4 things that will send your resume straight to the trash in 2021

Embarking on a job search in 2021 after a long-standing career at a company? The first thing on your list is to update your resume and ensure it’s in top shape, targeted towards specific roles, and in tune with the current resume trends.

But, before you hit “send” on that email to the recruiter, job application, or key person of interest at your dream company, here are four things to avoid doing with your resume in 2021:

Stop focusing only on job responsibilities

If you haven’t job searched in several years or perhaps the last decade, then your resume may appear as a task-focused resume with a laundry list of bullet points. In 2021, that’s a no-no!

While you should focus on the job tasks/functions to ensure the right keywords are in the resume, don’t overlook the facts that support those keywords. Otherwise, you sound like a doer not an achiever.

Instead, fuse those important keywords (i.e., business development, client management, sales execution, etc.) into your work experience section by showcasing them through results, major contributions, and key projects you have undertaken at various companies and organizations.

Expert Tip:  Before you update your resume, create a brag sheet. Think about your unique value in each role, 3-4 major projects you worked on in each role, and determine the quantitative and qualitative achievements that occurred as a result of your work. 

Ditch the objective

Objectives should not be used in a resume. Your objective is to find a job, but a concise professional summary (2-3 sentences) gives an introduction or roadmap to the novel about yourself and the high-caliber skill sets you have to offer. It should entice the reader with information that will make him/her want to continue on reading more about you and the value you offer the organization. 

Expert Tip:  Analyze several targeted job postings. Next, highlight keywords that stand out (hard skills and soft skills). You will often see a pattern and overlap of the same skill sets being emphasized. Those need to be fused into your professional summary and woven throughout your resume. 

Avoid a 1-page resume if you have a longstanding career

Most people think a 2-page resume is overkill, but if you’ve got a career that spans 15-20 years with movement across various companies, it’s impossible to have a short, abridged resume that details your career story with fact-punched results. While a 1-page resume can be an effective networking document for business meetings and consultant gigs, a 2-page resume will give more depth into your background, results, achievements, and full career trajectory. 

Expert Tip:  Your resume should be as long as it needs to in order to tell your career story. You want to allot the right amount of space to emphasize achievements, results, and projects that highlight your leadership and career value.

Stop the glitz and glam

As a proponent of the “less is more” design of a resume, I recommend keeping the fluffy adjectives and hyperbole out, keeping the design elements easy to parse for the reader (center headlines, etc.), and creating an easy-to-read look for the resume.  Remember, you must play into the psychology of the reader and make it enjoyable for them to read and digest.

Expert Tip:  Select a sans serif font (Arial, Calibri, Helvetica) and create enough white space in the resume. That means using nothing less than 10-point font and keeping the margins at .50 and above (preferably at .60 if possible). Otherwise, you are just compromising readability.