9 Things That Make Your Resume Look Too Old

Make sure your resume is fresh and modern. You don’t want to look like a proverbial dinosaur to prospective employers and recruiters. Your resume is a representation of you to a recruiter or prospective employer, so don’t make a first impression that looks old-fashioned and outdated.

Learn the 9 of the biggest red flags that will instantly make your resume appear antiquated:

1. The One Page Rule

Don’t spend countless hours trying to squeeze a decade or two of valuable experience onto a single sheet of paper. The worst thing you can do is try to make the font smaller or eliminate space between lines. If you do, your resume is too hard to read.

The best way to gain extra space is to decrease the margins. Use 1/2 an inch instead of an inch. The good news is that the one-page resume no longer rules, as today’s hiring manager is more likely to be scrolling down on a screen than flipping to the next page.

In fact, for experienced professionals a two-page resume is the most common format. There are obvious exceptions, such as recent graduates and entry-level applicants who can easily fit all of their experience on one page without sacrifice. For seasoned pros, however, even three- and four-page resumes are not uncommon and are acceptable today.

Printing double sided will get you two pages for the price of one, and can impress companies who are environmental oriented.

2. Using Ancient Fonts

A “font” is the style and shape of the words on your resume. The right fonts are modern and easy to read. The wrong fonts are ancient and difficult to read. The right fonts are Arial and Helvetica. The wrong fonts are Times New Roman and anything else too fancy.

If you have your resume in Times New Roman font, like many of us do, change it to Arial. You’ll be amazed at how much cleaner, modern and more professional it looks.

3. Writing in Paragraphs instead of Bullet Points

Your resume is an outline, not a novel. Use bullet points to highlight your experience and education, with short sentences or phrases.

Don’t write in long block paragraphs that tell a story. It makes your resume much harder for a human to “scan” quickly, and is likely to cause your resume to be thrown into the rejected pile.

4. Using a Street Address

Including a City and State is fine, but there is no reason to include your actual Street Address. The employer isn’t going to be notifying you of an interview by snail mail.

Skipping the street address is good for you for two reasons. It helps prevent both identity theft and junk mail. Since many job ads are from companies that choose not to reveal their names, you never know who you’re sending your resume to, so skip the street address and keep yourself protected.

5. Not Including an Email Address

Yes, you may have emailed your resume to the recruiter, but it’s still important to have your email address on your resume, as well as your phone number.

Listing an email is not just a matter of convenience. It says, “Yes, I am part of the modern world, please hire me.”

6. Using an Objective instead of a Summary

Objectives are out and Summaries are in. The reason is an Objective tells the employer what you want. A Summary tells the employer who you are and what you can do for them.

Your Summary should be about 2 or 3 sentences that state what job you are applying for, and a brief explanation of your career highlights. You should be able to read your summary section out loud in 30 seconds or less.

7. Ignoring Keywords

Resumes are scanned by computers as often as they are read by humans. The software is designed to scan resumes for the keywords chosen by the employer. If you don’t have the right keywords, your resume never gets selected to be read by a real human.

There are two ways to manage keywords. The easy way is to simply include a keyword section (don’t call it that, call it “Core Competency”).

The harder but better way of using keywords is to place them throughout your resume in the descriptions of your work and school experience. It’s more natural, and will score better with the actual human recruiter.

The secret to knowing the right keywords is that they are usually in the job ad. If you see a list of skills required, a certain educational degree, or specific licenses or other qualifications, those are all keywords. Any unique words could be keywords, but things like “strong work ethic” are never keywords.

8. Stating Obvious Computer Skills

Don’t list common technology on your resume. We all know how to use Microsoft Word, Windows, Internet Explorer, Twitter and Facebook. We all know how to use an email program.

For upper-level applicants, it is already inferred that you possess the entry-level technical skills that were needed to successfully rise through the ranks. Listing them would unnecessarily lend your overall presentation a lower-level feel, which you would obviously want to avoid.

9. References Available Upon Request

Of course they are. References were more important before the internet became everybody’s reference. Google is always willing to give you a reference, for better or worse. It goes without saying that you are going to provide references if a prospective employer you want to hire you requests them.

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Comments

  1. says

    This is a must read! It’s true — why include street addresses or fax numbers these days? They just aren’t necessary anymore. Sharing. -Sarah

  2. Marthaghargett says

    I found your resume tips very helpful.  I am a graduate student; who has completed twenty successful years in customer service; and  wish to change my career to Information Systems.  Therefore; a resume is an essential tool; for my entrance into this newly formulated of specialization.

    Martha

  3. Rsmith says

    Heads up, there are two spelling/grammar errors in #5 :/ Regardless, these are some great tips! Especially about the objective and summary – I’ve battled for years whether that objective is necessary, but professors kept saying to leave it in. I think I’ll take it out now!

    Thanks!

  4. JKappel says

    Be careful about recommending Arial font. Research shows that sans-serif type is actually more difficult to read than serif. Try Verdana, a small serif but still clean.

  5. Patrick says

    I strongly disagree that times new roman is an outdated font.

    First of all, Serif fonts (times new roman, cambria (the default font on Mac Word 2011), etc) are much more readable in long paragraphs than Sans Serif fonts (Arial, Helvetica, etc). Besides, Arial is just a cheap copy of Helvetica, I dont see any reason the editor still recommend Arial when Helvetica are widely available on modern computers. Last, what you put on the resume is much more important than fancy fonts, unless you apply for a designer job.

  6. says

    Wow! These are really great tips, especially for those with experience who haven’t re-examined their resumes in a while and for those that aren’t getting good info at school. How often would you suggest that recent grads revise their resume? We hire many recent college grads and it would be great to help them continue to develop their resumes as they grow throughout the company.

  7. says

    I’ve known recent grads who have revised their resumes from one to a dozen times in a given period depending on any new jobs, honors, volunteer work, etc. In my opinion, if a recent grad is sending out countless resumes each week and not getting any bites or calls for interviews, it’s time to revise the resume. If they are already working at a company, it’s best to revise the resume if he/she has any significant accomplishments to report or new job responsibilities.

  8. Marva Jernigan says

    I was glad to see these tips today and will now have to revise my resume again. The font was one thing I never thought about and I’ve always disliked Times New Roman. The key words information was helpful too. I am ready to re-enter the job market and just felt that my resume did not pop or was outdated. This was very helpful information.

  9. Alan says

    Awesome article. Thanks!!!

    I have a trick that I use to insert the so called core competencies; if you have any type of design on your resume is very easy to add a very extensive list as part of the design.
    Simply reduce the list to the smallest size and add it to your design or headers & footers.
    I am sure there is a more sophisticated way to do it, but it worked for me and it saves tons of space while tricking the scanners to pass your resume on to a human.

    I hope it helps someone! :)

    cheers

  10. says

    Well, about half of this advice is correct.

    I’ve always hated the idea that there are any hard and fast rules regarding resumes. Rules are meant to be broken.

    Most importantly, it is COMPLETELY incorrect to tell people to leave off basic computer skills. You might be surprised at how many C-level executives do NOT know how to use MS Word. Plus, ATS are often looking for these skills as key words.

    I also would not suggest a .5 margin. I try to never go less than .7.

    @Alan: FYI, most ATS cannot read headers or footers so any info (yes, including your contact info and keywords) that you bury in the header or footer is pointless.

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