3 Things You Must Understand if You Haven’t Needed a Resume in Years

3 Things You Must Understand if You Haven’t Needed a Resume in Years

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I often work with clients facing the prospect of writing a resume for the first time in years, sometimes decades.

They’ve always been recruited into their past jobs or at least heard about opportunities through colleagues and former managers.

Sound familiar?

If it’s been years since you’ve been on the job hunt or needed to circulate a resume, it is critical to get up-to-speed about how resume writing, and reading, has changed.

1. Print Reading is Out (at the beginning) and Online Reading Is In

Don’t count on your resume being printed out – at least not until further along in the interview process. Rather, your resume will be read on a screen as large as that of a full desktop monitor or as small as that of your mobile phone.

Resumes written for print are tough to read online – and often don’t make the cut during first-round reads. Why? We all read quite differently online than in print. Screen reading is much tougher on the eye than print reading, and small screen reading is by far the toughest.

By writing your resume to appeal to screens of all sizes, you can help to facilitate reading. Here’s how:

  • Get rid of dense blocks of text. Dense text can mean a 6-line paragraph or even several one-line bullets. Replace these with bullets or paragraphs no more than 2- to 3-lines long.
  • Include White Space. Just a half-inch (or .5 point) on MS Word in between your paragraphs and bullets make all the difference in terms of increasing online readability.

In addition, color, bold and italics go a long way toward drawing and keeping the reader’s attention. Would you ever be drawn to a black-and-white website lacking any visual formatting? Likely not. Same goes with resumes.

2. You Have Seconds, Not Minutes, to Make an Impression

Just like you, screeners, recruiters and hiring managers are juggling multiple balls in the air. I’ve yet to hear of a reader having all the time in the world to review resumes.

Your resume has seconds, according to The Ladders study, to impress. Can you or a friend quickly identify achievements, the kinds of roles for which you are targeting, and how you can make an impact or solve pain? By including these 3 sections – the response will be yes.


A solid branding paragraph, or summary section, has long replaced the circa 2000 objective statement. This paragraph must give the reader clarity as to how you are ideally suited for a role.

When I write resumes, I replace descriptive adjectives with facts and figures unique to my clients, and I help readers connect the dots by weaving in key phrasing that appears on job postings of interest.


Key Skills are not about soft-skill terms like “Motivational Leadership” but rather are the areas of expertise you have mastered to be successful.

For instance, an IT Executive’s key skills might include terms like C-Level Presentations, P&L Management, ERP Implementations, Applications Development and Vendor Negotiations


Readers in a rush are more interested in what you’ve accomplished than understanding your role’s responsibilities. They are looking for quick ways to glean the bottom line impact of your success.

By quantifying your achievements, rather than outlining your responsibilities, the reader can readily grasp what you did for your former companies, and how this past success can benefit them.

3. Goodbye Blueprint, Hello Brochure

By the time you’ve got 15-20+ years of experience under your belt, your earlier experiences are not as critical to your current aspirations. At the very least they don’t need as much explaining as the past 10-15 years.

Go into detail about the last 15 years or so, and synopsize earlier roles under an “Additional Experience” header (you can even remove the dates). This will help you avoid the perception of being out of date, and help to keep your resume to two pages.  Must longer than that and you risk losing the attention of that rushed reader.

Also read: Resume Mistakes: 3 Ways You’re Burying the Lead

Has it been years since you last tackled resume writing? Your best shot at success incorporates an understanding of how today’s online, skim readers will review yours.

Virginia Franco
About the Author
Virginia Franco

Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW is the founder of Virginia Franco Resumes which offers customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker.

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