Resume Writing Misconceptions - The Imaginary Rulebook

As someone that has been heavily involved in the industry, both from a hiring and coaching standpoint, I’d like to set the record straight - there aren’t a rulebooks - only best practices.

Folks here (and elsewhere) harbour the misconception that they MUST write their resume a certain way, such as:

  • Including (or not) a summary/profile section, or

  • Sticking to (or exceeded) a certain page length

This simply isn’t true. There isn’t one way to write a resume because every individual presents a unique mix of skills, accomplishments, experiences, interests, and objectives. Consider the examples below:

Example #1

For someone with six years of experience, the common guidance would be not to exceed a one page resume. But what if this person held three or four jobs, each with valuable experiences or an extensive list of achievements to add? A two page resume would be perfectly warranted in this case.

Example #2

For someone with 17 years with one company, largely performing the same role? A one page resume would likely be suitable.

There are two key messages that I hope you take away from this:

Number #1 Don’t lock yourself in a box because of some “rules” you once read somewhere

Your background is unique - it’s okay if your resume is too. Don’t conform to preconceived notions without first applying some critical thinking to your situation. If you need an extra page to get all of your points across, then do it.

Number #2 Cater to the requirements of your audience - the employer

This should serve as your guiding principle. Consider your reader, what they’re looking for, and try to picture yourself in their shoes when reviewing your resume.


About the Author

James Cooper is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and has been in the recruiting, career coaching, and writing business for almost 14 years. He began his career recruiting for AECOM, a Canadian engineering firm, and he's gone on to work with and help professionals land roles at top Fortune 500 companies.

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