If the recession taught us anything, it should be not to get complacent and take your job for granted, because it could be gone as fast as you can say “downturn.” But it seems that many workers, especially older ones, didn’t get that memo. A new survey ” target=”_blank”>from jobs site Monster finds that 41% of workers 55 years and older don’t have a current resume.
If you haven’t updated their resume since George W. Bush was president, you need to fix that — but you might not know where to start, or what elements are going to peg you as being glaringly out-of-date to a hiring manager. We consulted career and workforce experts to find out how to rehab your resume.
Eliminate “skills” that make you sound clueless. Does your resume still say you’re proficient in Microsoft Word? Good — use that skill to delete that line. “You’re expected to be capable of using a basic program like Word,” says Scott Dobroski, career trends analyst at jobs site Glassdoor.com. And while you’re at it, “Remove ‘the Internet’ from your list of skills. Saying that you’re good at the Internet is one way to age yourself quickly,” he says. Ditto for Googling.
Don’t use jargon that was fresh a decade (or more) ago. Would you tell a hiring manager it was “groovy” to meet them? Of course not. Likewise, make sure the terminology on your resume is up to date, says Amanda Augustine, a consultant and career management expert for TheLadders. “For instance, I don’t know many people who still use the term ‘web marketing’ or even ‘Internet marketing.’ Most consider these to be Web 1.0 terms,” she says. “Nowadays you’re more likely to see them listed as ‘online marketing’ or ‘digital marketing.’” The buzzwords in your industry might be different, but the need to keep them current isn’t.
Lose the objective. “The days of a professional objective… are over, especially for anyone with ten years experience or more,” Dobroski says. Instead, replace that tired line with a professional summary. “This includes two to three short sentence and should capture who you are professionally, what makes you unique and underscore how you can contribute to the company,” he says.
Fix the formatting. Many HR departments today use technology called applicant tracking systems, or ATFs, to electronically sift through resumes, so you have to make sure these tools can “read” your resume. “Avoid using document headers or tables within your resume format. Systems can sometimes ignore or get confused by these features,” says Colin Day, CEO o of recruiting software company iCIMS. Use an easy-to-read, sans serif font like Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, or Calibri. “I would also advise avoiding serif fonts like Times New Roman for systems that may have difficulty parsing text,” Day says. And make sure the size is at least 11 points.
Even if a human is reading your resume, you want to make sure the formatting won’t go haywire when they try to open it. “If you’re using an old version of Word, there’s a good chance all the time you spent carefully formatting your resume will be thrown out the window,” Augustine warns. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your resume is compatible with Word 2013, she suggests.
Don’t tell them your entire life story. “A major mistake job seekers can make is to list out every single job they’ve held since college,” Dobroski says. This just communicates to a hiring manager that you’re out of touch with today’s fast-paced professional environment where every moment counts. “The hiring manager doesn’t have time to spend reading your every move since graduation,” he says, and being oblivious to that will make you look either obtuse or inconsiderate. “Job seekers who keep their resumes focused on their skill set and relevant work will come out on top,” he says.
Just don’t. According to our experts, things that need to come off your resume right now include: two spaces after a period, a landline, the phrase “references available upon request” and anything about your college education if it was more than 15 years ago.