Resume styles definitely trend like fashion and evolve with technology. When I started as a recruiter thirty years ago, resumes were typed on the Selectric typewriter, in one of a couple of fonts that came on little rotating balls you snapped in, and photocopies were made at the local copy center. Word processing opened up the possibilities of customizing a resume for different jobs, and doing better layouts, and computers created the world of digital documents and email, when we saw a surge of fancy design elements as resumes evolved.
Today, the best resumes are clean, clear, modern and conversational, and most important, they reflect the human being who is behind the document. Here are six ways to give your resume a quick makeover.
- Change the font. Nothing screams old-fashioned louder than a serif font like Courier or Times Roman. These typefaces have a sense of seriousness about them that is the last thing you want when you're trying to convince someone that there is a great, up-to-date and lively person behind this resume. Better to use a clean sans serif font like Arial or Tahoma, or something a little more elegant and sleek like Century Gothic, which is my current favorite. And do not, I repeat DO NOT, use some cheesy script or fancy type. Keep it clean and elegant, just make it more modern. Changing the font is an instant makeover. And while you're at it, make sure you're aligning things properly. If you don't know how to use indents and tabs to line up blocks of text, ask someone who does.
- Get rid of the objective. Starting off with a tightly worded objective used to be the norm, but over the past few years the heading has been replaced with a positioning statement or perhaps some job titles that tell the reader exactly what kind of person this resume belongs to. I love that resumes have evolved this way, because as a recruiter, it's much more helpful to see "Online Advertising Sales Executive" than to read a long convoluted sentence like "Objective: To apply my years of sales expertise in a dynamic environment for a growing company where I can expand and contribute to the bottom line and gain new skills." That is just meaningless, but the first one tells me what you are, and that's what I needed to know, thanks.
- Use plain English and tell your story. Take a look at the language in your resume, which, as we both know, probably still has the structure and wording that you started with many years and jobs ago, right? It's no longer in style to use dry corporate-speak when talking about work. Your resume is a story about you, so tell it in plain English, using sentences. Write like you talk. The best test if you can read it out loud and it flows and makes sense. The easiest way to write so it sounds natural it is to imagine that you're talking to someone. This is also the perfect time to get rid of all those bullets that have been in fashion for so long; they sound choppy as we read them, so use them sparingly for highlighting an accomplishment or two in each job.
- Include your LinkedIn profile link. After I review a candidate's resume, the next thing I do is find their LinkedIn profile. I'm looking for consistency with their resume, for how many connections they have, and for what kind of recommendations people have written for them. And yes, I confess that I like when there is a photo there, a picture being worth a thousand words and all that. But LinkedIn is a big place, and there are many people with the same name, so when you include your link, it saves time and shows that you know how the game is played nowadays.
- Delete those old jobs from more than 10-15 years ago. Some resume coaches say don't go back more than ten years, but your work experience might need more time to make sense, and might need 20 years if you're very senior. But weed out the old stuff that doesn't matter any more, like that job selling insurance you had when you were 18 or the first career you had as a mechanic. If it's not germane to the job at hand, and isn't important in your story, just drop it off entirely, since jobs from too long ago can make you look old and old-fashioned.
- Write your resume with key words in mind. Chances are that your resume will be put into some kind of candidate tracking or search software somewhere, or that you'll post it up on a board like Monster or The Ladders, and that means it needs to come up in searches. Make sure to use the key words people will be searching for, including their variations, when you talk about your experience. Think like the recruiter, searching for the perfect candidate… imagine what they might type into the search box, and make sure those words are found in your resume.
With these changes, a stilted old-fashioned resume can transform quickly into an appealing and energetic representation of you, and that will help it do its job, which is to make you look like such a good candidate, the reader finds themselves looking forward to interviewing you.