5 Resume Myths Debunked: What You Really Need to Know

Once you decide it’s time to leave the classroom, your obvious next step is to create an amazing resume. But did you know there are some resume myths you need to avoid in order to get the interview (and position) to which you are applying?

You may think this sounds crazy, but it has probably been a few years (or maybe even MANY years) since you’ve designed a resume. So I want to spare you the agony of unnecessary rejection letters by sharing 5 resume myths that you may not realize are faux pas in the realm of resume creation.

Resume Myths Busted

Myth 1: You need an objective

Creating an objective for your resume has always seemed like a complete waste of time to me…even back when I started applying for jobs. My thought was “If I am interviewing for a position as a 3rd grade teacher, then my objective would obviously be to get hired as a third grade teacher.”

This seems pretty intuitive from where I stand. And thankfully the rest of the world tends to agree now which is why it is the first on our list of resume myths.

Now don’t fret if your original resume included this useless piece of information because you can simply remove it for your updated resume! And that actually solves a big problem.

Now you have some prime real estate to include other relevant bits of goodness…but what’s the best thing to put there?

Well, this is going to be where you put your elevator pitch.

In case you’ve never heard the phrase “elevator pitch,” this is what you would say to the CEO of the company for which you want to be hired if he/she walked into an elevator where you were standing. You have an extremely short window of time where you have this person’s complete attention and you want to give your most succinct and convincing statement as to why you should be hired.

Obviously in the case of your resume, you want to include the most relevant information that will make you stand out from the rest of the candidates. While the application panel may merely skim your resume, what you say here will make them either want to look more closely or throw your resume in the trash.

So be assertive with tangible numbers and explain what you have accomplished that is applicable to the position they are looking to fill.

Myth 2: Any email address is acceptable

Did you know that 76% of resumes are thrown out because of unprofessional email addresses? When I read that, I thought that couldn’t be right…but it turns out this is true.

While you may have a fun email address for your personal account, you might want to create a new one that is more professional and dedicated to business ventures. This allows you to keep all of your correspondence with potential employers completely professional and it keeps all of the emails you get from Old Navy, Lululemon, and Target in your personal email account.

So what makes a professional email address?

The best email address is one that includes your name. Of course, most of us are going to need to add punctuation or numbers in order to find one that isn’t already taken. Consider adding…

  • period between your first and last name (ie jennifer.holt@gmail.com)
  • A middle initial (ie jennifer.r.holt@gmail.com)
  • Two or three numbers (ie jennifer.holt.32@gmail.com)

This allows you to keep your name in your email address while also allowing for all the others with the same name as you!! Also, doing this gives potential employers one more interaction with your name…which is always a plus!

The other thing you want to consider is a current and well known email platform. This includes email providers like gmail, yahoo, and icloud. If employers are going to be sending correspondence, they want to make sure it is to a reputable platform, and because you can have as many email addresses as you want on these platforms, there’s no reason not to use them.

Myth 3: The longer the resume the better

False, false, false. Regardless of what else you have heard out in the world or on the Internet, your resume should be no more than one page long.

While there are a variety of reasons for this, I want to focus on one particular reason. You want there to be a low barrier to entry for going from applicant to interviewee. For this to happen, you need to captivate your potential employer with a concise and relevant resume.

Think about it.

An employer posts a job listing and has multiple candidates submit applications and resumes. Now the employer has to filter through all of these documents for each applicant.

If you were in that position, would you want to have to print a multiple page resume and read through 3-4 pages of work history, references, and everything in between just to determine if this one candidate merits an interview?

I daresay, you wouldn’t.

By providing a one page resume that features your best qualities and applicable experience, you are doing most of the “heavy lifting” for your potential employer and all but guaranteeing a spot on the short list to the interviews!

So as you think about what to keep and what to cut, you want to consider the position to which you are applying. If you have experience from 10 years ago that is irrelevant to the job you are pursuing, don’t include it. Focus on those things your employer needs to know.

Consider your one page resume a little bit like house hunting.

You want your resume to have…

Think “less is more” and keep your resume to one page ONLY!!!

Myth 4: Be sure to include your references on your resume

As an applicant, you might think you are saving your potential employer a step by including your references on your resume…but this is another one of the resume myths to avoid. While I follow the idea that you want to be helpful, providing your references on your resume is actually a “no no” because it can seem overly-confident on your part.

You might be wondering why. Well, when do employers typically ask about references? Once they have decided you are the right fit for the position, they will request a list of your references. So for you to provide those before you’ve even interviewed can seem arrogant and be a reason you don’t get the job.

Now, if there is a place on the application where you are asked to include references, then by all means, include them. But when it comes to your resume, do NOT include your references and don’t even include a line that says references available upon request.

The employer knows you will provide those references if you are chosen as the ideal candidate. So in the meantime, just stick to the traditional resume content like work experience and leave the references off.

Myth 5: You don’t need a cover letter

This one is interesting because as we look at resume myths, a cover letter isn’t technically part of your resume document, but it is a topic that I think is well worth our time to investigate.

While I posed this myth one way, the jury is still out as to whether or not you need to include a cover letter with your résumé. There are two divisive schools of thought on this, and each side has logical points for their particular point of view.

So let’s take a quick second to dig into each one and determine where we stand on this particular issue.

No Cover Letter 

The people who are in this camp use the fact that writing a cover letter is just re-stating everything you included on the resume and it is a waste of time.

While I agree it does take more time, I don’t believe this makes it useless;  just because something takes extra time to do doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the investment.

There are also those who say just stick with the one page resume and call it a day.

While I can definitely get in line with their thinking, I would contend that since most applications are completed and submitted online, if there is a place to submit a cover letter (even if it is optional)…just do it!

If the applicant reviewers don’t want to read the cover letter, they don’t have to print it.

Cover Letter

The other camp says ALWAYS include a cover letter. These individuals are of the mindset that this just gives your potential employer more information…especially if you are following the one page resume rule. 

As I mentioned before, when you apply online, many application portals give you the option to add a cover letter. Since these application platforms are designed with generic questions and small spaces to include your thoughts, adding a cover letter is a concrete way for you to showcase your excellent writing skills and gives credence to your claims that you’re a skilled communicator.

I know I’ve mentioned my husband many times on the podcast in reference to resumes, interviews, and applications because sitting in on interviews and reviewing applications and resumes are a large part of his current position.

So I asked him what his thoughts were on cover letters and he told me that he appreciates cover letters because they give him the opportunity to get to know the candidate a little bit better and judge their communication abilities.

I daresay that ANY job you have will require you to be able to communicate clearly and succinctly. So why not take advantage of the opportunity in your cover letter to showcase that exact skill?

Personally, I tend to lean more in this direction simply because it makes more logical sense to me. However, there is one very specific instance where I say without a doubt do NOT include a cover letter. Are you ready? I think this is going to surprise you…

When it is explicitly stated for you NOT to include a cover letter.

One very important thing to remember is that employers want to hire individuals that can follow directions. If the application says do not submit a cover letter, don’t do it!!

While we have covered the five biggest resume myths, I want to mention one last thing. Make sure you read, re-read, and have someone else read your resume.

There is no reason for your resume to include typos.

This article by Career Builder states that 77% of resumes are trashed because they include only one typo! So I think it’s fair to say that even the most highly qualified individual is only going to get so far in the application process with a poor resume.

The litmus test for a killer resume includes an elevator pitch (NOT an objective), a professional email address (that is housed on a common platform), a one page document, no references and no reference to references (you see what I did there?), and a cover letter.

By including each of these components, you will be well on your way to a plethora of interviews.

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