Crafting the perfect résumé is a hard-enough challenge before trying to factor in all the myths there are about the process. However, some of those common myths — including your résumé can’t be more than one page or it’s OK to have some white lies on your résumé — hold very little water among companies looking to hire employees. To separate fact from fiction, several experts gave the truth behind some of their favorite myths on what companies look for in a résumé.
Myth: Grade point average is a top consideration
Truth: I don’t even consider it when I am interviewing potential employees. I know that a 4.0 can mean that you took relatively easy classes to pad your GPA. I also am aware that you can be excellent in your major and have non-related topics destroy your GPA. For me, that was Spanish and statistics, neither of which is necessary or relevant in my chosen line of work. What I am more interested in is examples of your work as a showcase of your ability. – Shelli Dallacqua, president, Shelten Media
Myth: Résumés should be one page.
Truth: Résumés are allowed to be two pages unless you are stretching the information. One page just isn’t enough, unless you are right out of school. — Jill MacFadyen, career and outplacement coach
Myth: Achievements should be highlighted in a separate section.
Truth: By separating accomplishments from the experience, recruiters are more likely to overlook this section. Instead, showcase them by bulleting them in the relevant sections. — David Hardtke, chief data scientist, Bright.com
Myth: Résumés should have your entire work history.
Truth: If you have been working for 30 years and the first few years were in an outside field, you can certainly drop selective things. Same thing is true about internships after you have 10 to 15 years of experience, unless those internships or prior employers and your work are awesome examples of what you are capable of or the employer’s name itself may garner some interest. – Tiffani Murray, résumé writer and career coach, Personality on a Page
Myth: Your résumé should be general to increase your chances of getting a job.
Truth: Highly customized and targeted résumés are the only ones that are successful in securing interviews that can lead to job offers. Instead of marketing a general résumé, job seekers should take the time to do extensive research to understand the required skills, expertise, experience and qualifications for their job target. This information can be used as a guideline for tailoring résumés and other marketing materials. – Abby Locke, executive career architect at Premier Writing Solutions
Myth: Paper résumés are enough.
Truth: LinkedIn is changing hiring. In another few years, employers will not be able to hire without it and the LinkedIn profile is replacing the need for a résumé. – Tom Armour, co-founder High Return Selection
Myth: Don’t include social media information.
Truth: Because most recruiters are now visiting your publicly accessible social media pages anyway, it is a good practice to include them in your contact information on your résumé. Specifically, you should include a link to your LinkedIn profile. Just make sure to keep your social media pages consistent and professional. Information on your LinkedIn profile should match your résumé — be sure to check that dates of employment and other key facts are consistent. — Eric Semon, director of customer success Hiring Thing
Myth: White lies are OK
Truth: Honesty is the best and only policy. A résumé is a factual history of your work experience. Do not embellish or overstate your accomplishments or responsibilities. Employers value integrity and you demonstrate that by being honest and forthright in all your interactions, starting with your résumé. Many companies will use outside firms to perform verifications with prior employers and schools. – Lynne Sarikas, director of Northeastern University’s MBA Career Center
Myth: A PDF is better than a Microsoft Word document
Truth: Résumés should not be posted in PDF format. PDFs can sometimes prevent keyword-scanning software on job boards or applicant-tracking systems from picking up critical information that allows you to be found or captured — in essence making you invisible. — Megan Pittsley-Fox, career coach, résumé writer and recruiter at Work Life Careers
Myth: A good résumé will get you a job.
Truth: A good résumé will get you an interview. Once you are in front of the hiring manager, you will need to sell yourself even better than the résumé sold you to gain the phone call. The résumé is only one step in the very involved job search process. – Melanie Denny, professional résumé writer and president Résumé Evolution
Myth: Don’t sweat the small stuff on your résumé — a few grammatical errors or typos are expected.
Truth: Sweat the small stuff because it shows that you pay attention to detail, and are serious and professional. Otherwise, you come across as careless and most employers don’t want to hire careless people. — Tracy McCarthy, chief human resource officer at SilkRoad