Certified professional resume writer Samantha Nolan details three common resume faux pas and the solutions to fix them.
Dear Sam: I have been downsized, and as a baby boomer I find myself in unfamiliar territory. I created what I thought was a good resume, but having put it into the market without so much as one response, I’m beginning to realize that it may be outdated in style and format. Could you give me some tips to help me create an up-to-date resume? – Jim
Dear Jim: Once you have the basics drafted, carefully craft your resume, making sure not to fall victim to these committed baby boomer resume faux pas.
FAUX PAS: Not following best practices in terms of up-to-date content and prioritization of information.
You will not believe how many resumes I see for seasoned professionals that open with an Objective Statement and an education section — sections that do little to differentiate their candidacy.
Up-to-date resumes open with Qualifications Summaries to provide a synopsis of the information contained in the remainder of the document.
As an experienced professional, you should have a two- to three-page resume, making the Qualifications Summary critical to the four- to seven-second screening process. Take the time to make this summary market you well, conveying why a hiring manager cannot afford not to bring you in for an interview.
FAUX PAS: Including information from 20 to 30 years ago.
Hiring managers are much more interested in what you have done recently, so dated information will likely do more harm than good.
Be sure to focus on the last 10 to 15 years of your career, particularly when applying for positions that do not require more experience.
There is a technique in resume writing called bylining, which entails breaking format at the end of your Professional Experience section and presenting earlier experience without dates.
To do this well, you must change the way the information is presented to justify the omission of dates. For example, if you’re presenting experience back to 1995 but held a job in the 1980s that is directly related to your career target, you may add a statement akin to, “Additional experience with ABC Company as a Sales Manager.”
You can elaborate on this statement if you like, perhaps presenting some key accomplishments in the role, but the key is to omit any dates.
Bylining earlier experience allows you to pull from all your related experience, discuss the benefits of the role(s) elsewhere in your resume and cover letter and provide additional evidence of your qualifications at an interview — all without unnecessarily aging your candidacy.
FAUX PAS: Using a dated, unattractive design.
Think about it, if a resume is unattractive — and it will be if you are using the same format you used 10-plus years ago — it will repel readership.
Check out professional resume-writing websites for ideas on attractive formatting, being sure to avoid designs that look like an overused Word template available to the masses.
The look of your resume says a lot about your candidacy, your attention to detail and your ability to create an engaging document.