What should job applicants include on their resumes in order to satisfy the needs of recruiters? This has been a much debated question, usually not settled by any standards or best practices.
A recent survey of more than 150 recruiters nationwide conducted by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., asked recruiters how much experience a candidate should include on their resume. Th
e survey revealed that the majority want to see a candidate’s entire professional experience.
This finding casts doubt on some “common wisdom” that employers are only interested in an applicant’s most recent work experience. In fact, the large majority, two-thirds of those surveyed, said job seekers should include all work history. Some recruiters indicated that missing information raises the question that the job seeker may be attempting to hide something.
Another 25 percent felt that up to 20 years of job history should be included, while 9.4 percent said up to 10 years.
So what's the best length for a resume?
According to recruiters, including the full work history may take more than the traditionally expected one-page resume. On the matter of resume length, respondents indicated that most application tracking systems utilize keywords, thus making length a non-issue. Actually, none of the respondents to the Challenger survey said that a resume should be limited to one page, completely shattering the myth.
However, while resume length may be less of an issue in today’s technology-aided recruiting environment, more than two-thirds still felt that most people’s experience could be summed up in two pages.
Still, only 18 percent said the resume should be as long as necessary to list all the candidate’s accomplishments.
“Above all, job seekers need to include work history relevant to the jobs for which they are applying. Early or impertinent information should be included, but can be brief. The main reason to include all work history is that hiring authorities want to see a clear timeline of your professional experience,” offered John A. Challenger, Chief Executive Officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, and job search expert.
The Question of Including Prior Salary Information
Recruiters were divided on whether to include previous salary figures on resumes. Just over 50 percent felt it was always useful when matching candidates to positions. Another 9.1 percent said including it could price candidates out of positions, and 33.3 percent believed it should never be included.
“Job applications typically ask for previous salary information anyway, so it was surprising to see that many recruiters do not want job seekers to include it on the resume. However, the question of salary will almost always come up in either the initial phone screening or the in-person interview,” commented Challenger.
He added that job seekers should absolutely not lie about their previous salaries, and suggested that they can give a range of what is acceptable to them, based on market research from sites like Payscale.com, Salary.com, or Glassdoor.com. Applicants should take the time to research what their job positions are worth for their region and industry.
What about Linkedin? Seventy-five percent of respondents said candidates should include their LinkedIn URLs on their resumes. Of the remainder who felt it they were unnecessary, one recruiter stated that they do not have time to read through them, and therefore, it would serve no purpose to include it.