If you haven’t been in the job search game in a while, or aren’t a hiring manager regularly reviewing resumes, you may not have a good sense if your resume is up-to-date and competitive with the other resumes out there. For more experienced and older workers, having a resume that appears “dated” or as if it is from an older worker can actually be a reason that someone may not be taken too seriously among the competition.
As a Certified Professional Resume Writer with 25+ years’ experience reading resumes, I’m sharing the Top 10 signs that tell me the resume may not compare well with others and how to change them!
First, let’s start at the top of the page:
1. It lists your street address. Any company you apply for these days is going to be online or sharing your resume electronically. No one is going to snail mail you anything in response. In addition, you don’t need to provide any information not critical to your candidacy that might be used against you. Your home address might tell someone about your neighborhood, how much you paid for your home (“Oh, he paid THAT much? We can lowball that offer”) or make an assumption that if you’re in an apartment, maybe that means you’re less “stable” a candidate.
Instead: Just list your city and state. They *do* want to know if you’re going to be a relocation or if you may potentially have a commute that would be a problem for you and for them.
2. Your email address is an AOL address. An AOL address as a primary contact often gives the impression that a candidate is older and not “with the times.”
Instead: Sign up for a free, professional-sounding Gmail address. (PS – while you’re up there, add a hyperlink to your LinkedIn page)
3. Your resume starts with “Objective”. This doesn’t help you for two reasons, in addition to just not being a modern resume feature. First, leading with an objective expresses what you want, not what you’re offering. Second, the language in the objective is usually some buzzwords that aren’t specific to your talents and skills. If it mentions “hard worker” or “team player who wants to make a contribution”, a resume reader may deduce you’re a good citizen, but does not know how you’ll make the organization a better one.
Instead: Contemporary resumes will have a summary of qualifications or a brand statement, introducing the reader to who this person is, what they’ve done, and what can be expected they WILL do for their next employer.
Now, let’s talk about the body:
4. It goes into deep detail on the roles you had more than 10-15 years ago. I talk about this with my clients all the time: Your resume is a marketing document, not a professional alibi. Your next employer cares most about the recent and relevant experience you’ve had that will be leveraged in your next role. Yes, your full work experience is something you’re probably very proud of, but if you’re not sure when you’re reading some work experience on your current resume what your next employer would get out of it, and why they’d care, it may just be a poor use of your real estate.
Instead: Focus on the past 10, maybe 15 if very relevant, years. For older roles, you can employers and list job titles, but don’t even need to list all of them. (Again – it’s not a professional alibi!)
5. It lists the basics of what your job responsibilities have been. A list of job responsibilities or descriptors of what someone with that job title would typically do isn’t going to highlight why you’re GREAT at it!
Instead: focus on key accomplishments and impacts you’ve made in the past 10-15 years and illustrate how those challenges and victories are relevant to your next role.
6. It lists that you’re proficient in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. It used to be that this might have been a differentiator in the workplace, but now, it’s a bit more like having a driver’s license. An exception might be if the jobs you’re going after would regularly require top expertise (robust financial models and dynamic graphing, cutting edge presentations with graphics and animations, etc.), and you’d want to share your deep experience and impact with this software and skills.
Instead: Unless it’s a real differentiator in the marketplace or you have expert-level skills and the job requires it, leave off the Microsoft or Google suite of products as tech skills.
7. It offers that your references are available upon request. This is assumed that you’d offer some references if they were requested. Unless a job posting specifically asks you to share references, you don’t need to address this in your resume.
Instead: leave off any mention of references.
Finally, how about some look and feel:
8. It is too long. This kind of goes in relationship numbers 4 and 5 above. What goes into your resume need to be *valuable* use of your real estate. When you’re wasting space AND it ends up being too long, you risk someone not spending time going through the detail you share. (Heck, we’re already hoping they spend time reading more than just the top half of the page and then flipping to see where you went to college.) For most people with 10+ years of experience, they may have a 2-page resume. But don’t just assume that 25-30 years means you should be on 3 pages. Remember, your next employer cares about what you can do TODAY, not what someone else gave you a shot at in 1995.
Instead: If you can make it work with 1 page, fantastic. Otherwise, do your best to keep it to 2, focusing on making sure everything included totally matters to your next employer.
9. There is a LOT of white space. Back in the day, we’d leave white space for people to write notes, right? Honestly, there is a good chance your resume never gets printed out and is only viewed on a computer screen or even just a tablet or phone. In addition, a lot of white space may come across like a college student making the margins really wide in order to get to the page length on a term paper; it gives the impression you’re trying to make your resume appear longer than it needs to be.
Instead: Use reasonable margins, and don’t try to create white space for white space’s sake.
10. It is in a font like Times New Roman (or, gulp, Courier). Reading a resume with a dated font is like walking into a house with an avocado green kitchen.
Instead: Choose a font that is less complex, easier on the eyes. Some good fonts to consider (in alphabetical order, not preference)
- Gill Sans
And: Keep the body in a 10-12 point size (though some of these fonts skew a little larger than their peers even at a smaller number). Don’t feel the need to go much larger; remember, most people will be viewing your resume online; if they can’t read it, they’ll zoom in. For instance, all of these fonts are the same number in point sizes.
Don’t be afraid to make these changes and get a resume makeover today.
If *your* resume feels like it checks a few of these boxes, don’t despair! Many of these changes go a long way to improve your resume and make sure you’re putting your best foot forward!
Updating your resume can be intimidating, but you don’t have to do it alone! Contact me today for a free consultation and learn more about how I can help.