You know the rules, let’s discuss the exceptions. Resume standards are based on what has proven to be effective in the job market over recent years. However, there are exceptions to many of the resume rules. The following are the top five resume rules with exceptions.
Omit articles on resumes.
It is common to omit articles (a, an, the) on resumes to facilitate a quick read. However, there are times when the article is needed for the sentence to be clear. The trick is to determine when the article is necessary for the clarity of the point you are making or if you are simply accustomed to including the article. An example, when it is necessary, would be if the article is part of a company name, team name, product, or publication title. Another example is: “Sold products to middle market companies in New York, Kansas City, St. Louis, and the Southeast.” Without “the”, the line would not be clear because Southeast is a region mixed in a list of cities.
Don’t include an objective statement.
It is standard practice to omit objective statements and opt for a profile statement that extols the top ways the candidate meets the needs of the hiring employer. Because objectives focus on the needs of the candidate (and not the employer), objective statements are considered outmoded. The only exception is specific situations in which a recruiter or hiring employer instructs the candidate to list the target position name at the top of the resume.
Keep your resume short.
In general, the advice is to create a resume that shares a candidate’s relevant history as succinctly as possible. For most candidates, that is a two-page resume covering ten to fifteen years of work history. There are two general exceptions to this rule. The first is when a hiring employer asks the candidate to show their entire work history. The other exception is for scientific or academic CVs in which the norm is for candidates to show extensive lists of patents, publications, research, posters, and presentations. Some academic or scientific CVs are ten or more pages in length.
Never include hobbies on a resume.
This is a rule not often broken. The exceptions are if the hobbies or personal achievements support the candidate’s career, such as a life-long bowler with numerous championships applying for a position within the bowling industry. The other exception is if the personal achievement or hobby is exceptional and supports your brand, such as a three-time marathon finisher, former NBA player, or the winner of a prestigious art contest or something similar. An interesting hobby can be an icebreaker, but you will need to choose wisely.
The bottom line is that although standards are important and apply to the majority of situations, there are times when it is appropriate to break the rules. Did you see any rules above that you should break to support your job search? Remember that every job search is unique. If you are unsure about the resume strategy that is right for you, contact me. I would be happy to help you.
Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.