Your Resume Is Ready for the Attic

Does your resume include an objective statement, fax number, a “typewriter” font or “references are available upon request”? If so, your job search is full of outdated furniture.

I recently posted a picture on Facebook of myself as a kid sitting in my living room. I love this picture because it reminds me what my house looked like as a child, and it’s a window into home-décor trends of the era. My mother had a penchant for plastic slipcovers, and she put them on everything in the living room, including the lampshades. Plastic slipcovers made their debut in the mid-’50s and managed to haunt my family through the next two decades. My friends and I have been chuckling over the picture and trying to figure out why anyone would subject their loved ones to the feel of sticky plastic, especially in the summertime.

But when my mom had plastic slipcovers it was all the rage, and many of my friends tell stories of “growing up plastic” as well. Of course now when we think about plastic slipcovers we immediately conjure up a “dated” image.

It’s easy to figure out that your furniture is out of style because you have to look at it every day; you’re constantly comparing it to other people’s furniture and the trends you see in the media.

But what about your resume? Many people don’t look at their resume or update it for years and years because they don’t see the need. And when they do need their resume for something, what do they do? They pull out the old one and just add the new job. No redecorating here.

So what people end up with is basically the same resume they wrote 20 years ago — kind of like outdated plastic slipcovers.

Here are some telltale signs that your resume needs to be “redecorated”:

  1. Your resume leads with an objective statement. No one wants to see an objective statement on a resume anymore. They communicate what you are looking for, which isn’t of much interest to a hiring manager. Hiring authorities want to know what’s in it for them. Do you have the competencies and the proof of performance to help solve their business problems?
    Solution: Create a profile or executive summary that outlines your big-picture accomplishments and the value you can bring to an employer. Leave the objective off the resume and in the past where it belongs.
  2. Your contact information includes a fax number. Nothing screams “1980s” like a fax number. Chances are no employer will need to contact you by fax.
    Solution: Omit the fax number; better yet, use that space to include the URL for your Web site or LinkedIn profile.
  3. Your dates of employment are all left justified. Having dates of employment to the left made sense in the days of the typewriter when tabs were the only way to indent content. Thanks to Microsoft Word, text is much more malleable, and space can be better utilized.
    Solution: Place employment dates after the company name or to the right to optimize space and save room for other important content.
  4. The font on your resume is Courier 10. Courier 10 was all there was when all documents were created on typewriters. Now we have scores of choices.
    Solution: Choose a new font.
  5. Your resume contains several personal attributes to describe you. If you are using adjectives on your resume such as “loyal,” “detail-oriented,” “good communicator” or “hard-working” to describe your value to an employer, stop. Descriptions of personal attributes are meaningless unless there is tangible proof of these traits within the body of the resume. Their use is very old-school, and my guess is you copied those words from someone else’s outdated resume or from a book of resume samples that was published during President Clinton’s first administration.
    Solution: Omit adjectives describing your personal attributes and focus on evidence of your accomplishments and key business value.
  6. “References are available upon request.” Well, they used to be. Now many hiring managers Google candidates before they call them in for an interview. That means your references are often available online whether you want them to be or not.
    Solution: Ditch the statement about references and save the space for something more important.

There are furniture trends, fashion trends, and even resume-writing trends. Stay current and informed about the latest resume-writing styles and tips to increase the likelihood of getting noticed by hiring managers.