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So Many Conflicting Opinions About Resumes; How Do I Know Which is True?

If you research how to create a resume online, you are likely to find conflicting answers. Some will say your resume should always be 1 page. Others will say it depends on the amount of experience you have. Some will claim an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is just a filing cabinet. Others will state that the ATS might reject your resume before the hiring manager sees it. You might see resumes with a photo in one link whereas the next link indicates you should never include a photo. As a job seeker, how do you know which information is correct?


How Recent is the Information?

Unfortunately, content is frequently posted to the web, but not as frequently removed. If you are looking at an article from 2010, you might be reading outdated information. Before believing the information you read, check to see how old it is. We recommend disregarding anything that wasn't written in the last few years, as it may not reflect current industry standards.


What is the Source?

Everyone seems to think they are an expert these days. Your friend might have gotten a job with his resume that is 6 pages long and includes a detailed list of his hobbies and a picture of his dog. That doesn't mean that all job applicants should provide a similar resume, however. What he provided for that one position might cause rejection at hundreds of other openings. Listen to hiring managers, recruiters and resume writers. These professionals will have an understanding of current expectations. They will have a view of the bigger picture, not just one individual sample.


We regularly talk to recruiters and hiring managers so we can keep abreast of the latest industry standards. Two blogs that provide information we have learned from these conversations include: "What are Recruiters Looking for in a Resume?," and "Feedback from Human Resources: Best Practices to Stand Out as a Job Candidate."


What if Reliable Sources Disagree?

Unfortunately, this does happen. We have read articles indicating the ATS is just a filing cabinet. And, we have read other articles where the author says they use the ATS to reduce the stack of submissions to a reasonable number. We have heard from hiring managers that say a cover letter is a must. Yet, others have told us they rarely read the cover letters submitted. How does a job seeker handle these conflicting opinions?


Let's look at a couple of specific examples.


Applicant Tracking System


Computer program

When you submit a resume for a position, you don't know if they will be using an Applicant Tracking System at all. And if they do use one, you don't know what capacity it will be used in.


Let's say you assume one won't be used and therefore you don't incorporate keywords in the document you submit. If an ATS isn't being used, you are OK. However, if one is used -- and you assumed incorrectly -- your resume may be rejected.


Now, envision the alternate scenario. You assume the ATS is used, and optimize your resume with keywords from the job description that match your skills and experiences. If an ATS is used, your resume gets past the ATS and into the hiring manager's hands. If an ATS isn't used, your resume still gets into the hiring managers hands. Since you have written it both for the ATS and the hiring manager, you can feel confident that your resume will impress.


Prepare for the worst-case scenario, and provide a resume that is ideal for both the ATS and a human being.


Cover Letter

Some hiring managers indicate they will reject a job application that doesn't include a cover letter. Others state that they don't typically read the cover letter, making job seekers think writing one is a waste of time.


Again, look at both cases, because you don't know if the person receiving your job application believes in the former or latter view. Should you select to provide a cover letter and the hiring manager doesn't read them, you will be fine. However, if the hiring manager happens to be one that thinks a cover letter is mandatory, you may miss out on an opportunity to interview.


Prepare for the worst-case scenario, and provide a cover letter with every job application.


Finding trustworthy information can be difficult when conducting a web search. If you want to feel confident your resume meets industry standards, consider resume creation or resume critique by Revision Resume. Contact us to learn how we can assist you, whether you live in the Rochester area or elsewhere!



Related Reading:

Do I Really Need a Cover Letter?

How to Write a Professional Resume

What is this Applicant Tracking System I Keep Hearing About?


Seeking details on how to create a quality resume? Click here.



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