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Answers to the six most common questions about resumes

Resume

While there are no strict rules when it comes to building a resume, there are several guidelines that you should always follow. The problem is that these guidelines change with the times. Should you include an objective? What about the one-page rule?

We reached out to former recruiter and certified professional resume writer Lisa Rangel for a refresher course on the most commonly asked questions about resumes, as judged by Google searches. Her responses are below.

Should you have an “objective” on the top of your resume?

Never! No more objectives on resumes. Objectives solely state what you want as the job seeker. Frankly, employers do not care what you want. They want to know how your past experience, education and training will add value to their organization if they decide to hire you. This is achieved with a summary.

Should it have a summary?

Absolutely! Not only does a summary outline how your past expertise could make a difference in the prospective company, it is the ‘first impression’ area of your resume. This is where you spell out clearly what job you are pursuing, so the recruiter/hiring manager does not have to guess what job you want.  The resume summary is also an opportunity to include keywords that pertain to your profession and industry, that help with the keyword optimization of the document for resume database retrieval and for the information in your LinkedIn profile.

Should you include every job you have ever worked, even if it was just a two-month contract or was 25 years ago?

Generally speaking, I do not go back more than 15 years. There are exceptions to the rule. Did you work for a Big 8 CPA firm? We list that, since it is amazing training and upbringing in that profession to have started during that time. Were you on the finance team of MTV when it started or on a cool tech start up in the early 90’s? That could be worth listing, if you are still a financial pioneer in your current position to show that you have always been on the forefront of your profession. I include contract assignments, if it makes sense to do so. It is not an automatic yes or no to leave it on or off.

Should your resume be only one page? Does this rule change with how long you have worked?

If you have 10 years or less experience, a one-page resume for most candidates is suitable. With over 10 years of experience, having a 2-page resume is very acceptable and, in some cases, three pages is ok, too. It needs to be as long as it needs to be, and not a word more. As you write, realize you must keep the reader engaged in 5-10 second increments. Just because you write it, does not mean it is going to be read.  Even if it is a one-page resume, there are no guarantees that the reader will make it to the bottom of the page. Motivate your reader to keep scrolling and reading.

What about your interests? Many bankers share the same hobbies. Should you include yours?

If you have room, and you are trying to bring your resume to a full page (no half pages of information on a resume–commit to a page), then it is ok to include relevant interests that evoke intellect, action, vitality and team building. Listing marathon training, chess playing, basketball intramural sports or extensive travel is great to list briefly at the bottom. Avoid interests that offer information to the hiring manager that is not permissible to use in hiring decisions: i.e. groups that support religion, sex orientation, health conditions, etc, should not be included on your resume, generally speaking.

What about a picture?

Resume? No pictures on resumes for US job applications/resumes. Pictures are almost a requirement nowadays on LinkedIn profiles. These points are not to be confused. There are hiring regulations that prevent pictures being includes on corporate documents used in hiring decisions. Do not include pictures to make the HR manager’s job easier and to prevent your resume from being excluded from the process.T

About the Author:

Lisa Rangel, the Managing Director of Chameleon Resumes, is,a former search firm recruiter, certified professional resume writer and holder of six additional job search certifications. She has been featured on eFinancialCareers.com, Investors Business Daily, About.com, BBC, Forbes.com, LinkedIn, Monster, US News & World Report, Fox Business News and Good Morning America. She has authored six niche resume and job search ebooks, including 99 Free Job Search Tips from An Executive Recruiter.

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Comments (2)

Comments
  1. Lisa Rangel, the Managing Director of Chameleon Resumes, sets an even if not moderate tone that I think should be trusted by serious job seekers, especially those 50+ who suddenly want a better paying job or have recently “lost” their job. I say this, because there are more than 2 million LinkedIn members who have the keywords “careers” or “career” in their profile. Many of them have their own firm opinion about what a generic resume should look like.
    Lisa, as a former senior pro recruiter, I believe, would also agree that if at all possible job seekers should do their best, every time, to customize their resume to the wants, problems that need to be solved, and basic requirements of the available job. This requires work in the form of sleuthing, a potential topic for Lisa to write about if she has not already done so. Finally, there are a growing number of potential employers who eschew resumes. They want to “experience” you first and then if a resume is needed for their files, you can tailor it to the job opening as you accept it. It’s also a good idea, in my mind, to explore the many innovative alternatives to resumes. Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts inspired by Lisa thorough and measured content.

    Stephen Q Shannon Reply
     
  2. Employers seeking employees are advertising but they get a flood of Resumes, which they just can’t handle.

    Perhaps, they find a short cut by looking at resumes coming from their Net Working Associates.
    I find that candidates can write the finest of Resumes, but shall not be considered by recruiters because of hiring imbalance. Too many applicants seeking too few jobs.

    That’s because unlike in most countries, there are too many qualified candidates and not enough job opportunities in Canada. This is also why recruiters simply throw most resumes within the first 5-10 seconds in the trash can. They just don’t care to send a reply to the candidate who anxiously awaits the life decision.

    In Europe however, most recruiters have the decency of replying to each resume received and they do have a reason for the decline!

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