jobs and prior experience that will depict you as an ideal candidate. So if you worked in a role 10 years ago that is similar to the one you are applying for now, or helped you develop skills that will be useful in this role, include it! It will show that you have already have skills in this area.

For example, if you are applying for a teaching role and worked as a private tutor for high school students eight years ago, it is wise to include this information. Conversely, if you are applying for the same teaching role, but instead worked in retail ten years ago, this experience would not necessarily add value to you as a candidate.

Myth #3: White lies are ok if they get you the job

Honesty is the best and only policy when it comes to writing a resume. No ifs ands or buts about it. Your resume is a factual history of your work experience and should not overstate your accomplishments or responsibilities.

Employers value integrity and honesty, and if they find out you have lied on your resume (and they will likely find out), you may as well say goodbye to that job opportunity, and possibly many others. A note will likely be made next to your name on the company or recruitment database, depending on where you applied, so it really isn’t worth it.

Hiring Managers and employers implement certain checks and balances, such as assessments and reference checks, to ensure job applicants are as experienced as they say they are. Get caught out lying, and it will not only be embarrassing, but will also look incredibly unprofessional and could tarnish your reputation.

Myth #4: Don’t sweat the small stuff

Actually, you really should. When it comes to writing a resume that will give you the best chance of scoring a job, focusing on things like grammar and correct spelling are absolutely essential. Not only does it show that you are a competent writer, it also demonstrates that you have attention to detail, are professional and fastidious in your work – all of which are desirable qualities in a candidate.

The last thing you want to do is appear careless or nonchalant, so make sure you cross those T’s and dot your I’s.

Myth #5: It should only be one page

This is a tricky one to answer, but the main thing to focus on is that if you do have valuable experience that you are leaving off your resume simply to make it fit on one page, you won’t be doing yourself any favours.

SEEK reports that the 79% of employers do prefer shorter, more succinct resumes, but at the same time they want to have enough information about you to be able to gauge whether or not you have the necessary skills and relevant industry experience to help you perform the role to their expected standard.

The answer then according to our Consultants, will vary upon your own experience in relation to the job for which you are applying. Include the skills and experience that are relevant, but keep this information short and sweet. The one-page resume concept tends to be more popular in countries such as the UK, rather than Australia.

Myth #6: You must list your references

This is a very common myth that our specialist Consultants see job seekers making time and time again. Though it may make sense to think of references as another piece of helpful information to provide employers, it actually best to leave them off your resume.

Remember, your resume’s job is to get you the initial interview. From there, you may actually have a second or third interview, and even an assessment that you need to perform before your refereesare called. For that reason, save space on your resume for the information that will help you get the initial interview.

Myth #7: Keep your resume general to increase your chances

Highly customised and targeted resumes are going to be much more effective in helping you secure interviews that can lead to job offers. Instead of sending a general resume that could be applicable to any role, job seekers should take the time to do extensive research to understand the required skills, expertise, experience and qualifications for the specific job they are applying for. This information can used as a guideline for tailoring their resume and really highlighting the skills and experience that will stand out to employers.

Click here for a range of job application tools, including free resume templates.