You’ve spent hours and hours toiling over your resume. And then you wait. And you wait some more. If you’re not getting invited for interviews, several things could be happening. Your job search strategy might not be working. Your targeted industry might be uber-competitive. Your resume might have gotten lost in cyberspace. Or your resume might be a little out of date.
Here are five signs that your resume might be outdated according to a Professional Resume Writer as well as simple strategies to update it so you stand out as a candidate and land an interview faster.
1. You’re using a generic objective statement.
Unless you’re making a big career change, the general rule of thumb is to ditch the objective statement and write a targeted, keyword-rich professional summary instead. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re targeting an instructional technology position in the K-12 school setting. You could write the following objective statement:
“Seeking a position as an instructional technologist where I can utilize my communication and technical skills and grow in the field.”
Or you can write the following targeted professional summary:
“Seasoned educator with 15+ years of experience in teaching and administrative roles. Proven track record of successfully integrating technology to accelerate learning outcomes for diverse student populations.”
As you can see from the examples, using a targeted professional summary is much more effective than a vague objective.
2. You’re writing “duties include” when describing your experience.
Using phrases like “duties include,” “work tasks” and similar passive language is a major sign that your resume needs some serious remodeling. You want to show and not tell. It sounds simple, but it’s not.
It’s easy to cut and paste duties from the job description onto your resume. But it takes time to think about how you specifically performed those tasks and what sets you apart from the thousands of other (insert position title) out there.
Research shows that recruiters spend an average of about seven seconds scanning resumes. To quickly communicate the “wow factor” when describing your experience, start your phrases with action verbs such as delegated, managed, oversaw, and facilitated. Next, describe what you accomplished or a problem you solved and include any key metrics. For example:
“Developed new technical training protocol in less than one month, increasing efficiency by roughly 50%.”
3. You’re not including your LinkedIn URL on your resume.
A recent study showed that more than 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn regularly. If you’re not making it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to access your LinkedIn profile, or if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile (gulp), you’re automatically removing yourself from the applicant pool.
Once you create your LinkedIn account, make sure to join professional and alumni groups to build and leverage your network. You should also include a professional headshot — the same study also cited that profiles with professional headshots get 14 times more profile views.
4. Your job history is looking historical.
If you have positions dating past ten years, it’s probably time to do some editing. Unless these old positions relate to your current career objective, it’s best to leave them off your resume. Focus on highlighting your most recent, relevant work experience.
If you’ve got dated experience that relates to your current career objective, you can either highlight relevant skills in a “Highlights of Skills & Qualifications” section at the beginning of your resume above your work history, or you can list it under a category titled something like “Additional Relevant Experience.”
5. You list “references available upon request.”
This is probably the single most outdated phrase on the resume. But I still see applicants list it all the time. If an employer wants to check your references, they will do so later in the application or hiring process. Usually, after the first or second interview, if the employer is seriously considering you for the job, they will ask you to provide several references.
If you want to get ahead of the game, start gathering LinkedIn recommendations and see if current or former colleagues can act as references. Try to ask colleagues who know you well and who you know will write you a detailed, thoughtful recommendation.
Updating your resume periodically, although time-consuming, will pay dividends in your job search process. If you write a succinct, targeted, keyword-rich resume you will greatly increase your chances of landing an interview for that high-paying job you're seeking.
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