When it comes to resumes, many job seekers seem to think all they need is a cover letter to fill in those pesky work gaps and mention those in-demand soft skills. Unfortunately, that mindset means your resume ends up on the rejection heap – and that you stay unemployed.
“There are quite a few mistakes with resumes, including the cover letter legend,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director with Robert Half. “The resume myths sometimes outweigh the facts.”
From thinking your resume alone will get you the job to sending a cover letter as a band-aid, here’s a look at seven resume myths recruiters and career experts see far too often:
Myth No. 1: A Good Resume is Good Enough
A popular misconception among job seekers is that the resume is what gets you the job, when the truth is its how you do on the interview, says McDonald. “The resume should be your introduction, and should outline your accomplishments… it is in the interview you expand on those points and show how they fit within the organization,” he says.
Myth No. 2: Cover Letters Still Matter
Ask pretty much anyone over the age of 40; most will say you still need to send a cover letter when applying for a job. The reality is, though, that today the body of your email acts as the cover letter, says David Boggs, practice leader at WK Advisors, a division of executive search firm Witt/Kieffer.
“Not only is there no need for a separate cover letter, you may actually be confusing potential employers with too many documents,” says Boggs. He says when applying for a position or reaching out to a recruiter make sure your email is tailored for the specific person or company. “After all, blasting off a generic email isn’t going to help your prospects.”
Myth 3: A Generic Resume is Good Enough
Many job seekers will boast about sending out thirty resume in one day, but then end up wondering why they got zero calls.
The reason: in most cases is job seekers are using the same resume for multiple job opportunities, which Joel Garfinkle, author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level, says is a big no-no: “The more you customize your resume to the opportunity, the greater you stand out compared to your competition.”
Myth 4: Employment Gaps Means Unemployable
The economic downturn of a few years ago resulted in many unemployed people who, after a couple of years of not working, have to deal with gaps in their work history. While the first inclination is try to explain away the gaps, McDonald says it’s better to save that for your initial email or during the interview.
“Don’t put in your resume for an 18 month gap that you traveled abroad, sought employment and suffered the downturn,” he says. “Fill in the gaps when you are in front of the individual.”
Myth 5: You Should Shotgun Your Resume
You may think the shotgun approach is the best way to find a job, but focusing on a few companies and/or jobs is a much better way to go about it, says Boggs. “Take the vision of what you ideally want to be doing and identify the 5-10 companies that you’re seriously interested in,” he says. “Then pursue them like it’s your job.”
Myth No. 6: Resumes Must Include Every Day of Work History
Hiring managers and recruiters have short attention spans – and have no desire to read a multiple page resume that includes every job the person ever had. Instead, Garfinkle says less is more: “Your entire resume should be only the information that is relevant for the position. If it’s not relevant remove it.” Job seekers may think their entire job history will get them the job, but hiring managers are only having them in based on the information in the resume that pertains to the current job opening, he says.
Myth No. 7: Social Media is Only Way to Network with Recruiters
Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook have made it much easier to reach people around the world. But when it comes to networking to get a job, nothing replaces face-to-face meetings, says Boggs. He says job seekers should take advantage of professional associations and other networking events that will put them in front of people that can help them get a job.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ignore social media. In fact, Boggs says you need to be on more than LinkedIn if you want to get noticed by recruiters. “Know that recruiters are looking at all social platforms to get a sense of your skills – not just LinkedIn,” he says. “Make sure you’re posting industry trends and interesting stories relating to your area of expertise to Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram.”
How are these resume myths holding back your job search? More important: what will you start to do differently?
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About the Author: Donna Fuscaldo is a freelance journalist who writes for numerous online publications including FoxBusiness.com, Bankrate.com, AARP.com, Insurance.com and Houselogic.com. As a personal finance reporter, Donna provides invaluable advice on everything from saving money to landing a dream job. She also writes a weekly column for FoxBusiness.com focused on technology for small businesses. Previously, Donna was an equities reporter for Dow Jones Newswires and a special contributor to the Wall Street Journal. Through the Glassdoor Blog, Donna provides tips on how to find a job and, more importantly, to keep it. Follow Donna on Twitter!