Your Resume Has Wrinkles: 9 Features That Make Your Resume “Old”

Make sure your resume looks fresh and modern. You don’t want to look like a proverbial dinosaur to prospective employers and recruiters. Your resume is a representation of you to a recruiter or prospective employer, so don’t make a first impression that looks old-fashioned and outdated.

Here are the 9 of the biggest red flags that will instantly make your resume appear antiquated:

The “One Page Rule”

Don’t spend countless hours trying to squeeze a decade or two of valuable experience onto a single sheet of paper. The worst thing you can do is try to make the font smaller or eliminate space between lines. If you do, your resume will be too hard to read. In this case, the best way to gain extra space is to decrease the margins. Use 1/2 an inch instead of an inch.

The good news is that the one-page resume no longer rules, as today’s hiring manager is more likely to scroll down on a screen than flip to the next page. In fact, for experienced professionals a two-page resume is the most common format. There are obvious exceptions, such as recent graduates and entry-level applicants who can easily fit all of their experience on one page without sacrifice. For seasoned pros, however, even three- and four-page resumes are not uncommon and are acceptable today.

Using Ancient Fonts

A “font” is the style and shape of the words on your resume. The right fonts are modern and easy to read. The wrong fonts are ancient and difficult to read. The right fonts are Arial, Calibri and Helvetica. The more “old-school” fonts are Times New Roman and anything else too fancy. If your resume is entered in Times New Roman font, like many of us do, change it to Arial. You’ll be amazed at how much cleaner, more modern and more professional it looks.

Writing in Paragraphs Instead of Bullet Points

Your resume is an outline, not a novel. Use bullet points to highlight your experience and education, with short sentences or phrases. Don’t write in long block paragraphs that tell a story. Doing so makes your resume much harder for a human to “scan” quickly, and is likely to cause your resume to be thrown into the rejected pile.

Using a Street Address

Including a City and State is fine, but there is no reason to include your actual street address. The employer isn’t going to be notifying you of an interview by snail mail.Skipping the street address is good for you for two reasons. It helps prevent both identity theft and junk mail. Since many job ads are from companies that choose not to reveal their names, you never know who you’re sending your resume to, so skip the street address and keep yourself protected.

Not Including an Email Address

Yes, you may have emailed your resume to the recruiter, but it’s still important to have your email address on your resume, as well as your phone number. Listing an email is not just for the recruiter’s convenience. It says, “Yes, I am part of the modern world, please hire me.”

Using an Objective instead of a Summary

Objectives are out and Summaries are in. The reason is an Objective tells the employer what you want. A Summary tells the employer who you are and what you can do for them. Your Summary should be about 2 or 3 sentences that state what job you are applying for, and a brief explanation of your career highlights. You should be able to read your summary section out loud in 30 seconds or less.

Ignoring Keywords

Resumes are scanned by computers as often as they are read by humans. The software is designed to scan resumes for the keywords chosen by the employer. If you don’t have the right keywords, your resume never gets selected to be read by a real human. There are two ways to manage keywords. The easy way is simply to include a keyword section (although perhaps call it “Core Competency”).

The harder but better way of using keywords is to place them throughout your resume in the descriptions of your work and school experience. It’s more natural, and will score better with the actual human recruiter.

The secret to knowing the right keywords is that they are usually in the job ad. If you see a list of skills required, a certain educational degree, or specific licenses or other qualifications, those are all keywords. Any unique words could be keywords, but phrases like “strong work ethic” are never keywords.

Stating Obvious Computer Skills

Don’t list common technology on your resume. We all know how to use Microsoft Word, Windows, Internet Explorer, Twitter and Facebook. We all know how to use an email program. For upper-level applicants, it is already inferred that you possess the entry-level technical skills that were needed to successfully rise through the ranks. Listing them would unnecessarily lend your overall presentation a lower-level feel, which you would obviously want to avoid.

References Available Upon Request

Of course they are. References were more important before the internet became everybody’s reference. Google is always willing to give you a reference, for better or worse. It goes without saying that you are going to provide references if a prospective employer requests them.


For this post YouTern thanks our friends at FreshTransition!


This post was previously published on and has been reprinted with permission. Founded in 2005 at Harvard, Stanford and MIT, Doostang was created with one goal in mind: to successfully advance ambitious young professionals in their careers. Doostang offers its members the opportunity to search thousands of high-quality, highly relevant job opportunities, and tools to leverage their inside connection to get hired. Follow Doostang on Twitter!


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