Answers to the six most common questions about resumes
While there are no strict rules when it comes to building a resume, there are several guidelines that you should always follow. The problem is that these guidelines change with the times. Should you include an objective? What about the one-page rule?
We reached out to former recruiter and certified professional resume writer Lisa Rangel for a refresher course on the most commonly asked questions about resumes, as judged by Google searches. Her responses are below.
Should you have an "objective" on the top of your resume?
Never! No more objectives on resumes. Objectives solely state what you want as the job seeker. Frankly, employers do not care what you want. They want to know how your past experience, education and training will add value to their organization if they decide to hire you. This is achieved with a summary.
Should it have a summary?
Absolutely! Not only does a summary outline how your past expertise could make a difference in the prospective company, it is the 'first impression' area of your resume. This is where you spell out clearly what job you are pursuing, so the recruiter/hiring manager does not have to guess what job you want. The resume summary is also an opportunity to include keywords that pertain to your profession and industry, that help with the keyword optimization of the document for resume database retrieval and for the information in your LinkedIn profile.
Should you include every job you have ever worked, even if it was just a two-month contract or was 25 years ago?
Generally speaking, I do not go back more than 15 years. There are exceptions to the rule. Did you work for a Big 8 CPA firm? We list that, since it is amazing training and upbringing in that profession to have started during that time. Were you on the finance team of MTV when it started or on a cool tech start up in the early 90's? That could be worth listing, if you are still a financial pioneer in your current position to show that you have always been on the forefront of your profession. I include contract assignments, if it makes sense to do so. It is not an automatic yes or no to leave it on or off.
Should your resume be only one page? Does this rule change with how long you have worked?
If you have 10 years or less experience, a one-page resume for most candidates is suitable. With over 10 years of experience, having a 2-page resume is very acceptable and, in some cases, three pages is ok, too. It needs to be as long as it needs to be, and not a word more. As you write, realize you must keep the reader engaged in 5-10 second increments. Just because you write it, does not mean it is going to be read. Even if it is a one-page resume, there are no guarantees that the reader will make it to the bottom of the page. Motivate your reader to keep scrolling and reading.
What about your interests? Many bankers share the same hobbies. Should you include yours?
If you have room, and you are trying to bring your resume to a full page (no half pages of information on a resume--commit to a page), then it is ok to include relevant interests that evoke intellect, action, vitality and team building. Listing marathon training, chess playing, basketball intramural sports or extensive travel is great to list briefly at the bottom. Avoid interests that offer information to the hiring manager that is not permissible to use in hiring decisions: i.e. groups that support religion, sex orientation, health conditions, etc, should not be included on your resume, generally speaking.
What about a picture?
Resume? No pictures on resumes for US job applications/resumes. Pictures are almost a requirement nowadays on LinkedIn profiles. These points are not to be confused. There are hiring regulations that prevent pictures being includes on corporate documents used in hiring decisions. Do not include pictures to make the HR manager's job easier and to prevent your resume from being excluded from the process.T
About the Author:
Lisa Rangel, the Managing Director of Chameleon Resumes, is,a former search firm recruiter, certified professional resume writer and holder of six additional job search certifications. She has been featured on eFinancialCareers.com, Investors Business Daily, About.com, BBC, Forbes.com, LinkedIn, Monster, US News & World Report, Fox Business News and Good Morning America. She has authored six niche resume and job search ebooks, including 99 Free Job Search Tips from An Executive Recruiter.