Industry experts seem to be calling for the death of the traditional resume in the 21st century. Some clamor that they are inefficient or absolutely useless and should be banned altogether, while others cite Twitter resumes and infographics as the hot new way to convey qualifications.
Realistically, however, the day the resume is gone probably won’t be any time soon. Recruiting practices die hard. Whether or not resumes provide accurate descriptions of qualifications is beside the point – as long as recruiters believe in their abilities to weed out candidates, graduates will have to continue filling them out, even if, afterward, they are subjected to harrowing four-round interviews designed to explore qualifications well beyond what any resume could hope to do. Instead of raging against the system, graduates should take advantage of any resume advice they can get.
Of course, despite the fact that resumes are the status quo, recruiters still cannot settle on the perfect resume format. Should a candidate list his or her hobbies? What about objective statements? It seems that there are a number of rules that are arbitrary or contradictory and yet, at the same time, make-or-break in terms of landing a job.
While it is tempting to skip the process completely, graduates would do better to gain an understanding of some of the gray areas of resume writing, and learn the guiding principles behind conflicting arguments. Here are three of those hotly debated resume issues, as listed by Business Insider, and the simple, common sense lessons graduates can learn from them.
Keep it to a page
This is one of the easier resume issues to resolve: most recruiters seem to agree that a one-page resume is all that a candidate needs. Recruiters read quickly, and anything more than a page is clumsy and difficult to remember.
However, some claim that a longer resume is acceptable so long as an extended list of qualifications is warranted. Additionally, according to Matthew Carbon, a director with Green Key Resources, the complaint against multi-page resumes is somewhat invalid given that many resumes are read on computers and there are not pages to sort through.
Yet, graduates and those seeking entry level positions probably don’t have enough qualifications to warrant more than a page. Also, unless the job is for an executive position, it probably doesn’t require anything more than that.
“You need to show progression or change in job titles and positions,” Carbon told Business Insider. “If you can’t show that, then there’s no reason for a longer resume.”
Free time and the resume
Hobbies can highlight skills that a candidate has developed off the clock, but they can also come across as the mark of an amateur.
Those who argue against listing personal interests have a point in that a long list of activities without careful consideration of their relation to the job can seem childish, a space filler for an unqualified candidate and ultimately a waste of time. Recruiters by and large probably don’t care what soccer medals an applicant won in high school.
On the one hand, hobbies can demonstrate passion related to the field to which someone is applying. Software engineers may want to make a note of clubs or other extracurricular activities that show their interest in computers. Teachers may also need to demonstrate their ability to assist in electives and other extra-curricular activities by listing hobbies and interests. For a teacher looking to demonstrate their ability in assisting in coaching, a history of soccer proficiency may prove useful.
The key is to know when a hobby relates to a field of interest. Even when listing interests, however, applicants should still stick to the one-page rule.
Objective statements tell hiring managers what the applicant wants out of a job. Some recruiters laud them, and a recent Business Insider article cited the addition of an objective statement as one of the key pieces of information that transformed an average resume into a sterling one. Others find them distracting and unnecessary, especially if a cover letter already explains your objectives. Additionally, they may pigeon-hole candidates who have a long list of qualifications that speak for them.
Executive summaries have been espoused as an alternative to the objective statement, wherein candidates state their skills, interests and value to a prospective employer. However, a well-designed resume should already indicate to recruiters what a candidate offers, as well as strengths and interests. What isn’t covered by the resume should be covered in the cover letter.
Minute rules and general principles
Some of these issues seem like niggling details, but there is a simple approach to resume writing that can help clarify on what side one should come down.
First, candidates should do research on the company to which they are applying and consider what may be appropriate given the position and the employer. If it is one where listing hobbies seems absolutely necessary, then list them. Otherwise hold off on unnecessary information. If candidates are unsure they can try to contact people in the field to which they are applying and ask what they included on their resume.
Beyond that, the guiding principles for writing a resume should be efficiency and clarity. Everything from reverse chronological order to bullet points are designed to keep resumes quick and easy to read. If something seems debatable, then it is probably unnecessary.
At Experience.com, our mission is to provide the latest marketplace insights for students, recent college graduates and industry veterans. With expert guidance and breaking news about available premium entry level jobs and paid , your career starts here.