When it comes time to update a resume, very few people can just jump in and polish it up without hesitation. So, if you’re struggling, don’t fret. You’re not alone. Below are some common resume questions that you might have that might slow your update down.
Common Resume Question #1: How long should my resume be?
This is one of the most common resume questions. Most of the time, your resume should only be one page. If you’re new to the job market or have limited work experience, you should easily be able to stay within the one-page limit. In some cases, you may even struggle to fill it.
However, when you have extensive work experience and many accomplishments and skills that are relevant to the job opening you’re applying for, it may be tempting to add a second page. Usually, you can get away with doing so as long as you keep in mind that the chances of your second page being read are much lower. And, if the second page of your resume won’t be read, why bother?
Your resume is likely to make a stronger impact if you instead focus on making your first page as hard-hitting and as impactful as possible, perhaps with the help of a professional resume builder.
The only resumes that can legitimately be two pages or longer are those of senior executives with a long list of accomplishments, or those in academia or science and research fields who choose are listing published works, numerous patents, and/or relevant licenses.
Most of the time, your resume should only be one page. If you’re new to the job market or have limited work experience, you should easily be able to stay within the one-page limit. In some cases, you may even struggle to fill it.
Common Resume Question #2: Do I have to include employment dates?
One of the first warning signs recruiters scan for when they review a resume are long periods of unemployment between jobs. Not including dates of employment will immediately make recruiters suspicious that you are trying to hide employment gaps.
If you’re concerned about a short tenure at a job due to a layoff, include an explanation on your resume or in your cover letter. Similarly, if a resume gap is due to other circumstances out of your control, such as a health or family issue, show your integrity and honesty by explaining that directly on your resume instead of trying to hide it.
Common Resume Question #3: Which resume format should I use?
Of all of the common resume questions, this one might spark the most confusion. The three most common resume formats are chronological, functional, and hybrid (or “combination”) formats. Which you choose depends on several factors.
Functional resumes focus solely on your achievements and experience and avoid dates entirely, which I’ve noted isn’t a wise decision. Some job-seekers, therefore, will try hybrid resumes instead. This format seems to make a lot of sense when trying to switch careers since you want to emphasize transferable skills.
However, many recruiters frown upon combination resume formats for the same reason they dislike the functional format: they want a resume that includes clear employment dates. For that reason, a (reverse) chronological resume is almost always the only way to go.
Listing your current or most recent job first, the chronological format quickly enables an employer to see your work history at-a-glance. If you have an employment gap, and you’ve already provided an explanation in your resume, you can include any seasonal or temp work you’ve done, any education you’ve pursed, or volunteer experience you’ve gained during your time out of work.
For additional guidance on this topic, check out this LiveCareer article: 3 Popular Resume Formats that Get Job Offers
Common Resume Question #4: Which overused buzzwords should I avoid?
Of all the common resume questions, this is one that too few people ask themselves when writing their resumes. More often, job-seekers simply use the same generic words and vague phrases and descriptions that employers have seen thousands of times. These words and phrases tell a recruiter nothing about what you’ll bring to the table.
Dynamic: Instead of using this word, highlight an actual accomplishment that demonstrates that quality. Paint a picture for the recruiter rather than telling them that you are dynamic.
Trustworthy: Really? You mean you won’t steal paper clips? Unless being trustworthy is important to the job, don’t include it. If it is, prove it with a success story, not just the word.
Team Player: This one’s so overused it has almost lost its meaning. Give concrete examples of how you collaborate with others, or how you support and mentor staff. Give examples of how you go above and beyond, even when it’s not in your job description.
Strong Communication Skills: If you’re a good communicator, then communicate. Your entire resume should be an example of your strong communication skills.
Take a cue from professional writers: Show, don’t tell.
For most jobseekers, a chronological resume is almost always the only way to go.
Common Resume Question #5: What does not belong in a resume?
Unlike some of the other common resume questions, this one has a simple answer: only include information that will help get you an interview. That means: your current contact information, relevant recent work history, and your most impressive achievements and skills.
Conversely, avoid including any information that will detract from that goal. Specifically, adding personal information is one place where you can get into trouble. Here are some examples of what you should avoid including on your resume:
- Don’t include physical attributes such as your health, pregnancy status, or age.
- Don’t include personal information like marital status, whether or not you have (or plan to have) children, or your sexual orientation.
- Don’t include a photograph unless it’s expected, such as if you’re an actor, model, or television personality.
- Don’t include anything that can illegally be used to discriminate against you, unless you want to use that information as a filter. For example, if you have a disability, mentioning it on your resume gives the employer a chance to react positively, for example by emphasizing that their office is handicapped-accessible.
- Don’t include a resume objective. Include a resume summary instead.
- Don’t include any lies. You should be able to back up and detail any information you do include.
- Don’t include anything negative about previous employers.
- And, whatever you do, don’t include the phrase, “References available upon request.” Recruiters would prefer that you simply bring a list of references to the interview.