5 outdated resume rules you need to stop following

With record-rates of unemployment, more professionals than ever are gearing up for the great job search. In addition to updating your Ladders profile and following the best practices for cover letters, it’s important to brush up your resume.

This critical document is required in all industries and serves as in introduction to your background, brand, and potential. Even though this is widely used throughout every stage of your career, many professionals miss the mark by following outdated resume tips. Here, experts shed insight on what is no longer relevant—and what to do instead:

Including your full mailing address

When you were fresh out of college, your university counselor likely recommended including your home address on your resume. Ever since it’s stayed at the top… but why is it necessary? And perhaps even more importantly: should you really be sending this private information around the interwebs? Amanda Augustine, a career expert for TopResume, says. At the same time, this information was once standard; it’s now considered a security risk and one that isn’t worth the precious space it takes up on your document.

If you are searching for a job close to home, Augustine suggests including your city, state and zip code to illustrate your locality. But, if you want to relocate or you’re applying for a remote position, remove it altogether. 

Using a resume objective statement

Decades ago, an ‘objective’ statement was required to lead resumes. This would often dictate your purpose for applying to a specific company or explain your ultimate goal within your professional trajectory. While Augustine says these vague sentences seem innocuous, it doesn’t really help an employer determine whether you are qualified for the position or worth pursuing. So, skip it!

In its place, consider mapping out a professional summary. Rather than illustrating your ‘wants’ and ‘needs,’ this paragraph creates a career narrative. Rather than putting it in your resume, it can be used in your cover letter or as your ‘about’ section on your LinkedIn profile. “In three to five sentences, summarize your qualifications for the role you’re targeting and provide examples of how you’ve used the skills and experience you’ve gained to produce results and provide value to your previous employers,” she recommends.

Offering references

Does ‘references available upon request’ sound familiar? Probably so since you’ve likely read it and you’ve written it at some point in your job search. Four words may not make a huge difference but if they are in a completely separate paragraph? That’s valuable space on your resume that could be used for something more impactful.

After all, Augustine says it’s sort of jumping the gun. “Employers won’t ask for your references until you’ve made it past the initial interview rounds, and they know you’ll provide this information if they request it,” she continues. “Instead of wasting resume real estate with these details, prepare a list of at least three references on a separate sheet of paper that can be provided to a prospective employer at a moment’s notice.”

Restricting yourself to only one page

Contrary to what you may have heard, Augustine says it is unnecessary to condense your work experience down to a one-page document. Most professionals—whether they have eight or 18 years of experience—should aim for a two-page resume. Augustine points to research analyzing the feedback of 500 recruiters, hiring managers, and human resources professionals, that suggested they are 2.3 times more likely to prefer a two-pager over a one-pager. 

This doesn’t mean you should fill your resume with unnecessary and irrelevant information just to get to two pages. Instead, you should feel free to use an additional sheet if you need one. “Expand beyond a timeline of your professional and educational experience to tell the story of your career by including a professional summary, a section to list your relevant skills or areas of expertise, and other relevant details,” she suggests.

Including a personal story

The hope of a resume is to be awarded an in-person interview. With this in mind, this document should catalyze further communication. Much like dating, the reader should be left intrigued and wanting more, without knowing your full story. That’s why psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. says a resume isn’t a place to disclose personal anecdotes. It should only be buttoned-up—and only speak to your successes.

“Psychologically, you are unintentionally diluting and diminishing the key points of your resume when you also include details about your personal life and interests,” she continues. “Instead, focus on writing a resume that represents you in all your dimensions of your professional life, which is what the purpose of the resume is supposed to be for.”