Does Your Resume Look Dated? 6 Ways To Tell

resume bad practices

By Susan Ricker


If you just bought new, expensive resume paper, you've already made a job-search mistake. Most job applications and resumes are submitted online now -- one of countless new trends in the modern hiring process. Many job seekers are using outdated job-search practices, risking the impression that they are unable to keep up with technology. Are you worried that your resume looks dated? Here are some signs.

You don't include any links. Or worse, your links are dead.
The first section of your resume needs to include your name, address, email and phone number, and links to portfolios or websites. Any links that you do include should be checked to make sure they work, and only include links to sites that you regularly update. Also be sure to include a professional email address, and ditch the inappropriate "OMGlove2party" email, which sounds unprofessional.


You don't use keywords.
The "summary" section is the best place to include keywords taken from the job description, since most hiring companies utilize applicant-tracking systems to narrow down possible candidates. However, be sure to incorporate keywords throughout the resume, but don't just copy and paste the job description.

Place the most relevant and interesting experience at the top. Most hiring managers only skim resumes, and leading with strong qualifications can be a good attention-getter. Also be sure to remove any overly personal information. Old job applications used to inquire about marital status, family members and sometimes religious affiliation. Not only is that information illegal to ask now, it's irrelevant to most positions. Keep your resume clean, professional and focused.


You've listed "career objectives."
In 2012, "career objectives" are a rarity. Instead of wasting valuable paper space, include a professional summary in your cover letter and apply it to the position you're vying for and how it fits into your career plan. Reserve the career achievements/skills section for descriptions of honors or promotions, as well as performance-review quotes that cite strengths and quantifiable information. When referring to previous roles, use the past tense. Only current jobs and projects should be written in the present tense.

Also size up your resume and determine if you're including more tasks than results for previous positions. Hiring managers are looking for candidates that can meet daily expectations as well as go above and beyond, which means that including any professional associations and awards is a resume boost.


You've listed every job you've ever held.
List relevant jobs only, not every part-time gig you held over the past 20 years. If you're not sure if you should include a job, ask if it's relevant to this position and your current career goals. For the employers you do list, make sure to include details on tasks you're responsible for, as well as the company's industry -- there are 7.5 million companies in the U.S., and most of us don't know what they do. If you have a gap in your history because of family obligations, "homemaker sabbatical" will sufficiently explain a work hiatus so the interviewer can focus on your work accomplishments.


You've listed your GPA.
Include alma mater details here, as well as other trainings, certifications and accomplishments that are relevant to your position. This section doesn't need to list past courses taken. Unless you're currently in school and applying for your first full-time position or internship, you most likely don't need to include your GPA.


You've listed "references available upon request."
That line is unnecessary. Unless the job posting specifically asks for references, don't include any on your resume. If you get asked in for an interview, you may want to have a list of references prepared in advance, but keep your contacts to yourself before that step.


Other tips
  • Design your resume with a focus. Every detail should support the idea that you're the best candidate for the position.
  • Use specific, concrete language that measures your accomplishments.
  • Remove overused words, such as "outstanding, effective, strong, exceptional, good, excellent, driven, motivated, seasoned or energetic." Beware of unsupported claims of greatness.
  • Don't include a photo.
  • Resumes should be no more than two pages, but most candidates will be better off with one page. Most hiring managers only glance at resumes, so be conscious of space, and organize the layout with a balance of white space and text. Avoid large blocks of text.
  • Go through drafts of your resume before you settle on one that works, and have several friends or family members proofread it. There should be no typos or formatting errors. Aim for a resume that is clean, simple and can be easily submitted online.

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