In most cases, our first introduction to a potential employer comes via resume. No wonder people put so much thought and effort into crafting carefully worded documents highlighting skills and accomplishments. There’s a lot of resume-writing tutorials floating around on the Internet, and many say the same things over and over.
According to Deborah Manning, a senior partner at the recruitment firm Lucas Groups, some of these tips aren’t worth following. In a post for Black Enterprise titled “3 Resume Myths Debunked,” Manning dismantles some pieces of advice you’re likely pretty used to hearing.
First, she says, don’t feel like your resume can’t exceed one page. If you’ve been in the game a long time, you might have too many skills and valuable experiences to squeeze onto a single page. Plus, nowadays, many companies use computer programs to scan for keywords before another human being even takes a look. Don’t take yourself out of the running by chopping out keywords that might get you called in for an interview. Manning does, however, caution against going over three pages.
When you submit that resume, regardless of length, you shouldn’t necessarily feel compelled to include a cover letter, Manning writes, debunking another myth. Again, Manning says, it’s entirely possible a computer will read your submission first, so send a cover letter only if the company asks for one, and in those instances, be sure to “address whatever has been requested from that employer.” She’s talking specific keywords related to the job.
Lastly, Manning looks at the issues of employment gaps. Traditional wisdom says to never include ’em, but Manning disagrees. “Explain what you did from your last job until now,” she writes. “You are giving that employer an explanation of what’s been going on in your life versus having them wonder where you’ve been for five months, one year, or two years.”
Be honest, she says, and talk about certifications you’ve earned, educational efforts you’ve taken, and even traveling you’ve done. It all answers key questions about who you are and where your talents lie, and none of it necessarily moves you to the bottom of the selection pool.