Write a Resume That Will Get You Noticed

Myth #1 — Your résumé must be one page long.

Reality — A two-page résumé can be just as effective as a one-page resume, if it’s interesting to read. And in highly technical fields, such as programming or biological research, you may need to write a resume of two-pages to tell your full story.

Avoid exceeding two pages when you edit a resume unless your situation absolutely demands it. A college president with 20+ years of experience might need a three-page résumé. The rest of us don’t.

Myth #2 — You shouldn’t use abbreviations in your résumé.

Reality — It’s perfectly acceptable to abbreviate words like “division” (div.), “department” (dept.), “company” (co.), “university” (univ.), etc. in order to save space. Just be sure you’re consistent — if you abbreviate a word one way, you should abbreviate it the same way again.

Myth #3 — Your résumé must list and describe every job you’ve ever had.

Reality — It’s OK to summarize earlier or irrelevant employment. For most people, it’s best to focus on experience since 1980-1985. Dates earlier than that can mark you as “over-qualified” or “over-paid,” depending on your industry. Just be sure to NEVER include false information. If you didn’t graduate from college, don’t claim a degree! Instead, you can say: “BA: Business coursework, Large State University (three years).”

Myth #4 — You should include references in your résumé.

Reality — NEVER include references in your résumé.

Why?

You want to have control over when your references are called. If you include them in your résumé, an employer can contact them without your knowledge. You won’t have time to prep them on the job you’re seeking and the questions they might be asked.

As a follow-up to this, it’s really understood that you have references (just as it’s understood that you dial “1” before making a long-distance call). You can use that space to talk more about how you can help an employer. So, delete this tired phrase from your résumé: “References available upon request.”

Myth #5 — If you write a résumé that is good enough, it should produce a job offer.

Reality — The aim of your résumé is not to get you a job directly, although that has happened with some of my clients. The aim is to write a résumé to make the phone ring (or your e-mail box fill up) and land you a job interview. It’s YOUR job to prepare for that interview and get the job offer.