13 Biggest Myths About Resumes That Could Cost You a Job

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Don't let these resume myths stand between you and your next career breakthrough.
Updated Jan. 4, 2024
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Managers congratulating candidate at interview

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Creating a compelling resume is essential to fostering career success and finding a job that can help you stop living paycheck to paycheck.

However, misguided beliefs about what makes a resume effective can inadvertently jeopardize your job prospects.

Here are 13 prevalent myths about resumes that may be holding you back.

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One resume fits all jobs

ijeab/Adobe hiring managers discussing things with candidate

Crafting a resume tailored to each job opportunity might seem time-consuming, but the reality is that a generic resume won't impress employers.

Customization is key: A targeted resume highlighting skills and experiences relevant to the specific position increases your chances of grabbing the recruiter's attention.

This extra effort demonstrates your genuine interest in the role and the unique value you provide. That sets you apart from candidates and might result in landing a job that helps you get ahead financially.

Always have an objective statement

Drobot Dean/Adobe asian woman giving resume to managers

Evolving hiring practices have debunked the myth that every resume requires an objective statement. Modern resumes should include a concise professional summary highlighting your skills and goals, making objective statements redundant.

So, replace the traditional objective statement with a compelling professional summary that succinctly communicates your key qualifications, experiences, and career objectives.

Put your education first

Studio Romantic/Adobe candidates waiting for their interview

While highlighting your educational background is vital, it's a myth that it must always precede your work experience on your resume.

Instead, place your educational experience wherever it best enhances your candidacy for the job. If your work experience is more relevant to the position, consider placing it before your education to emphasize your practical qualifications.

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Hide your employment gaps

insta_photos/Adobe man holding african american woman cv

Rather than hiding employment gaps, be transparent about your time off. Explain if you used the time off to engage in professional or personal development.

Addressing gaps with confidence emphasizes that you are a resilient candidate who learns from life experiences and uses them to grow.

Only put paid work experience on your resume

Pixel-Shot/Adobe attractive woman waiting at interview

Unpaid experiences — such as volunteer work, internships, or freelance gigs — can contribute significantly to your skill set.

These entries on your resume showcase passion and commitment attributes that employers value.

Highlighting unpaid experiences also demonstrates that your motivation extends beyond financial incentives, a quality many employers find admirable.

Your resume alone will get you a job

djile/Adobe african man shaking hand with manager

A well-crafted resume is essential, but it's a tool, not a guarantee. Your resume should be part of a broader strategy that includes networking and interviews.

Your resume serves as a gateway, capturing attention and opening doors. However, personal interactions and showcasing how you fit culturally are equally crucial in securing the job.

Your resume should fit on one page

bnenin/Adobe female candidate at interview with recruiter

The “one-page resume” rule is a myth. If you have extensive experience, limiting yourself to one page might mean omitting crucial details.

It’s OK to let your achievements spill onto the second page if it helps you provide a comprehensive overview rather than sacrificing valuable information.

Just make sure that every detail on your resume adds value and aligns with the job you're applying for.

Don't use colored ink

djrandco/Adobe manager shaking hand with male candidate

Contrary to an outdated belief, incorporating subtle color into your resume can enhance its visual appeal and draw attention to key sections.

Opt for muted tones to maintain a professional look while ensuring your resume stands out in a pile. Just remember to exercise restraint: A touch of color can be effective, but an excessively colorful resume may come across as unprofessional.

Your references need to be listed

StratfordProductions/Adobe stressed candidates waiting at interview

It is OK to preserve valuable resume space by excluding references until they're explicitly requested.

Including references on your resume can seem premature. Instead, create a document with your references that you'll be ready to share upon request.

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Using buzzwords guarantees success

Africa Studio/Adobe woman waiting for interview indoors

While knowing industry-specific keywords is vital, overloading your resume with buzzwords can be counterproductive.

Instead, use keywords judiciously to create an authentic and compelling narrative. Rather than relying solely on buzzwords, focus on showcasing concrete examples of how you've applied your skills in previous roles.

Employers carefully read each resume

Monkey Business/Adobe business woman interviewing male candidate

Many hiring managers are too busy to read every resume meticulously. For that reason, it's important to craft a resume with concise and engaging content that stands out visually.

Grab the manager’s attention with a well-organized resume that immediately highlights your key qualifications. Make sure your achievements and skills are easily scannable, allowing hiring managers to grasp your suitability for the position quickly.

You can't be too creative with your resume

Freedomz/Adobe male candidate shaking hands with Interviewer

Creativity is valuable, but not at the expense of clarity and professionalism. You want your creativity to enhance your qualifications, not detract from them.

While a creative touch can make your resume memorable, it's crucial to strike a balance. Ensure that your design choices align with what is expected in your industry.

While a visually appealing resume is essential, readability should be the top priority. Choose fonts and formatting that maintain a professional look while enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal of your resume.

Leave out personal details

kerkezz/Adobe african female manager interviewing female candidate

While providing extensive personal information is unnecessary, adding a touch of personality — such as detailing relevant hobbies or interests — can humanize your application.

Strategically incorporating personal details can help you stand out in a positive way. Including a brief section on personal interests provides a glimpse into your personality, making you more memorable.

It also might foster potential connection points with the hiring manager, establishing rapport beyond your professional qualifications.

Bottom line

Drobot Dean/Adobe happy asian female candidate greeting recruiter

As you fine-tune your resume, question the myths that might hinder your job search.

Reflect on your unique strengths, experiences, and aspirations. Embrace your individuality, and let your resume become a true reflection of the skilled professional that you are.

Crafting the right resume can result in landing a job that boosts your career and helps you build wealth as you climb the ladder of success.

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Author Details

Adam Palasciano Adam Palasciano is a personal finance-obsessed and money-savvy individual who loves to hash out content on all things saving money. He specializes in writing millennial-friendly personal finance content, covering topics ranging from trending financial news, debt, credit cards, cryptocurrency, and more.

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