6 Tips to Bring Your Resume into the 21st Century

When was the last time you updated your resume?

And I mean REALLY updated it. Not just added new bullets for the promotion you got last year, but cleaned up the design, format and all the other little details?

Has it been awhile? A few years (maybe 10)? You probably need to freshen that baby up and make it look goooooooood.

Why do looks matter?

Because you only have 6-seconds to keep your resume out of the trash so your resume needs to be formatted for scanability, and make all the necessary information easy to see and notice.

Here are 6 tips to bring your resume into the 21st century (and keep it out of the trash).

1. For Font’s Sake! Freshen Up That Typeface

“Using Times New Roman is the typeface equivalent of wearing sweatpants to an interview.”

In my opinion, using Times New Roman is more like wearing a double-breasted suit to an interview. Even though it’s straight out of the 40’s, it’s all you had in your closet so you just threw it on. Yeah, Times New Roman is like that. It’s the default.

If you want to switch it up, Helvetica is a preferred font by many. I’m partial to Arial, Calibri and Verdana for their more modern and approachable vibe.

2. Get Rid of Identity Theft Bait

In this day and age, we need to be particularly protective of our personal information. A resume is no exception. There’s no need to put your full mailing address on your resume (nor your cover letter for that matter). Instead, only include your City/Metro and Province/State.

3. Show Social Media Links (They’re Looking Anyway)

Every resume should include a link to your LinkedIn profile. And if you want to be particularly transparent, your Twitter handle too. You might as well give recruiters the goods up front. They’re looking anyway.

4. Clean Up the Bullet Barf

The purpose of using bullets on a resume is to highlight key accomplishments. So when you overuse bullets, it looks like you’re highlighting everything and in effect, drawing attention to nothing. Not to mention, overusing bullets signals lack of effort and thought when preparing your resume.

Instead, use small paragraphs to discuss your duties, and strategically use 2-5 bullets to point out notable, quantifiable, accomplishments.

5. Use Key Words to Beat the ‘Bots

There are these software systems that recruiters use to make their lives easier. They are called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and they can cause a lot of frustrations for job seekers. There are no fool-proof methods to beating these ‘bots, but one of the best things you can do is make sure that the resume you submit is customized to the job you’re applying for. That means using keywords from the job posting in your Career Summary and Skills section because that’s what the ATS looks for. That way, you improve your chances of getting your resume through the ATS and into the hands of a real human.

6. Remove Your Interests (They’re Not That Interested in Your Interests)

Whether to include or not include your hobbies and interests on a resume is often a hot debate among us resume writers. I’m on the “exclude them” team. Here’s the rub: You’re working with seriously finite space on a 2-page resume. That means there’s no room to show you’re well-rounded with your regular yoga practice or interest in showing dogs. Why would you want to waste the space using it for anything other than reinforcing just how great of a professional fit you are?

Kamara Toffolo

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