5 Tell tale signs why your resume is out of fashion

October 25, 2013


Many people continue to use one and the same resumé  year after year. A document that was created (very) long ago, updated from time to time by adding a new address or telephone number and a new position. Why? Fact is that about 80% of all people struggle with their resumés. They are not good at selling themselves, they are not skilled in writing resumés  they hate writing resumés and sometimes laziness prevents them from writing a crisp, modern resumé  They ask themselves: Why should I? Why change my resumé  everything that should be there is in there, so why bother? Well, don’t underestimate the importance of having a decent resumé or CV. It can and will make the difference in getting you an invitation for a job interview –or not. In this post I will give you 5 telltale signs to help you figure out if your resumé needs a makeover:

1. Your Resume Contains an Obsolete Objective

“I am looking for a senior management role where I can use my managerial experience and strategic skills to manage marketing and sales operations” Yawn. To put it bluntly: Employers don’t care what you want. The employer wants a solution for his “problem” and he hopes to find that solution in your resumé. “Client-focused senior sales manager”. That’s you! Writing that makes a more powerful impression, that’s something that could catch that employer’s attention.

2. There’s (a lot of) Corporate Speak and/or Complicated Language in Your Resume

Many old-fashioned resumés contain formal language and corporate language that not everybody understands. An example: “ensuring correct and JIT-fulfillment of the order flow so that the logistical performance is optimized according to pre-set KPI’s”. Translation: “making sure that correct processing of orders leads to timely delivery to customers”. Use clear language, write short lines (use bullet points) and don’t copy formal job descriptions. 

3. There Are Listings of Tasks and Responsibilities in Your Resume Instead of Results and Accomplishments

In many resumés one finds endless listings of formal tasks and responsibilities. They read like job descriptions. Try this: use a few lines to summarize your (main) tasks and beef up your resumé by listing your accomplishments or results, including numbers and/or percentages. That will give a far better picture of what you are capable of and beats job descriptions. Your resumé should tell your personal story.

4. The Lay-out of Your Resume is Inadequate

The font Times New Roman is very classic. Your resumé will look better if you use more modern fonts like Arial, Calibri or Tahoma. Also make sure, that the lay-out is consistent, don’t use two different fonts in your resumé and make sure that the variation in font size (headings vs. text) is the same throughout. Make sure that the overall lay-out is such that it is easy to scan and read your resumé, make use of white space. Modest use of color is fine, but be careful with it and ask yourself if that is appropriate in your industry or in your profession.

5. Your Resume Goes Back a Long Time

As we progress through our careers, we add to our employment history. It isn’t always necessary to prominently describe the role you fulfilled back in 1985. No doubt the industry in which you worked then, has changed. You have changed too. What matters for many employers is your recent (say, the last 10 years) employment history. Besides, you can do so much more now than you could do in 1985. So, it is okay to summarize positions you held a long time ago and to briefly describe highlights. Modern resumés put more emphasis on roles and results and de-emphasize early career experiences (or list them in a “minimalistic”  way).

In the end, a good and powerful resumé is the end result of a subtle combination of many elements such as content, style, lay-out and presentation. I hope that you can use these signals to –if you need to, of course- give your resume a facelift.

Rob van Zoelen