Evolving technology and preferences mean the way you need to put together your résumé has changed. The smallest detail can make your résumé look out-of-date — or worse, imply that you’re out of touch with the needs of the hiring organization or recruiter.
Advanced technology is the main reason résumés have changed. “Résumés have evolved to become more easily readable on computer and phone screens,” says Donna Svei, an executive résumé writer, LinkedIn profile writer and career coach. “If you design a résumé that has to be printed to be read, you’re likely to get left behind.”
But technology isn’t the only way résumés have changed. Here are five common résumé mistakes to keep an eye out for.
Recruiters who read your résumé want more information than just what you were expected to do — they want to know how you did it and the results you got. Describing job responsibilities without describing the related accomplishments is an older way of résumé writing — and one that will turn recruiters off.
“Recruiters are pressed for time, so they want to know what makes you great right away,” Svei says. “If they have to ask for your accomplishments, you’re less likely to hear from them.” Use specific examples, such as “increased sales by 15% in one quarter” rather than “was responsible for northern sales district.”
Résumé design has evolved as well. Paragraphs that go on for more than three or four lines of text look outdated, Svei says. “This is because résumés are often read on phones, which have narrower fields of vision than computers do,” she says. “Thus, a paragraph will consume many more lines on a phone than it does on a computer screen.“
Keep chunks of text to just a couple of sentences to ensure the reader gets the information they need. If you’re not sure whether your paragraphs are short enough, view your résumé on a smartphone to see how it might look to a recruiter.
The formatting choices you make can make your résumé easier to scan — or can bog the reader down and discourage them from continuing. Bullet points are common to draw the reader’s eye to important information, and a lack of bullet points looks old-fashioned, Svei says. She recommends using a couple of lines to describe the role, and then bullet points to highlight accomplishments.
Other outdated formats include using multiple columns of text. “Contemporary résumés use one column of text with 1.25″ margins on each side,” she says. Narrow side margins also look outdated, and you should use only one space after a period. “Double-spacing after a period was a convention in the typewriter age, but not in the computer age.”
Even your choice of typeface can make your résumé look less than fresh. “Avoid Times New Roman from the typewriter age and Arial from the early computer age,” Svei says. “Calibri is a safe bet.” When used at 11 point, it yields a two-page résumé of 700 to 750 words, she says. “That’s an amount of content that has tested as optimal for most résumés.”
Finally, leave out personal information that just isn’t needed, Svei says. This can include your street address, marital or parental status, and hobbies and interests. “Changes in how we communicate, laws, and how much information we all have to process every day have driven these changes,” Svei says. Let your accomplishments speak for themselves, so the recruiter can make a decision based on what your skills are, not what you like to do in your free time.