Writing your own resume is one of the most painful experiences you can go through; it feels egotistical, icky, and confusing. It’s hard to be objective about what someone else would find compelling about your experience, and it’s hard to find the common thread in a sea of information you’re just way too close to. That’s why we are going to answer the most common resume questions that people tend to have when trying to write a resume.
A Career Coach’s Resume Perspective
I didn’t set out to be a resume writer, but I quickly found out that it was a necessity in my field in my quest to be a successful career coach. I also repeatedly came across the common struggle listed above and the multitude of resume questions. It became apparent that everyone in all walks of life, careers, and experience levels had never-ending resume questions.
I like giving answers, and so…I became a resume writer in addition to a career coach. To better understand the pain and negative experience many have with crafting their own resume, I sat down to tackle the task one day.
Yes, I attempted to write my own resume.
Even as a professional resume writer, I can confirm that this was a terrible experience for all the reasons listed above and more. The newfound empathy I have for everyone who has never-ending confusion and resume questions was confirmed. And, I’ll never write my own resume again!
Just as there is an infinite list of resume questions, there is a likely longer list of associated answers.
Ask 10 resume writers the same question, and you’ll get 13 opinions.
Yeah, that’s meant to be as ridiculous as it sounds. Those answers to resume questions will also conflict just as much as they violently agree, so candidates out there are left with an overwhelming amount of information to sift through.
Throwing the ongoing stream of advice down the drain and hiring a professional resume writer is the easiest way to eliminate the overwhelm of resume questions answers. It also just so happens that the service is proven to shorten job searches, land you better jobs, and make you more money, but I digress.
What kind of career coach would I be if I didn’t throw my hat into the abyss of the commentary focused on resume questions and answers, so without further ado, I deliver to you a grouping of trendy resume questions I’m asked on a daily. I’ll also debunk a few myths and probably hop on a soap-box or two to prove my point.
Plus, what kind of resume writer would I be without tossing my resume template into the mix, which I’m proud to say has proven itself to be successful with passing some of the hardest automated tracking systems (resume reading software) out there and with getting people interviews. Both are huge wins in the job application world! Additionally, our resume template comes with many other useful job search resources!
13 Resume Questions Answered
Do I need a one-page resume?
NO! This has been beaten into us by our college career counselors, hence why it’s a resume question – when it does make sense to have a one-page resume. As a new grad, we have less experience to talk about, and if you’re older than dirt (cough cough), you also remember job description-Esque resumes, which were much more appropriate for the arbitrary one page “rule.”
Now that we’ve moved into this narrative form and brought keyword parsing into the mix, there’s no way you can stick to a one-page resume and effectively exhibit your experience and accomplishments once you’ve had more than one job.
How long should my resume be?
Your resume should be as long as it needs to convey the story you want to tell. This might be one page; it may be 1.3 pages; it may be 2, which is typically a good general limitation to set. Going beyond two pages, in just about every case, means you’re just wordy, but there are exceptions. Giving yourself more than a single page also allows for breathing room. The same amount of information on 1.25 pages is much easier to digest – white space! – then when it’s crammed into one with 0.00000006 margins.
Should I include my physical address?
Now that we have such a global workforce, including your physical address is considered old school. Don’t date yourself and omit it. If you’re relocating, you can include a line about the move in your profile, address it in your cover letter, or tell them about it when they call you for the screener.
What’s the difference between a summary/professional profile and an objective statement?
Get in my Delorean, and I’ll show you what an objective statement is. You know what I’m talking about: “seeking long-term employment with a stable company where I can grow and use my [insert skills] skills.
Just about any professional on earth could include that in their resume. It doesn’t differentiate you at all, and it’s become antiquated. Instead, paint a picture of who you are – your strengths, soft skills, core expertise – and write an eloquent statement that gives them a glimpse into who they’ll meet when you walk into the interview.
I didn’t finish my degree – what do I do?
Here’s a million-dollar answer to this resume question:
UNIVERSITY NAME (pick the one you studied out most), studied extensively in X (subject you studied most heavily)
If I’m relocating, do I need a local phone number?
If you want to do the Google voice thing, you can, but at this point, none of us has a “local” number. I’ve lived in Colorado for 13 years and still have a Boston area code; I lived there for 6 years…
What do I do if I don’t have metrics to prove/show my accomplishments?
Not all roles come with KPIs and numeric outcomes, but we can all do things that make a difference. While someone in sales can say they increased the value of a portfolio by X dollars, a software engineer may exhibit their capabilities by saying they created a new application from start to finish. There’s no number in that outcome, but it shows the ability to start and finish something to completion – an accomplishment.
How do I handle transferable skills on my resume?
Transferable skills is a buzzy term, but it’s straightforward when you think about it. You have tons of them; most of your strengths, in fact, ARE transferable skills, and using them in your resume as keyword bullets or peppered throughout the experience you want to translate will help leverage them.
How far back should I go? How much job history should I include?
If we go back to #1 and #2, we can find the answer to this resume question. The general guidance is to go back 10 years, which gives you the ability to speak to the most recent (and typically most relevant) positions in more depth without having a novel.
Graphic resumes or not?
I am not a fan. Perhaps it’s the old school engineer left in me, but I’m a fan of black and white resumes. They’re like a great old standby – they’re safe, no one will get irritated at the color you chose, they usually have more room for text and content, and they’re also thought to pass ATS with more reliability.
In short: no one ever gets mad at a well-formatted black and white resume.
The caveat? If you’re an artist or in a more creative career like graphic design, a designed resume can make you stand out and can act as a mini portfolio of itself.
Should I include a headshot on my resume?
This is another resume question that you will get 12 different opinions, where we writers tend to fall into two different camps. I am a hard no on this one. Why give them more relevant stuff to judge?!
ATS: How do I keyword my resume to pass ATS, and is easy on human eyes?
This is by far one of the most frequently asked resume questions. I think of a well-crafted resume as a dance. You have to include enough keywords for the ATS and computer scanners to pass you through with enough frequency while still making sure to appeal to the human eye that will read it on the other side. Too few keywords, and you’ll never see the human; too many keywords, and the human will be so bored they’ll pass. Balance.
Should I edit my resume for every job application? Base versions for each type of job you apply for.
This is a tricky resume question. In essence, yes, but I also think that becomes a time-consuming process where the return on the time investment is questionable. I recommend having a base version for each category of job you’re applying to, i.e., have one for customer success manager positions and another for account executive. This way, you’re 90% there for 90% of jobs and can make a few quick edits to bullets, headlines, and highlights without re-inventing the wheel time and time again.
Resume Questions Conclusion
There’s a reason there are 455,000,000 posts of questions about how to write a resume on the internet, and there’s also a reason hundreds of us have made careers out of answering the many resume questions professionals have – or better yet, taking the problem off your hands.
Writing a great resume is a complex and nuanced effort that considers every one of the 13 above resume question scenarios. The most important thing is to figure out what works for you and do it; there are exceptions to every single rule – even the ones I make.
Be objective about your experience and more objective about your ability to articulate it into a succinct, sensical, keyword-optimized document. Hopefully, these tools will help you do just that!
Put these 13 best practices into action, but remember you can hire a professional resume writer that will make you shine on that blank piece of white paper.