Modernize Your Resume! Tips for the 21st Century

February 21, 2017 Louise Kursmark

When Wendy Enelow and I sat down to write our latest resume book (MODERNIZE YOUR RESUME: Get Noticed ... Get Hired), we identified 6 specific hallmarks of a modern resume. Those hallmarks seemed pretty obvious to us—but then, we spend just about all of our working lives writing, editing, reviewing, and thinking about resumes!

If you'd like to keep up with the times, ask yourself if your resume meets these 6 standards.

The modern resume is:

  1. Clear and concise, written and designed to appeal to today's readers. How we read today is fundamentally different from the way we read a decade or so ago! If your resume is bland, text-dense, and difficult to skim, there's 100% chance that you will quickly lose your readers' interest.
  2. Laser focused to your job targets. If your resume doesn't make you seem to be an ideal candidate for your target job, it's likely to be passed over in favor of someone who checks all of the employer's boxes.
  3. Rich with keywords that resonate with employers. Keywords count for human readers as well as for electronic scanners! Keywords are the language of your profession. Make sure you are using them liberally and appropriately throughout your resume.
  4. Specific in describing achievements rather than general capabilities. General statements of what you can do are much less powerful than specific statements of what you have done. Achievements are memorable, meaningful, and unique to you.
  5. Contemporary in appearance and visually distinctive. You don't need to be a graphic designer, nor have a crazy-creative resume. But appearance does matter, so make sure that your resume does not appear dowdy, dated, or indistinguishable from many other resumes.
  6. Linked to email, online profiles, websites, and social media. We live in a hyperlinked world! Make it easy for anyone interested to click through to learn more about you or get in touch immediately.

If your resume meets all of these hallmarks, congratulations! If not, take the time to bring it up to date and get your job search up to speed. We live in a fast-paced world where "yes" or "no" decisions are made in a heartbeat.