5 “Magic” Résumé Myths: Busted

Published: Dec 27, 2017

 Career Readiness       Job Search       Resumes & Cover Letters       
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If you’re looking for a job, chances are you’ve come across a lot of résumé advice. Anyone who wants to build their reputation in the hiring field has written an article on LinkedIn with “magic” tricks to use in your résumé that will purportedly help you get hired immediately. Many résumé writing services and recruitment agencies provide advice that ultimately serves to convince you to utilize their services and give them money. And many of these supposed career experts perpetuate myths that are not true, about how to create a winning résumé. Below, we’ve dispelled five of these common résumé myths.

Myth #1: “Use the Magic Buzzwords”

There are so many words that have become overused in résumés. Some of these aren’t inherently bad, but if you plan on using them, you need to analyze whether or not they come across as authentic or pandering. Try to avoid the following:

  • “Overachiever”
  • “Passionate”
  • “Results-driven”
  • “Team player”
  • “Go-getter”
  • “Outside-the-box”
  • “Strategic thinker”
  • “Detail-oriented”

The problem with these words is that they’ve been so overused in résumés and promotional materials that they’ve lost all meaning. Everyone is passionate about something and knows the importance of being a team player. While these are useful skills to have, you should show examples of you demonstrating these capabilities rather than rely on buzzwords. Instead of listing “team player” as a bullet point, include “collaborated with sales and design departments to create 15 marketing flyers” as an achievement. Specificity is key.

Myth #2: “State Your Objective” 

The “Objective” section that so many high school counselors and résumé templates suggest is, well, clichéd. The simple truth is that your objective in submitting a résumé is always to get a job. Many times, that job has little to do with overall life goals outside of earning enough money to survive and thrive. As a result, “Objective” sections often seem forced and disingenuous. Instead of trying to craft a creative objective, focus on things employers wish they saw on your résumé, like specific skills and standout accomplishments.

Myth #3: “List All Your Work Experience” 

You don’t need to include every work experience you’ve ever had on your résumé. It’s important to include only those experiences and skills that relate to the job for which you’re applying. You can even label your “Experience” section “Relevant Experience” to show it’s not a complete job history, but rather experiences that are related to the job at hand. You should strive to tailor your résumé to each position, highlighting your strengths for each specific role. You do not want to force your reader to sift through unimportant information and thus risk having your résumé be discarded altogether.

If you have a lot of experience or an in-depth portfolio, your résumé isn’t the best place to include every single bit of information. Instead, create an online portfolio or résumé that you can link to for potential employers that want to learn more. 

Myth #4: “Fill in Your Employment Gaps” 

If you’re concerned about gaps in your job history, the place to address it is in the cover letter or the interview, not in your résumé. Any employer who won’t accept explanations for unemployed periods is likely one you don’t want to work for anyway.

Myth #5: “Be General so You Appear Flexible”

Résumé template providers and some recruiters like to sell you the idea of a “perfect résumé,” which you theoretically don’t need to adjust for different jobs. This “perfect résumé” is as generic as possible, so as to be relevant to multiple fields. The problem with this formula is that the more general you are, the less you stand out. Employers want to see specific examples of why you’re a good fit. Including phrases from the job description in your résumé is a great way to show you can fit a company’s needs. The more specific you can be, the better the impression you will make on the hiring manager.