Rules of Modern Resumes

Rules Of The Modern Resume

The rules of modern resumes can be tricky. Has your resume stood the test of time? If you haven’t updated your resume in the past few years, I can guarantee it hasn’t.

The rules of modern resumes.

I get so many client calls cautioning me that they haven’t updated their resumes for at least ten years! Formatting has changed, applicant tracking software has changed, our world has changed. Long gone are the days of hitting the pavement with your paper resume in hand. Almost every job recruiter posts their open positions on a job website and filters resumes through the website’s tracking tools. For more information on ATS tracking check out our article on how your resume can beat the applicant tracking systems.

Rules For Modern Resumes: Length

Your resume is not measured by its length but by its depth. Many applicants want to jam their resumes full of fluff and unnecessary information. The problem with that is, you have a very limited window to make an impression. If recruiters are wading through fluff and redundancies, they will not give your resume any attention; it will go straight to the recycling bin. The solution to the size issue is simple, keep your resume length between one and two pages. If you’ve got enough experience, absolutely expand it onto that second page.

Rules For Modern Resumes: Formatting

Modern resumes are concise and must withstand the applicant tracking system. Funky formatting with tables, off-beat expressions, or excessive bullet points will not survive. To optimize your modern resume, remember K.I.S.S. Keep It Super Simple.

Start by trimming the fat and removing your references. If recruiters require references, they will request them. Next, remove your objective statement. Recruiters are not interested in what you want. They want to know why they should hire you, what they get out of it. Instead of an objective statement, include a career summary or headline section. Career summaries are akin to an elevator pitch and encourage recruiters to keep reading about you.

Remember our earlier conversation about length? Well, that also applies to the experience section. It’s not necessary to go back 30 years to the jobs you had in high school. Keep your experience section relevant and limit it to the past 15 years if applicable. Keep the information consistent with the job for which you’re applying.  

Wrap up your resume with an education and certifications section. And, please do not include your GPA. Recruiters don’t care about your GPA. They do care about honors you received, relevant clubs, and awards.

Rules For Modern Resumes: Keywords

Keywords are essential for your modern resume. For example, recruiters search through their submitted resumes for specific keywords or phrases to find their ideal candidate. Optimize your resume to include keywords or phrases to avoid the recycling bin.

Include keywords with strategy, don’t just stuff them in there. Research the job you’re interested in and include keywords that matter. Include them organically in your experience. You can also include a skills section in your headline.


The rules of modern resumes can be tricky, and modern job hunting can seem weird if you haven’t done it for a few years. Just remember these three things: optimize your keywords, focus on what you can do for the employer, and keep it simple. Find out more information on modern resumes here.

Published by Liz Southers

Liz Southers, the founder, and CEO of The Fine Print was born to be a writer. She is a sought-after writing and marketing expert in South Florida for resumes, cover letters, blog writing, press releases, grant writing, and ghostwriting. Her work portfolio includes press releases for Keller Williams Real Estate, The Keyes Company Real Estate, The University of Florida Food and Agricultural Sciences, Florida Oceanographic Society, and Thrivent Financial, with publishings by the F*** Heroin Foundation, TC Palm, and Liz loves living in Stuart, Florida, and is happy to call it her forever home. She lives with her husband James, their sons Wesley and Brody, dog Mae, cat Luna and pet pigs Mojo and Amelia. (754) 208-7024

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