Put your job-search knowledge to the test with our resume quiz.
Whether you're currently on the hunt for a new job or happily employed, when push comes to shove, we've all been job seekers. But if you lost your job tomorrow, how prepared would you be to write your cover letter and resume?
I recently took to the streets of New York's Union Square area to find out just how much the average person knows about writing a professional resume. Check out the video below to watch the results, and test your own job-search knowledge with these seven quick questions.
Don't believe the rumors; you are not expected to squeeze 15+ years of work experience into a one-page resume. This page limit only really applies to those professionals who (1) are searching for an internship; (2) are recent college grads pursuing an entry-level job; or (3) are still relatively new to the workforce. If you fall into one of these categories, you get one page of resume real estate.
If you do not fall into one of the categories mentioned above, you're entitled to two full pages for your resume. There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule, but the majority of experienced professionals should restrict themselves to a two-page resume. This applies whether you've been in the workforce for nine or 19 years.
Additionally, according to one study that involved nearly 500 recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals and nearly 8,000 resumes, recruiters are 2.3 times as likely to prefer two-page resumes over one-page resumes, regardless of a candidate's job level.
If your work history and experience requires two pages, then a two-page resume is right for you.
Action verbs are exactly what they sound like — words that describe an action. When chosen carefully, they are an effective way to illustrate your capabilities and achievements on your resume.
However, not all resume action verbs are created equal, and some have been overused so much that they've lost their impact with recruiters. There are only so many times you can say you “led” a team, “handled” a situation, or “supported” a project before your resume job descriptions sound repetitive and boring.
If you find yourself describing your work experience with the same boring words over and over again, try switching them out for strong, compelling resume action verbs that will catch employers' eyes.
Answer: APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEM
Many organizations use software known as an applicant tracking system — ATS, for short — to pre-screen resumes as they are submitted, rank them based on their contents, and send only the most qualified candidates over to HR for review.
In other words, your resume has to make it past a pretty tough digital gatekeeper before a human at the company ever sets eyes on it.
If your professional resume contains the same keywords as your target job description, your application is in a better position to get past this digital gatekeeper.
Click on this link for a step-by-step plan to customize your resume for a job listing using the right resume keywords.
1. 90 seconds
2. 60 seconds
3. 16 seconds
4. Less than 10 seconds
Answer: LESS THAN 10 SECONDS
Yes, you read that correctly; the average recruiter spends less than 10 seconds scanning a resume before deciding if the candidate could be a good fit for the position. In other words, you have mere seconds to make the right impression on employers.
Does your resume meet all the requirements to pass this test? Use this article to check for yourself.
The problem with most resume objective statements is that they don't do a great job of selling your candidacy to an employer. We've all seen that bland resume objective that tells the reader how you're a “motivated self-starter looking for opportunities in the [___] field that will allow me to leverage my [___] skills.”
Ditch this generic resume objective statement with its fluffy adjectives in favor of a compelling professional summary, also known as a career statement or career summary, that explains the type of position you're targeting and why you're qualified to land such a role.
Click here for more specific job-search tips on how to write an effective resume professional summary.
1. Spelling and grammatical errors
2. Including a headshot
3. Using an unprofessional email address
Answer: SPELLING AND GRAMMATICAL ERRORS
While all of these common resume mistakes could cause your job application to end up in the digital trash pile, spelling and grammatical errors are considered the biggest resume deal-breaker, according to this TopResume survey. About 79 percent of recruiters ranked it the top resume mistake, with missing contact information and an unprofessional email address coming in second and third respectively.
Editing your resume to eliminate spelling and grammatical errors might seem obvious, but according to the info above, these mistakes are still occurring. One way to ensure your resume is typo-free is to get a second set of eyes — whether it's a friend, family member, or resume expert — to read it over again.
You can also try printing your resume out to review or using a free tool like Grammarly to scan your resume for contextual spelling mistakes that spell check won't pick up.
Get more tips on how to proofread your resume.
1. Core Competencies
3. Street Address
Answer: CORE COMPETENCIES
Don't waste limited space by listing references on your resume or including a note like “References available upon request” at the bottom of the page. Potential employers won't need that information until you make it to a face-to-face job interview, and they know you'll provide the information when they ask for it.
Similarly, there's no reason to include a street address on your resume anymore. In addition to wasting space, including your street address on your resume can raise some security concerns (think about all the places you've uploaded your resume). If you're targeting a role close to home, by all means, include your city, state, and zip code — just leave off your street address.
Core competencies, however, are an important component of your professional resume. These terms, also known as areas of expertise or skills highlights, act as relevant keywords to help you summarize your qualifications within the top third portion of your resume and improve your application's ranking within an ATS.
Click on the following link to learn more about incorporating relevant resume keywords into your core competency section.
So, how'd you do? If any of these answers surprised you, don't panic. The average professional isn't aware of these standard resume rules — in fact, there's no reason you should know all this information.
Bottom line: Your job is to know the ins and outs of your profession. Our job at TopResume is to know the ins and outs of resume writing.
So leave it to us. Learn more about TopResume's resume-writing packages.
This article was updated in November 2020 by Danielle Elmers.