Debunking Resume Myths: 5 Key Insights for Job Seekers

Kyla Hensley

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about resumes. If you’re starting a new job search, it can feel overwhelming to update or create your resume. Where do I begin? How long should it be? What information do I need to include? These are common questions about resumes for job seekers. I’m here to debunk some of those myths so you can better understand what a resume should be. Let’s tackle one of the most common myths right out of the gate.

1.) Length

Myth: Private sector resumes should only be one page. 

Fact: A private sector resume should be one to two pages based on your work history and relevant experience. 

The days of having to condense all of your experience onto one page are over. One-page resumes are typical for new graduates or those with a few years of experience. Once you start to gain more industry experience, skills, and education, it is typical for your resume to reach two pages. The focus of a resume should be your background and the relevant skills you could bring to the role, not the exact length. 

2.) It’s My Autobiography

Myth: I need to include everything about my background and experience on my resume. 

Fact: Employers are generally only looking for your last 10 years of experience. 

This is a big deal. I’ll add a caveat: if you held a position 10+ years ago, that will demonstrate you directly meet a qualification the job description is asking for or the job requires more than 10 years of experience, include it. Otherwise, streamline your resume with only your most recent experience. Your resume needs to be easy to review and simple to skim within a few seconds. An employer shouldn’t have to search hard for the information they need to determine if you’re a qualified candidate, so don’t bury this information in unnecessary details. Gaps in your employment history in the past 10 years? Check out this resource on addressing career changes and gaps. 

3.) One Size Fits All 

 Myth: I can use one resume for all of my job applications. 

Fact: You must tailor your resume for every opportunity. 

Even when you are focusing on the last 10 years, your resume needs to hone in on what is relevant for that particular job. That’s why it is essential to tailor your resume for each position you apply to. I know this can sound daunting, but focus on submitting a few high-quality applications per week as opposed to 50 generic ones. Resume tailoring is important because it highlights your skills and qualifications that match the responsibilities in a job description and shows the hiring manager that you are a great fit to move forward with an interview. 

4.) References Available Upon Request

Myth: I need to let them know I can provide references. 

Fact: If they need references, they will ask.

Plain and simple, this one doesn’t need to take up space on your resume. Every section on your resume is valuable real estate, so you do not need to fill it with something the employer already knows. If they’re interested, companies will either include the ask in the job posting or request references during the interview process. References should be listed in an organized manner on a separate document.

5.) Cover Letters Are Unnecessary

Myth: I don’t need to submit a cover letter because all of the information is on my resume.

Fact: Cover letters include key details about your qualifications for a role that are not listed on your resume. 

Cover letters are a chance to include information about why you are a good fit for a role that might not necessarily have a place on your resume. Why are you passionate about the role, company, or industry? What sort of soft skills make you an excellent candidate for this position? It’s also an opportunity to address any areas of concern an employer may have just based on your resume. This includes gaps in employment, emphasizing essential skills, and even plans for professional development to gain necessary skillsets. Finish telling the full story of why you’re the best applicant. 

There is a lot that goes into making an effective resume and what may be right for one person may not be for someone else. At this point, you may be tempted to turn over the resume writing task to the professionals, and that’s fair, but before you make that investment read, Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services: Is it Worth the Cost? 

Kyla Hensley is the Process & Training Manager at Hire Heroes USA. If you would like more information or need assistance getting in contact with your Transition Specialist, log into your MyTrak or register at to be assigned a Transition Specialist.