Could that be because the form and substance of your résumé haven’t kept up with the times? Check your résumé for the following symptoms of “old-schoolitis.” If the answer to any of the following is yes, then your résumé is due for a makeover.
Your résumé includes an “objective.”
The “objective” is to get the interview (and, ultimately, the job). That is the tacit understanding these days, and it hardly needs to be expressly stated. Any other “objective” is a waste of precious space; it will be cliché (e.g., “To grow in synergy with other team players”) or otherwise be centered on you (e.g., “To take my career to new heights”) where it should be focused on the employer’s needs.
All you need for an “objective” is a professional headline. Make sure that headline sounds like a close match to the role you are targeting. And don’t even lead into your headline with the word “objective”; it’s as redundant as writing the word “résumé” on your résumé.
The font is Times New Roman.
The widespread use of Times New Roman in electronic word processing goes all the way back to the 1980s, when word processors started making their entrance in offices. With that kind of history, Times New Roman by now has a “baby-boomer font” image, harsh as that may sound. Your résumé will say “Dinosaur!” right there.
Besides avoiding Times New Roman, you might want to steer clear of fonts that even have backward-sounding names; fonts with names like “Bookman Old Style” might look as if you wanted to turn back from the 21st century.
There are many fonts to choose from, and granted, the choice is somewhat subjective. Sans-serif fonts generally look more modern than serif fonts. With that said: Arial may look great, but it may also be about to suffer the same fate as Times New Roman. Some of the better choices include: Helvetica (note, though, that not all systems have Helvetica installed); Calibri; Tahoma; and Verdana.
Your résumé says, “References available upon request.”
That phrase is so outdated, it will get your résumé discarded immediately. It is self-evident you have references and will provide them upon request. Anything else would be quite strange.
Back when that phrase was commonly used, it generally appeared at the bottom of the résumé. In that place, it also served the purpose of saying, “The End.” Nowadays, that purpose is served for the most part by the section on your education, which usually appears at the bottom of your résumé. (If your education is farther up in the order of sections, and you are not a fresh graduate or working in academia, then you might want to question that for its “old-schoolness” as well.)
Your job bullets are built around “Responsible for...” and “Duties included....”
Those phrases make your bullets sound like job descriptions. Employers don’t really care for descriptions of your past jobs; those jobs may not even exist anymore.
What employers care for is what you actually did: how you applied your skills, how you made a difference, and what new competencies you came away with from that job. Therefore, build your bullets around action verbs. That way, they say: “Dear reader, here’s what I did; here I stand ready to do the same for you—if not better, since now I have more experience.”
Just as you wouldn’t show up for an interview with a sticky note saying “Old School!” on your forehead, it is important for your résumé to avoid saying that. Remember: in all regularity, the employer doesn’t know you, your professionalism, and the quality of your work. Your résumé (and cover letter) is all they have for a first impression, and they will jump to conclusions about your professional persona.
Thus, if “Old School!” is what your résumé says, the employer will be likely to associate “Old School!” with your brand. Part of ensuring you look like the right professional brand for the employer’s needs is showing your résumé has arrived in the 21st century. Get help from a Certified Professional Résumé Writer to present you as the right fit for that opportunity.
This article was published at an earlier date as a guest post on a website that is no longer active.