Applying for a job can be frightening and intimidating, but especially when you begin to create your resume. There is so much information out there about what you should or shouldn’t include in your resume that it can quickly become disheartening. No matter if you are an experienced professional switching careers or a recent graduate breaking into the market for the first time, it is difficult to know what potential employers want to see in a resume.

Like it or not, your resume is often your key to obtaining that coveted interview, hence the pressure placed upon creating the so-called “perfect” document. Unfortunately, some of the information out there about what employers don’t want to see in a resume can be somewhat misleading. Here are some myths and truths about what employers want from a resume.

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Myth: Tailored resumes are necessary for job applications

The prevailing myth is that resumes must be tailored to the specific position to which you apply; however, that isn’t always the case. For some particular job positions, it may indeed serve you best to craft your work history and experience to the responsibilities described in the job advertisement.

But in many cases, prospective employers are looking for a resume that tells the story of the candidate’s career and experience. Steer clear of overly generic resumes and don't be afraid to add some appropriate creativity to the mix.Nearly half of all employers will look at a resume even if it isn’t tailored to the available position, so don’t feel trapped into writing a specific resume that doesn’t highlight your key skills and abilities.

Myth: Keywords are overrated in resumes

Keywords in resumes may be the new buzzword, but there is some truth to their importance. Often, there are multiple candidates for a position, and employers don’t have the luxury of reading through every resume in their inbox. To save time, many employers use automated applicant tracking systems to scan resumes for specific keywords, short phrases or words that relate to the job’s duties and responsibilities.

Therefore, keywords in your resume can get your application a first look, and the lack thereof may eliminate your resume from contention. How do you find the right keywords to use? Follow these steps:
  • Review postings that are similar to the job you want to apply for. Look at the keywords in these job postings, particularly those listed under “responsibilities” and “qualifications.” Incorporate those keywords into your resume.
  • Look at the company’s website and locate keywords that the company uses as part of its mission or as a means to describe itself or its services. Examine the job posting or the company’s “About Us” page and use the language as keywords in your application.
  • Use keywords that are closely related to the position you are applying for as those terms are likely to be picked up by the resume scanning software.

Due to a competitive job market and the sheer volume of applications for one position, many employers do use keyword scanning systems. Therefore, don’t dismiss the importance of the right keywords in your resume.

Myth: Employers are only concerned with your job experience

While your job experience is clearly of import to a prospective employer, it’s not the only experience they want to see. Your relevant educational background is just as critical, especially if you are a recent graduate. Include the schoolwork, qualifications, and degrees that you have earned as long as they are related to the specific position you are interested in.

In most cases, you don’t need to list the entire curriculum of your higher educational career. Summarize your relevant coursework in regards to skills and projects. Including applicable educational accomplishments in your resume works to your benefit in myriad ways. According to the International Career Institute, your educational experience and subsequent qualifications increase your job and networking opportunities, as well as lead to greater earning power in the future. Be sure to add your educational experience to your resume as it can benefit you in the long run.

Myth: Employers prefer longer resumes

Don’t mistake a resume for a curriculum vitae, or “CV.” The resume is a short form application whereas a CV is a lengthier form designed for positions involving research, science, or academia. Your situation should determine your resume length.

For example, entry-level candidates, job seekers with little experience, recent college graduates or people who are switching careers can rely on a one-page resume. Two-page resumes are more appropriate for workers who are further along in their careers, particularly those applicants who have ten or more years of experience in a field. The second page may be necessary to include any vital information the employer needs to know.

Know what employers want in a resume

Give yourself the best shot at getting called in for an interview by crafting a resume with the information potential employers want. Don’t fall for resume hype. Know what employers are looking for and put your best resume forward.