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The 21st Century Resume- The Future is Now

The 21st Century Resume

Full disclosure- I’m not a millennial.  When I put together my first resume and started looking for a job, “social media” consisted of the group chat “party lines” where you dialed in from the phone connected to your wall, and the only mobile phone I owned was a flip phone that required a special clip to keep it attached to my belt.  We now live in an age where people can apply to jobs on their smartphones, FaceTime/ Skype interviews can be done anywhere, with anyone, no matter the distance; and the savvy professional updates their LinkedIn profile to ensure that they don’t need a resume.  So what does that mean to a person open to new opportunities?  Do you need a resume?

The short answer is yes.  Most LinkedIn profiles I see don’t have the level of detail that a hiring manager wants to see.  And, although there is always the possibility of being offered a job out of the blue due to your connections, if you really want to break out of your comfort zone and find something new you’ll have to put together a summary of your career successes to introduce yourself to potential employers and make the first impression memorable. However, putting together a resume document without realizing how technology has changed is a surefire way to have your resume deleted and sent to the Recycling Bin icon on the manager’s desktop.  So, here are a few 21st century “resume rules” that should you should keep in mind to help your resume look the way you want it to.


Technology is awesome.  Resume databases of today can import electronic documents, automatically determine a person’s name, address, current company, relevant keywords, and also automatically populate an email address.  Awesome right!!  Yeah science!!

Ask your HR friends how many candidates in their databases are named “Curriculum Vitae” or “Resume”.  Or better yet, resumes that have great skills and awesome accomplishments but zero contact information.  Since the software programs that HR departments use have yet to achieve Skynet levels of artificial intelligence you run a risk if your resume is formatted differently.  There is no need to tile your resume “CV” or “Resume”, especially if you’ve saved the file with one of those words.  Never put your name and contact information in a “Header” on your resume as software programs typically don’t pick up that information and a recruiter will be left bemoaning the fact that they can’t call their perfect candidate.

Finally, try your best to avoid resume writing templates as most are incompatible with resume import programs.

21st Century Strategy: If you must use a template/ resume writing program to get your thoughts on paper, highlight the information (hit “CTRL A”) copy the information and paste it to a new document using the “Keep Text Only” function.  Adjust that document until the formatting is correct and then you’ll be ready to roll. 


The unfortunate truth is that I’ve seen too many well written cover letters attached to an email, never to be opened by the HR manager, or the hiring manager, or anyone.  They’re just not needed.  Cover Letters were created in the era of snail mail applications and fax machines to let the manager know which job you were applying to.  Nowadays, if you click on a link to a job online, it automatically sends your resume to the appropriate folder in the recipient’s email or notifies them in the Subject line what job you applied to.

21st Century Strategy: If you want to add an introduction to your resume to highlight your relevant skills- make the text of the email your cover letter! Use the email to talk about relevant successes so that the manager is excited to open the attachment.  That will give you the best shot of being noticed.


I remember stressing out at Office Depot, trying to find the brightest white, most professional looking resume paper ever created so that my resume would shine like a beacon of light in the pile of mediocrity on the hiring manager’s desk.  It had to be thicker than typing paper but couldn’t be too think as that would be obnoxious.  But more importantly- it HAD to be one page!  Managers had limited time and didn’t want to have it wasted looking at a two-page resume.  That one piece of paper was going to be the difference between the job of my dreams and being skipped over for some obviously lesser qualified hack.

Does anyone know if Office Depot still sells resume paper?  We order all our supplies online so I have no idea.  In related news – managers rarely print off resumes nowadays.  We double click the attachment and start scrolling; in that situation it’s not noticeable if 2 or 3 pages go by.  While I’m not saying you need a 10 page “Curriculum Vitae”, limiting your resume to a page will only hurt you in the long run.  More important is to make sure you’re adding in the relevant skills and experiences to show the manager you’re worth the interview.

21st Century Strategy: Use Bullet Points!  Short sentences with pertinent information make an impact.  Plus, by eliminating the need for transition sentences means your resume will be shorter in the long run.


Lots of resumes out there read like an HR job description. “Handle X”, “Maintain Y”, “Provide Z”… etc. etc.  This does two things- it makes a really long resume that is short on actual relevant information.  Nothing is more frustrating than a manager reading a high-level description of responsibilities that are so generic as to be worthless

Most managers understand that some core skills are common to a role within a company.  Underwriters underwrite and bind business, claims adjusters work with claimants to provide customer service and settle claims; you don’t need to put that on a resume.  Instead, put on the resume what differentiates you.  For insurance professionals, commercial vs. personal experience, lines of coverage, size of accounts, customers/ territories/ premiums dealt with, settlement authority, litigated case experience.  That’s what manager’s want to see to help them decide whether or not to grant you an interview.

21st Century Strategy:  As recruiters, we recommend putting together a “FAB” sheet- “Feature” (Job & Position), followed by “Accomplishments” (marketing & sales successes, people managed, efficiencies created, etc.), and lastly “Benefits” (Give numbers! Quantify the impact you made for your company!).  With this information on your resume you will easily distinguish your resume from the others being looked at help the manager to see the value you’ve brought to your prior employers. 


Let’s kick it old school for a second.  No dates on a resume?  Could mean bad tenure.  Misspellings? Using present tense when describing your responsibilities 5 years ago?  This person must not have an attention to detail.  Leaving prior employers off your resume?  This person must have something to hide.

Here’s the unfortunate truth, hiring managers have a tendency to go to the “bad place” if they have to fill in blanks on your resume.  So, don’t’ give them the opportunity to do so.  Make sure that your resume gives a thorough (and concise!) summary of your background and there aren’t any glaring holes in your resume.

21st Century Strategy: Take irrelevant jobs (during college or non-industry related) off your resume; focus on the ones after graduation or since you’ve been in the industry.  If your work history goes more than 15+ years into the past and you’re concerned about making your resume too long, at the very bottom of your resume list out the additional companies/ positions you’ve held with a note that you can discuss those accomplishments in the interview.  List the months and years of employment next to the positions you’ve held to show your career progression.

Are resumes still relevant?  YES!  Having a document that you share with a hiring manager allows you to find positions that you otherwise would not have access to.  More importantly, it shows the manager that you’re more than just a job-shopper and that you are serious about finding an opportunity that is right for you.  Just make sure that your resume skills are keeping up with the times.

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