Many job seekers get stressed when they think about putting together or revising their resume. If you ask thirty different people for their opinion on your resume, you’ll most likely get thirty different responses. Usually these folks will suggest preferences in an effort to be helpful. Unfortunately this can leave the job seeker frustrated when some of these suggestions start to run counter to each other. Because of this, I’m usually very cautious about providing resume guidance. There isn’t one way to write a resume, but there are some wrong ways. This week I wanted to post a few of the most common questions I receive along with my responses.
Q: I haven’t done a resume for a long time (or ever), so how do I get started?
A: Putting together a resume isn’t as difficult or overwhelming as some people make it. There are many free online resources and templates available. Don’t reinvent the wheel on this; follow examples of others, while personalizing it with your information. Most resumes include name, contact information, experience and/or skills, and education. If yours has these, then you’re on the right track!
Q: How long should the resume be?
A: Generally speaking, I recommend that most people put together either a one or two page resume. I’m not a big fan of partial pages and would recommend people to either contract or expand to make sure you have full length pages.
Q: How important is the resume?
A: It is important, and you should have one if you’re seeking work. Remember, though, that ultimately, people hire people, not resumes. Forming good relationships with others and utilizing those during your search is more important. The person with the best resume doesn’t necessarily get the job, but the person they like and trust the best usually does.
Q: How many of my past jobs do I need to list?
A: First, it is important to determine how many of your jobs are relevant to your search. If you made a career change, or are looking to make one, then listing a lot of experiences that aren’t relevant to your target position isn’t suggested. However, if you’ve had a long career and many positions in your field, then I’d suggest limiting them to the last decade or so. Most employers are interested in discussing what you’ve done at your most recent job, or perhaps the last couple, so don’t worry about having to list every job you’ve ever done on the resume.
Q: I’ve heard resumes are becoming obsolete. Is this true?
A: I’m not seeing any signs of this happening any time soon. But if you have the right relationships, you can get a job with your resume written on a napkin, or without one at all. LinkedIn is a great tool that allows people to put together an online profile that often mirrors their resume. This is a great way for prospective employers to find you and inquire about your interest and availability. If this happens, they’ll still probably want you to provide a resume, so make sure you have one ready.
Q: Is it worth rewriting my resume for each specific position that I’m applying for?
A: Yes, absolutely. I believe strongly you should tailor your resume to each specific position that you apply for. Take the time to learn as much as you can about the company and its needs, so you can include as much relevant information about yourself that might help you stand out as a strong candidate.
Q: How do you feel about listing a section that includes hobbies/interests?
A: I would not include them, but I don’t think it is necessarily bad if you choose to have them either. Just use caution since listing these items could help, or could hurt based on how the prospective employer perceives them. I’d prefer to search for common interests during the interview with the hiring manager rather than include a list on the resume.