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7 Quick Fixes to Give your Resume a 21st Century Refresh

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Resume writing has changed dramatically since the end of the 20th century – and continues to evolve at lightning pace…in large part because technology has changed how readers read.

Here’s a snapshot of what today’s reader looks like:

 TODAY’S RESUME READER

  • TIME SPENT: 6 to 10 Seconds
  • PRINT OR ONLINE: 99% Online Reading for First 2 or 3 Rounds
  • SCREEN SIZE: 4 to 14 Inches

Today’s resume writing techniques focus on facilitating a skim, online read that is a must for standing out in a sea of resumes.

 #1 ONE v. TWO v. THREE PAGES

Three Pages: Too long and risks losing the attention span of a skim reader.

Two Pages: Ideal for capturing anywhere from 5 to 30 years of experience.

One Page: Reserved for workforce newbies and those in the same role for most of their career.

THE QUICK FIX: Widen margins to no more than .5 inches all around, choose a small sans serif font and set the point size to 10-11. This revised version will be considerably shorter in length.

 #2 PARAGRAPH v. BULLETS

The human eye can easily digest text chunked together in print. On a screen not so much. A skim reader who comes across a heavy block of text is apt to skip it altogether.

THE QUICK FIX: Whittle sentences down to one to two lines, place a bullet in front of it and include at least .5 points between bullets to facilitate skim, online reading.

 #3 FULL v. PARTIAL CONTACT INFORMATION

Those that read resumes as part of their job can easily tell a resume is dated thanks to telltale signs in the contact info at the top of the page.

THE QUICK FIX: Prepare a resume current with today’s trends by including 1) just a cell and not all numbers 2) a LinkedIn URL 3) just city, state and zip rather than full address when pressed for space.

#4 OBJECTIVE v. BRANDING

The objective statement became passé sometime around the turn of the 21st century. Replace yours with a branding paragraph that shows the reader how you’re ideally suited for the role.

THE QUICK FIX: Review job postings to uncover how the role is necessary to advance a company further. Include information that showcases how your achievements align with their needs.

#5 OMIT V. INCLUDE REFERENCES

“References Available Upon Request” does not play an important part in today’s resumes. Reference checks generally come after the interview stage, and this line takes up valuable resume real estate!

THE QUICK FIX: Remove it.

 #6 WHAT V. WOW

Don’t bury your achievements below your list of responsibilities. Today’s skim readers often never get past the first bullet on the first read.

THE QUICK FIX: Create a WOW achievement by asking yourself what you were proudest of in each role. Lead off with this as your first bullet.

#7 NEW v. OLD HISTORY

Readers want to know what you’ve been doing for the last 10-15 years. Once you start including 20th century dates, your reader will take time out of your precious six seconds to calculate age!

THE QUICK FIX: Remove dates from older experience and show career progression by devoting simply a line or two if the experience tells a good story. Otherwise just include the company name and title.

New times call for new techniques

As is the case in most industries, styles and trends continue to evolve. Resumes are no exception. Maintain a competitive advantage by keeping yours current in both style and content.

About the Author

Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW is the founder of Virginia Franco Resumes which offers customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker.