The Evolution of the Resume: 1999 – 2009

Job searching with an outdated resume in this market will only bring you frustration and missed opportunities.


Make sure your resume lives up to the standards of 2009. Job searching with an outdated resume in this market will only bring you frustration and missed opportunities.

In 1999 job seekers chose between several selections of fine resume paper (ivory, eggshell, grey, and light blue) just to send these resumes through a fax machine. With Internet-enabled job seekers accessing available job listings, the number of applicants per position skyrocketed and hiring managers struggled with volume — filing cabinets quickly became insufficient.
It’s all different today. Updates to employer technology (like searchable databases, advanced Human Resource Information Systems [HRIS] and applicant tracking systems) necessitate changes to the way resumes are written and designed. The following changes are almost taken for granted as resume “musts” now a decade later:

1999 2009
  • Job seekers did not trust email to deliver a resume; snail mail or fax was used to deliver resumes to employers.
  • Keywords were only used in the top ‘keyword section’
  • Resumes were stored by job seekers on 3.5 inch disks.
  • Paper resumes were toted to interviews


  • E-mail is the name of the game; have a professional e-mail address and file naming system
  • Integrate keywords into the entire document for electronic searches
  • Store your resume on a thumb drive
  • Still bring a paper resume to in-person interviews


Ten years ago it was a common joke that job candidates merely had to be breathing to be eligible for a job. It was a HOT market in 1999. The dot-com bubble was in full bloom and instant stock-option millionaires were everywhere. It was not uncommon to find CEOs in their twenties, especially in start-up companies. Venture capitalists were handing out money as if it was Halloween candy. It was a dream world for job seekers with employers practically bidding for candidates.
As we move into 2009, we are entering one of the most competitive job markets ever known. That means you, the job seeker, must be very competitive in every aspect of your job search. You can pull no punches when laying out your qualifications and you cannot afford to be humble.

Don’t date yourself with passé resume formats or behind-the-times naïveté. Resumes are living documents that change over time and adjust to the needs of the market. They evolve to best market job seekers to a changing employment world. A decade is a long time in “resume years” and light years in terms of job market conditions. Brush up your arsenal and you’ll be well on your way to a 21st century job search.