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Resume Mythbusting

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RESUME

With over 245 resumes for every interview granted, on average, according to the Georgia Department of Labor, major employers can’t feasibly read every resume. The solution – more and more employers use automated filtering systems that scan your resume when you upload it online or send it in an email. These applicant tracking systems, as they’re called, rank candidates based on the relevance of their experiences, and many large employers and job boards supposedly now use these scanning systems.

What this means for job seekers is that the way you see your resume when you submit it, is rarely the way it’s viewed. Instead, an employer may never see your resume until you hand it over in the interview room – that is, if you make it to the interview. What may actually be keeping you from getting the interview call, ironically enough, may be the very same resume tips that job seekers have been following for years. Here’s the run-through on some common tips that, in the current age of resume databases, may hold you back:

Myth #1: Show a breadth of experiences

We are quickly becoming a society of specialists. As a result, hiring managers gravitate to employees who have work experiences that build on each other, rather than job candidates who have a scattered job history. This trend is reflected in the emergence of semantic and contextual searching technologies that automatically rank candidates based on how relevant experiences listed in your resume are against the job employers are looking to fill. As a result, listing a smorgasbord of skills can work against you.

Solution: Keep your resume focused! Only list the experiences that are relevant and make sure to tailor each experience to be as relevant as possible. Consider the job description your cheat sheet.

Myth #2: Make your resume beautiful to stand out

While this is usually the case if you’re in a creative field, styling your resume can place you at a disadvantage. Employer databases regularly capture only a fraction of the content uploaded from a resume. Resumes with unique headers and formatting are even harder to upload. Meaning, if your information is not captured, it’s never considered.

Don’t believe it? Recall the last time you uploaded your resume into an online job application. How much of the information did you have to rearrange, to place in the correct order? Now recall all those times you weren’t given a chance to correct your information after submitting your resume.

Solution: Keep it simple! Make your resume format clean or use a template. Thousands of templates can be found online by simply doing a Google search.

Myth #3: Use a functional resume to emphasize skills and hide gaps

Let’s face it – less and less of us are sticking to a single career path, and the average employment duration is now less than five years. As a result, many job seekers want to blur the less applicable gaps in work experience by using a functional resume. However, without dates, applicant tracking systems are almost completely lost at organizing your information into a database and can no longer produce information on how recent or how deep your knowledge may be.

Solution: Keep your resume chronological. Highlight key skills in a summary statement, but keep experiences in an easy to follow format and order.

Mona Abdel-Halim is co- inventor of Resunate.com, a free web app and a resume builder. She also blogs at blog.resunate.com

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://www.resumenet.net Paul

    Short and sweet list … the number of resumes per job always shocks me.

  • http://www.jenfallanphotography.com Jen

    Really good things to keep in mind. I haven’t updated my resume in a while and I suppose the time is right, so I’ll have to keep these points in mind. One thing I hadn’t thought about is how much analysis is done via computer of resumes nowadays. It seems that there is less and less of the human element making decisions as time goes on.

  • http://www.resumeformat.org/ Resume format

    Very informative post ! like the all hard work you have done on this post… keep posting.. :)

  • PatM

    Since most employers are scanning resumés now, ensure you send it in a 9″ X 12″ envelope, with a cardboard stiffener to prevent postal mangling. Folding resumés now can cause scanning errors across crease lines, possibly obliterating key words — the LAST thing you want to happen. Alternatively, you may wish to format your resumé (for scanning) in such a way where your information is away from potential crease areas.

  • http://www.drunkonpork.com GS

    Very true – especially #2. I work in HR at a fortune 100 company, and see the negative effects of uploading all the time.

  • http://novozymes.com DarleneG

    Who sends a hard copy resume anymore?

  • Omome

    Precise and concise, thanks.

  • Drew

    Excellent article – I’m going to check out resunate.com!

    I talked to an HR guy from Time-Warner Cable recently and he told me they had more than 800,000 applications for about 11,000 jobs last year – I was astounded!

  • http://www.aspyresolutions.com Dana Leavy

    Totally agree with the last one – show the experience chronologically, but highlight the skills and effectively brand yourself with a summary that clearly indicates your skills, strengths & core competencies. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.shebloggs.com Shebloggs

    I agree with the myths for the most part. I think it’s important to have a resume that visually appealing. Let’s face it, if a resume is not structured well and doesn’t entice a reader to continue reading, it’s pretty much worthless.

    For that reason, I suggest having different formats. One for online applications and one that can be taken along to interviews and emailed to hiring a managers/recruiters.

    I’m also not a fan of strictly relying on online job applications as the main source of finding an opportunity and don’t think resume strategies should be targeted strictly to that approach. Networking is a far more effective method and networking with a visually unappealing resume is not the best approach.

    • Anonymous

      I think the article doesn’t take the range of common scenarios into account. The best situation is having a contact with a hiring manager (or valued team member making a referral.) In that instance, you can focus on creating a resume that can tell your story. You won’t need attention-getting flourish, and you won’t need to worry about machine translation.

  • Anonymous

    I’m new in the resume sending market, for the past 17 years I’ve moved from position to position under authority of a bishop. Now I’m looking for a work outside the church (protestant, that is) I sent out many resumes. I’ve been fascinated that every interviewer so far picked up on my work in Somalia in the 80’s over anything else.

    What I take from this is if you have a unique experience do not leave it out!

    • http://twitter.com/1pageproposal 1-Page Job

      Wow, Somalia is amazing! How is the job search going? I am surprised that you would be mass distributing your resume. I am sure you would have a lot great experience. Have you submitted a job proposal to employers? The reason I am sure that you would benefit from that, is it would probably be hard to list all your experience on a resume and not be excluding a lot of what you “CAN DO” for a potential employer.

  • http://wellbeing-support.com Ana wellbeing

    Nice article:) Anyway i was researching for some articles about Myth Basters, but also i found this interesting.
    Liked You!

  • http://twitter.com/ckulfan Craig Kulfan

    Good article.

    A couple of additional tips. Regarding myth #1 keep your resume focused on your contributions. As a hiring manager I dread (and usually skip) reading long explanations of what the company is doing. I am not looking to hire the company, I am looking to hire you.

    Regarding myth #2, our company typically imports resumes into a tool that renders them in HTML or text. It is easy to distinguish the pretty resumes, because they usually look terrible in translation. Make sure your resume translates into a readable format.

    Regarding myth #3, one of my pet peeves is unexplained gaps in resumes. If I can see a progression in the resume I am less likely to focus on the holes because I can see the trend.

  • http://twitter.com/monafro Mona Abdel-Halim

    @Shebloggs: Yes – your resume should still be appealing and easy to read to the human eye. After all, that’s who will hopefully be seeing it if you land an interview. Resumes that are easy to scan in a resume database should follow this rule as well. Effectively, database scanning abilities is more and more built to mimic human scanning abilities. If you cannot understand the organization of a resume, then it’s not likely a machine will be able to.

    I encourage using templates that are suited for both humans and applicant tracking systems. We have such templates available at Resunate.com precisely for this dual purpose, which is why we call them “Templates That Matter”.

  • http://pvcguttering.net Dimitrihouse

    Is it just me or is the first sentence of this article INCREDIBLY depressing?