7 Mistakes That Make Your Professional Resume - And You - Look Old

Amanda Augustine (The Ladders)

An article that is relevant to those who need to polish their resume and have a lengthy job history.


Are your job applications saying the wrong thing about you?

Resumes, like many other marketing materials, have an expiration date. As technology changes and the job-search process becomes more mobile, it’s important to reevaluate and edit your resume periodically. Your resume is a reflection of you – and you don’t want recruiters thinking you’re outdated because your document is. Here’s how to know if your resume needs an update.

It’s become too long

An eye-tracking study by The Ladders found that the average recruiter spends only six seconds reviewing a resume before deciding if it’s worth a closer inspection. Maximize your exposure by limiting your resume to one page if you’re new to the workforce or two pages if you’re a seasoned professional. Remember, your resume should always highlight the skills, experience, and accomplishments that are most relevant to your job goals.

You want employers to call home

In this mobile age, it’s more important than ever to be accessible whenever a recruiter wants to contact you. As a result, I recommend that you list your cell phone number, rather than your home phone number, on your resume. Not only will you be able maintain contact during your (and the recruiter’s) workday, but you’ll also have control over the voicemail, who picks up the phone and when.

You haven’t included the URL to your professional profile

According to a Jobvite survey, 93 percent of recruiters are likely to look at a job candidate’s social profile. Include the URLs to your online professional profiles so recruiters don’t have to guess or mistake you for someone else. Make sure your online profiles and resume tell the same story so you don’t send mixed messages to the recruiter.

Your resume has an objective instead of a professional summary

Objective statements describe your needs, rather than how you’ll meet the needs of an employer. Use the space to sell your job candidacy by giving the reader your elevator pitch. In three to five sentences, explain what you’re best at, most interested in, and how you can provide value to a prospective employer. In a resume, this is called your professional summary.

Your resume is weighed down by too many bullets or dense blocks of text (or both)

If you have six seconds to catch a recruiters’ eye, you need to make them count. Avoid dense blocks of text or long bulleted lists. The key is to format the information in a way that makes it easy to scan quickly to recognize your job goals and relevant qualifications and achievements.

You’ve included too much of the past

Employers are especially interested in your most recent experience and how that ties back to their open position’s requirements. If you’re an entry-level professional, it’s time to take out any references to your high school career. Instead, focus on highlighting your education, relevant internships and the leadership skills you’ve developed during college.  If you’re further along in your career, limit your resume to include the most recent 15 years of experience in reverse-chronological order and remove the dates from any degrees, certifications or awards that fall outside that 15-year window.

You’re still putting “references upon request”

Employers are well aware that you’ll provide them with references, should they ask for them during the interview process. There’s no reason to waste this valuable space on your resume by stating the obvious. Remember, you only have two pages’ worth of resume real estate to work with – save it for the information that is most compelling.