Our last post on October 29, 2022 discussed four resume rules you should either follow or ignore. There are an endless litany of “rules” in books and on the Internet. Some make sense and some don’t.
Over the years, well-meaning and knowledgeable employment specialists have told me that unless jobseekers do things their way, they won’t get interviews or jobs. Fortunately, this isn’t true. There are best practices for resume writing, LinkedIn profile writing, and job search in general. Hard-and-fast rules do not exist.
Many factors impact whether or not you land a great job. A great resume and profile will improve your chances although it won’t guarantee results.
While we cannot guarantee you will land the job of your dreams, we can suggest the “rules” to follow—or ignore—that could improve your opportunity for success in the market. The questions we cover below include:
- Should your resume be one page long?
- Is a pandemic “gap year” on your resume okay?
- Should your resume and profile mirror each other?
All three issues have come to the fore as disruptive technologies such as ATS have changed job search and talent acquisition.
Should your resume be one page long?
The one-page business resume, seemed to be an accepted standard when I finished college in 1979. When I was asked to review resumes for an MBA program in 2009, the career office still insisted on one-page documents for their on-campus recruiting resume book.
Today, the world has changed. Clients continue to ask me whether their resume must be one page although the concept is largely outdated. There are several reasons to discard the one-page resume idea. First, employers scan resumes electronically, and then read them on screens, at least during the initial review. It can also be very difficult to include all relevant information on one page unless you are at entry level or have just a few years of experience. A two page presentation with a 10 point or larger font size, one inch margins, and lots of white space is easier to read on a printed page and on a screen.
Clients with senior-level technical and leadership experience have asked about three-page or four-page resumes. Most of the time, their story can be told in two pages, I have found. Additional details can be moved to the LinkedIn profile where a hiring manager can choose to click “read more” or open media links. Once again, this is a matter of professional judgement. Your resume can be more than two pages long if you have enough meaningful content that grabs the reader’s attention.
You should include your name and contact information in an MS-Word header on the second and any subsequent resume pages. This will help keep the document together if a hiring manager or other staff member prints it. Place your name and contact information in the text body on page one so ATS software will see it. (ATS systems do not read headers)
Jobseekers with significant work experience need not adhere to the “one page rule” for resumes today.
Is a pandemic “gap year” on your resume okay?
An issue that has surfaced in the last two years is that of the “pandemic gap.” It’s tempting to leave the year (or two) blank because “everyone knows” people who were not essential workers frequently lost jobs during COVID lockdowns.
Jobseekers should not assume hiring managers will associate the gap on their resume with the pandemic. Hiring team members may not be aware that your job was not considered essential. Other hiring managers may forget or not care. And five years from now, hiring team will be even less likely to recall that many workers were impacted by pandemic shutdowns.
The solution is to fill the gap with whatever business, industry, or training activity you did during the pandemic. For example, if you did freelance, gig work, or volunteer work while you were furloughed from your full-time job, you can include this experience. It’s a strategy career coaches and resume writers have used for years when working with clients that were downsized during recessions and company failures. A previous post covered this strategy in more detail.
Employment gaps of six months or more can cause your resume and LinkedIn profile to fall out of searches hiring teams conduct for jobs that would be great matches for you. This is one rule I recommend following.
Should your resume and LinkedIn profile mirror each other?
LinkedIn is a game-changer for both jobseekers and hiring teams. That’s because the LinkedIn profile is not just an electronic version of your resume—the “About” section alone has enough space for more information than a typical business resume. And the profile can link to multimedia.
So pasting your resume content into LinkedIn’s dialogue boxes to create an electronic version of your resume is another outdated concept. LinkedIn is a social media platform, not a collection of online resumes, so treat it as such. Build a robust, conversational, profile, add periodic posts, and consider contributing a LinkedIn newsletter or even conducting a “LinkedIn Live” webinar.
You are not taking full advantage of LinkedIn’s poser if your resume and LinkedIn content mirror each other word-for-word. My concluding suggestion for you, as a jobseeker, is not to be obsessed with the myriad resume rules you have learned over the years. Apply your best judgement. When in doubt, ask an expert such as a career coach or resume writer.