3 Assumptions You Should Never Make About Your Resume

check-your-assumptionsJob seekers make assumptions about many aspects of their job search. In the long run, many of those assumptions are wrong… and can mean a much longer job search.

True: even a fabulous resume isn’t guaranteed to land you a job; but a poorly done resume will cost you opportunities.

These are the three worst assumptions I see job seekers make about their resumes, and what you may be able to do instead…

1.  Your Resume Will Be Seen

These days many employers use software, known as applicant tracking systems (ATS), to store resumes and job applications.  Then, to find the resumes of qualified applicants, recruiters search through the ATS, using keywords appropriate to the job they are filling.

Consequently, if your resume does not contain the keywords used by the person doing the search, it won’t be found or seen.  This is why having only one version of your resume handicaps your job search because it may not contain the keywords appropriate for the job you are seeking.

How to overcome:

Analyze the job posting or job description to see the keywords that are used, particularly in the requirements.   For example:

Assume that the job description requires “familiarity with office computer software, specifically Word and Excel.”  (Keywords bolded.)

Let’s also assume you are very comfortable using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the main components of Microsoft Office, so your resume mentions only Microsoft Office. Then, your resume would not be found in a search for Word and Excel.

The best approach would be to cover all the options, like this “Skilled in the use of Microsoft Office (WordExcel, and PowerPoint)…”  (Required keywords bolded.)

This also ensures that your resume will be included in searches on “Microsoft Office” and any of the components.


Paying close attention to including the correct keywords for both you and the job’s requirements will have a big payback.

2.  Your Resume Will be Carefully Read

Studies show that  when resumes are finally seen by a human being, they are initially scanned (not read!) for from 6 to 15 seconds.  That is most decidedly not a careful reading! It is a very quick look at the top half of the first page of your resume in most cases.

How to overcome

ALWAYS customize the top of your resume to focus on the requirements of the job you are applying for:

  • Make it clear the job you are applying for by putting the job title, as listed on the job description, as the “Objective” below your contact information.
  • Add a “Summary of Qualifications” section just below the “Objective” and call out the experience and education you have that corresponds to the job’s requirements.  For example, if the job requires 3 years of experience working as a bank teller and you have 4 years, one of the bullet points in your Summary should clearly state “4 years of experience as a bank teller at …”

This kind of customization will provide the keywords that the automated systems need and make it quickly visible to the human looking at your resume that you meet the requirements of the job.

3.  Your Resume Is the Only Factor in the Hiring Decision

Resumes don’t get people hired.  With luck, a well-targeted resume (see # 1 and # 2, above) will help you get invited in to interview for the job – the next step in the multi-step process of being hired.

In the days of search engines and social media, believing that the resume is the only thing employers consider is deadly.  Over 80% of employers Google job seekers before inviting them into an interview.  The bad news is that you may have led a completely blameless life but have your opportunities torpedoed by a bad guy or gal who has the same name you do.

How to overcome:

Practice “defensive Googling” – Google your name to see what a potential employer will find when they do the same thing.  If there is bad stuff, you can work to get it reduced (read Why Submitting a Resume Isn’t Enough and What You Can Do About It for help).

Let the other guys make these assumptions about their resumes. You… well, you’re smarter than that.


For this post, YouTern would like to thank our friends at WorkCoachCafe.




Susan-P-Joyce-AuthorAbout the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .



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