Top Five Resume Myths Exposed
Nimish Thakkar, MS, MBA,
screening job applications to conducting interviews, hiring practices
have undergone a dramatic transformation over the past decade. Despite
all the changes, common resume myths continue to plague job search
practices at all levels. The article attempts to debunk some of these
It's all about the number of pages
The one-page rule is probably the most common myth about a resume.
Candidates, even senior executives, use microscopic fonts, leave off
important information, use 0.1 inch margins, and resort to a myriad of
unhealthy practices -- all in an attempt to restrict their resume to
just one page.
Many well-meaning college counselors advise their students to be
concise and limit their resume to one page. That was important when
you were a student with little or no experience, but why subscribe to
the same wisdom after rising to the ranks of a senior executive.
There is an opposing viewpoint. Some job seekers mistakenly believe
that if they can somehow balloon their resumes to four or five pages,
they will probably be considered for higher-paying positions. What?
Will someone offer me $250,000 simply because my resume is ten pages
and redundant to the point of boredom?
Content rules. The quality of experience should influence the length
of the resume, not hearsay. If you have held only one job, then don’t
try to create a five-page resume, but if your background merits a
lengthier resume then don’t use eight point fonts in a desperate
attempt to fit everything on one page.
If you are too concerned about the length of your resume, consider
creating a one- or two-page resume with additional pages serving as an
appendix or addendum. I have done that for many researchers and
academicians. The first few pages focused on their background, while
their publications and presentations were presented as an appendix.
Myth 2: Make up that degree -- no one
Lying on a resume is the worst mistake a candidate can make. Even if
you pass the background check (very unlikely considering how
sophisticated background checks have become), a savvy employer will
discover the deception within days, if not sooner.
Apart from the legal ramifications, we live in a professional world
that is influenced by social media. At the touch of a button, HR
managers across the country can discuss their experiences. Maintaining
a good reputation is more important than ever.
Myth 3: Your resume must have
“Seeking a position that will be beneficial and mutually rewarding …
and will make use of my experience and education ....” If that is your
idea of an objective, don’t bother using one. Every inch of resume
space is precious. Don’t waste it on generic information that can be
found on almost every other resume. Every word, every character that
appears on your resume must position you as the perfect candidate for
Of the 5,000+ resumes I have written, I may have used an objective for
maybe a handful of candidates. In place of objectives, I often used
what many experts call “branding statements” or “headers”. The concept
can be explained with the help of an example.
In the case of a clinical researcher, for example, a generic objective
would be as follows:
“Seeking a mutually beneficial position that will make use of my 10+
years’ experience in clinical research.”
An improvement would be:
Harvard-Educated Clinical Researcher with 10+ Years’ Professional
Worked with top five pharmaceutical companies. Leveraged clinical
expertise to manage three blockbuster, multi-billion dollar molecules
from Phase I to Market.
The generic example does almost nothing to position the candidate but
the refined version, in addition to serving as an objective, brings
out three to four prominent strengths and an overall value
Whether you decide to use an objective or a positioning statement,
refrain from presenting generic arguments.
Myth 4: Your references must be listed
on the resume itself
Normally, a separate page is used as a reference sheet. This not only
protects the privacy of your references (imagine posting their contact
information on every job board), but also makes the screening
professional’s job a little easier.
Myth 5: I can use the same resume for
multiple job targets
If your current resume focuses on your laboratory background, please
don’t send the same resume for marketing positions. It is
understandable that you may qualify for multiple positions or be
interested in pursuing alternate careers. If so, try to create a
customized resume for each job target.
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Nimish Thakkar is a sought-after certified
career management coach. He has helped thousands of clients, including
professionals at Fortune 500 companies, through cutting-edge career
management tools. Thakkar has authored hundreds of articles and is
regularly invited to speak on a wide range of career-related issues.
Nimish edits and manages a
free career information site,
SaiCareers.com, and is the CEO of a
professional resume writing service,