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're all job seekers. But if you lost your job tomorrow, how prepared would you be to write your 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 job-search knowledge with these seven quick questions.
JOB SEARCH QUESTION #1:
True or False: A resume should always be one page long.
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 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. The end.
If you do NOT fall into one of the categories mentioned above, you're entitled to two full pages of resume real estate. 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.
Related: How Long Should Your Resume Be?
JOB SEARCH QUESTION #2:
Which of these words is NOT an action verb?
Action verbs are exactly what they sound like. They are words that describe an action. When chosen carefully, they can be 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 action verbs that will catch employers' eyes.
JOB SEARCH QUESTION #3:
What does ATS stand for?
ANSWER: APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEM
Many organizations use software known as an applicant tracking system — or ATS, for short — to pre-screen resume applications 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 upon it.
If your resume contains the same keywords that routinely pop up in your target job description, you have a much better chance at getting past the employer's ATS. Click on the following link for a step-by-step plan to customize your resume for a job listing using the right resume keywords.
JOB SEARCH QUESTION #4:
How long does the average recruiter spend reviewing a resume?
1. 90 seconds
2. 60 seconds
3. 16 seconds
4. 6 seconds
ANSWER: 6 SECONDS
Yes, you read that correctly. According to an eye-tracking study by job board Ladders, the average recruiter spends a mere six seconds scanning a resume before deciding if the candidate could be a good fit for the position. In other words, you have six seconds to make the right impression with employers.
JOB SEARCH QUESTION #5:
76% of resumes are discarded because of this mistake.
1. Typos and grammatical errors.
2. Including a headshot.
3. Using an unprofessional email address.
ANSWER: USING AN UNPROFESSIONAL EMAIL ADDRESS
While all of these common resume mistakes could cause your job application to end up in the digital trash pile, an unprofessional email address will do the trick 76 percent of the time. (A headshot is worse, with an 88 percent rejection rate!)
The email address firstname.lastname@example.org may have been funny when you were in college, but it's not the best choice to represent your personal brand in the workforce today. The same goes for shared family accounts such as email@example.com and email addresses that are offensive or sexual in nature.
Do yourself a favor and sign up for a free address with a provider like Gmail that's reserved exclusively for your job-search and networking activities.
JOB SEARCH QUESTION #6:
True or False: Your resume should include an objective statement.
The problem with most resume objective statements is that they don't do a great job at 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 [___] 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 on the following links for more job search tips on how to write an effective resume professional summary.
JOB SEARCH QUESTION #7:
Which one of these items should you include on your resume?
1. Core Competencies
3. Street Address
ANSWER: CORE COMPETENCIES
Don't waste your limited resume space by listing your references or including a note like “References available upon request” at the bottom of your resume. Employers won't request that information until you make it to a face-to-face 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 applicant tracking system.
Click on the following link to learn more about incorporating relevant resume keywords into your core competency section.
So, how'd you do? If most of these questions seemed like they were written in a foreign language, don't panic. The average professional isn't aware of these standard resume rules. In fact, there's no reason you 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.
Leave it to us. Learn more about TopResume's resume-writing packages.
- 11 Steps to Writing the Perfect Resume
- Free Guide: How to Jumpstart Your Job Search
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