Deborah Walker

Does Your Résumé Need an Extreme Makeover?

Tips on determining when you need one and how to go about doing it.

May 15, 2008
by Deborah Walker, CCMC

If you're a CPA or finance exec of the baby boomer generation and you're looking for a new career, you may be getting the cold shoulder from employers. Your hair may be saying "under 40" but recruiters put your résumé in the geriatric-reject pile. If you're feeling symptoms of age discrimination, your résumé could be working against you, making you seem out-of-date and one step from retirement.

Here are three reasons your résumé may be keeping you out of interviews. Your résumé is due for an update if:

  1. Your technology skills date you from the Stone Age
  2. Your key industry words are decades old
  3. Your résumé format doesn't follow current trends

Extreme Résumé Makeover Tips Uncovered

Don't despair if your résumé is out of date. You can perform an extreme résumé makeover by using the following tips.

1. Get current on your industry's technology

Be aware that technology terms are often used as keywords to filter the best résumés from electronic databases. If your résumé doesn't have them, it may never be seen. Make sure your technology skills aren't leaving you behind.

Check job descriptions from various sources within your industry to see which technology skills employers are looking for. Then decide what you need to learn or do in order to fill that technology gap. Adult education, college classes or even online learning are all great ways to catch up.

2. Make sure your résumé reflects current terminology

If you have just been adding to the same old résumé over the years your early entries reflect outdated key words. Bring your résumé up to date with the help of publications from your industry's professional associations. If you don't belong to any professional associations, you might be missing out on the latest industry-speak.

Another good resource for current terminology is online job postings. Search job descriptions in your field for recurring key words. Learn to use the current terminology for your industry for optimum results.

3. Make sure your résumé reflects today's trends in résumé format and style

A decade ago, the reverse-chronological format probably worked fine for you. But now that you have more experience, it may not be your best choice. The more advanced hybrid format will showcase your skills and expertise to your optimum advantage. With a hybrid résumé, potential employers will form an impression of you based on your top accomplishments, not just your most recent job description.

Why Old Résumé Rules Don't Apply

Many of the old résumé rules just don't apply anymore. For example:

  • Limit your résumé to one page. This idea went out with the advent of electronic résumés. Nothing is harder on the eyes than trying to read a three-page résumé squished onto one page.
  • Your résumé should go back no more than 10 years. Don't use an arbitrary number to determine how much to include on your résumé. Ask yourself, "how far back does my work history relate to my current objective?"
  • One résumé should handle everything. Not so! For greater effectiveness adjust your résumé to different functions or industries you'd like to explore.


Make sure you use the correct electronic version. You'll want to have (1) a standard Word format (for printouts and e-mail attachments) and (2) a Plain Text version for "text only" online forms.

Give your résumé an extreme makeover using these tips to let your wealth of experience work for you rather than against you. You'll see increased requests for interviews leading to your best career opportunity ever.

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Deborah Walker, Certified Career Management Coach, is uniquely qualified to help job seekers find better employment. Her background as former executive recruiter and veteran career coach provides an insider's perspective on résumé writing, job-search strategy and interview coaching. Learn more résumé and job-search tips available at: http://www.AlphaAdvantage.com.