Over the years as a career professional, I've had clients tell me about some pretty bad resume writing advice they have received. Here are the top five pieces of advice that I believe all job seekers should ignore.
- List your most recent employment as current even if your employment has been terminated. This advice probably stems from the fact that people believe they are more desirable to an employer if they are currently employed. But employment dates can be checked with one phone call. Why jeopardize your credibility by showcasing inaccurate information? Honesty is still the best policy. A better strategy is to include a brief description of why you are no longer employed (i.e. downsizing, office closing, etc.)
- Omit graduation dates. Some people think that if you omit your graduation date you eliminate the chances of the reader figuring out your age. Maybe, but at the same time, leaving this information off might lead them to conclude that you are trying to hide your age and this will raise a red flag. So by leaving the dates off, you are actually calling more attention to the very thing you are trying to distract your reader from. Be transparent. Include graduation dates. If the reader truly has a bias against your candidacy because of your age, this probably isn't the right company for you. If you are concerned about potential age bias, research the companies that hire older workers and target those employers directly.
- Include all hobbies. A better strategy is to only include hobbies that have relevance to your job target. Most hiring authorities don't really care if you enjoy reading and cooking. But if you have a hobby that you are passionate about that correlates to the job you are applying for, then I say go for it.
- Be sure to keep your resume to one page. Whether your resume is one page or 30 pages, no one is actually reading it. They are scanning it to quickly determine your value proposition and potential fit within their organization. Focus on making that clear on either one or two pieces of paper. Include a headline that showcases your professional identity, a profile that communicates the big picture of what you can do for an employer, an areas of expertise section that details your skills, and themed competency categories that focus on your most important accomplishments.
- Eliminate jobs you held more than 15 years ago. Most hiring authorities and recruiters in particular will want to know the whole chronology. If you have an extensive career history, focus on the past 15 years of employment and create a separate, abbreviated category for your early experience. But don't act like that early part of your life never happened.