Thursday, December 2, 2010

Five Signs Your Resume is Outdated

If you don't do it professionally or it isn't your forte, writing a resume can be a daunting task and something you aren't likely to do on a daily basis.  It is no surprise that many people haven't updated their resume in years - sometimes even decades
Signs Your Resume is Outdated #1: References Available Upon Request
This week, an executive resume client asked if he should include "references available upon" request at the end of his resume.  Posting this at the end of your resume used to signal "that's it! This is the end of my resume."  But isn't it a given that you will provide references upon request?  If you couldn't, you would have no business looking for a job.  Why not conclude your resume with "Interviews Upon Request" instead? 

You should have your list of references ready to bring to interviews or to include to employers should they make the request.  Most importantly, be sure your references have agreed to be your reference!  Use people that you have known for more than a year and ensure your references are prepared for phone calls.
Signs Your Resume is Outdated #2: One-Pagers are for College Kids Only
Length of resume comes up a lot in questions from my clients.  See my post How Many Pages Is Right? for more detail on this issue.  The old adage that resumes should be one-page and one-page only is an outdated theory.  A kid in or fresh out of college or a person with very little experience may have a one-pager but for executives with 15-20+ years of experience and a broad skill set would have more accomplishments than will adequately fit in one-page.

Your resume should be concise.  Nobody wants to read a five page autobiographical dissertation on every minute detail of your career.  Resume writing is not an exact science and there is no "one size fits all" template for your resume, but a professional resume writer can objectively strategize on what to include in your resume as well as the overall length.
Signs Your Resume is Outdated #3: I Have an Objective and I Want a Job
Having a section devoted to your objective is possibly more obvious than listing that you have references available upon request.  "No, really? You are seeking a job?!?  Is that why you sent me your resume?"  Hiring managers are much more interested in what you can do for them then what they can do for you.  If you feel the need to explain why you are applying to a job, find a way to do it in your cover letter and save the space on your resume for listing your favorite ways to goof off at work! (Extreme sarcasm here.)  A certified resume writer is adept at formatting and precisely wording your resume to work best for you and your situation.

Update: See more on resume objectives in this January 2011 article. 
Signs Your Resume is Outdated #4: But I Really Like Using 1980s Word Processors
More than 500 million people are using Microsoft Word today (1) so it would be a good assumption that you should email your resume as a Word attachment.  There are other word processing software on the market today and I still - on occasion - have a client who is using Word Perfect, Notepad, or Lotus Notes.  It makes sharing documents very difficult and worst of all - the client is not seeing or receiving the high-quality document I have created.

So for all of you holdouts using another other than a Microsoft Word version released in the last decade, I have strong advice for you...Get Microsoft Word!  Alternatively, has a freeware program that has a Word-compatible word processing application, Writer.  Though I have never used this program there are three things that immediately appeal to me about it.  First, it's free (hello!).  Second, it can open MS Word .DOC files and can save to .DOC files.  Third, it has out-of-the-box ability to export your documents to an Adobe PDF file.

I prefer sending a PDF version of a resume via email.  A PDF document is neater and no matter how much formatting you have built into your resume, it will show up perfectly on the recipient's machine.  Your resume will look just the way you want it to regards of the hiring manager's computer settings, Word version, or font inventory.  Saving your document in PDF format is the only way to ensure your resume will be displayed exactly the way you intended it to be.
Signs Your Resume is Outdated #5: I am Listing Every Job I've Ever Had
Please see my blog articles, Years of Experience and Dealing with Age for more detail on this topic.  A resume doesn't need (nor should it) a listing of every single job you've had since graduating from college.  You want your resume to showcase your relevant experience, skill set, and value.  Only include relevant jobs in the past 10-15 years depending on the level of positions you plan to pursue.  Expound on the measurable accomplishments in those jobs and avoid a detailed, day-by-day, to do list of tasks and duties.
Signs Your Resume is Outdated: Does Your Resume Contain Any of The 5 Signs?
If your resume is showing any of these signs of being outdated, it is high time for a makeover! The job of your resume is to land you an interview in order that, ultimately, you get a new job.  An outdated, ill-formatted, poorly written resume is not effective in doing its job and can be detrimental to your career and job search campaign.  Whether you are an attorney, sales manager, nurse, pharmacist, financial adviser, a teacher, or any other occupation - your expertise might not be in resume writing.  I'll leave the nursing and financial advising to you, if you can leave the resume writing to the professionals.

Contracting with a professional resume writer is a wise investment in your career.  Save yourself hours of grief and let the professionals take care of your resume. You only get one chance to make that first impression so make it count!

Ramsey Penegar is an executive resume consultant and is certified as a professional resume writer by the Professional Association of Resume Writers.  She has developed more than 575 resumes for executives all over the United States and for international clients as well.  With more than 10 years experience in marketing and sales, she has the skills to build effective job search marketing campaigns and attention-getting resumes.



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