Updated: Mar 24
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 any rulebooks - only best practices.
A lot of people have the misconception that they MUST write their resume a certain way, such as:
Including a summary section,
Sticking to a certain page length, or
Always listing education first.
This type of resume writing advice 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:
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.
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For someone with 17 years with one company, largely performing the same role? A one page resume would likely be suitable.
Two takeaway messages:
#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.
#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.
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About the Author
James Cooper is a Professional Resume Writer, member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) 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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