When you're putting together your resume, don't assume the format you've used in the past is still your best option. Advice you learned long ago may not still apply, and even today's conventional wisdom isn't always accurate. Don't fall victim to the following resume format myths.
Always Starting with an Objective
This has been standard resume writing advice for many years. However, it no longer applies in today's job market. After all, the employer already knows your aim, which is to get the job you're applying for. Don't bother stating the obvious, and skip ahead to the information that matters, or instead of an objective, write a powerful and descriptive summary statement.
Always Using a Chronological Format
It is true that the chronological format, which lists your employment history in reverse chronological order, is the most widely used style of resume writing. That you should always use chronological style, however, is one of the resume format myths that could hold back a less-experienced applicant or someone in the process of switching careers. If that is the case for you, a functional or chrono-functional hybrid resume is better suited to highlight your applicable skills and education. Instead of dividing your resume up by previous positions, focus on the most marketable skills you possess and under them list your experiences and achievements related to them. This shows off your abilities while not calling attention to gaps in your employment history, unlike a strictly chronological resume.
Listing Every Previous Job You've Had
The idea that including many jobs is a good thing is another common resume format myth. The person reading your resume doesn't want your entire life history; he or she wants to know what qualifications you would bring to the job. Therefore, you should give priority to jobs that bear at least a little relevance to the position you're seeking. If you can describe transferable skills learned and how they are applicable, you have more leeway in discussing employment in other fields. Don't let your important experience get lost in a list of irrelevant jobs; consider placing your most relevant experience first. Including short-lived and highly diverse employment experiences may suggest a lack of focus or attention span.
Listing Every Certification
Again, you don't want to obscure the important information by burying it in other, unimportant details. This is one of the easiest resume format myths to fall for because you naturally want to share your hard-earned qualifications. Ask yourself, "Does this certification matter for the job I am applying to?" If not, do not include it. For example, it is unlikely that your CPR certification will help you earn a sales position, although it would be extremely relevant for a position as a childcare provider. Listing irrelevant certifications takes up precious resume space and may suggest a lack of consideration on your part, so only list certifications and other distinctions that qualify you as a stronger candidate for the particular job.
Making Your Resume as Long as Possible
The best resume is the clearest and most focused on the information your potential employer is seeking. That means keeping it short and to the point. You should be able to list your relevant experience, education, skills, awards, licenses, certifications, professional memberships and affiliations, without exceeding one page per 10 years of professional experience. Keep in mind that a one-page resume is stronger than a resume that conveys the same content in just over a page.
Keep in mind that traditional advice may no longer apply to today's professional world and you'll be less likely to make a mistake based on resume format myths.
You can find more advice on LiveCareer to help you maximize your resume's reach.