9 Things That Make Your Resume Look Old

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Posted by The Editors on April 3, 2012
9 Things That Make Your Resume Look Old

Your resume is a representation of you to a recruiter or prospective employer, so don’t date yourself by making an old-fashioned first impression.

Here are 9 red flags that will instantly make your resume appear outdated:

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 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.

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. But for experienced professionals a two-page resume is the most common format. For seasoned pros, three- and four-page resumes are not uncommon and are acceptable today.

2. Using ancient fonts. The right fonts are modern and easy to read. The wrong fonts are ancient and difficult to read. Try using Arial and Helvetica instead of Times New Roman, Comic Sans, or anything else too fancy.

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.

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. Plus, it helps prevent both identity theft and junk mail.

5. Not including an email address. Yes, you may have emailed your resume to the recruiter, but its still important to have your email address on your resume, as well as your phone number.

6. Using an objective statement instead of a summary. The purpose of an objective statement is to tell the employer what you want. A summary, however, tells the employer who you are and what you can do for them. Your summary should be about two or three 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’re 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, there’s a good chance your resume won’t land in human hands.

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 looking at 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. Things like “strong work ethic” are never keywords.

8. Stating obvious computer skills. Don’t list common technology skills on your resume. We all know how to use Internet Explorer, but not everyone knows how to use Quark or InDesign.

9. Adding “References available upon request.” Of course they are. It goes without saying that you’re going to provide references if a prospective employer asks for them.


Founded in 2005 at Harvard, Stanford and MIT, Doostang was created with one goal in mind: to successfully advance ambitious young professionals in their careers.  Doostang offers its members the opportunity to search thousands of high-quality, highly relevant job opportunities, and tools to leverage their inside connection to get hired. Follow Doostang on Twitter: @Doostang

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