Just like there are trends in fashion, there are trends in writing resumes and cover letters, too.
The modern resume is more relaxed and less formal than its predecessors, and focuses more on results than duties. It's friendlier and more personal, and looks more polished.
As someone who reads thousands of resumes a year, I see number of common resume phrases that are holdovers from more formal times.
These are words that leave the impression of someone who hasn't kept up — which usually means doesn't sound like someone to hire — and so I offer this modern resume help:
Start by losing these seven out-of-date resume words and phrases.
Objectives have faded from use, and are now the mark of a not-so-modern resume. What has replaced them is something far more powerful: target jobs and positioning statements. Knowing that you are a Marketing Manager for Technology and Biotech says what you bring to a company, rather than outlining your expectations, which are not really the company's concern.
"Responsibilities included but were not limited to…"
A resume is not a legal contract, and no one expects you to give a disclaimer because you didn't list every little thing you did. Just give a summary of your role and then list a few of the most important and pertinent things you did. Don't overwhelm with too much detail.
"Consistently met and exceeded goals…"
That might be technically accurate, but it's so boring it drags your great accomplishment down with it. Bring some life to your story with something more engaging like Never missed a quota and beat sales targets every month by up to 45%, which sounds far more energetic and confident.
"20+ Years of Experience in…"
In the past, it was popular to emphasize years of experience, but now it just looks old-fashioned to count your years. Modern companies are interested in what you can do, and long experience is not always valued. The best resumes and cover letters focus on what you do and what you have to offer, rather than how many years you've done it.
"Self-Starter, Excellent Communication Skills, Team Player."
I'm a big fan of including descriptive words that give a taste of your personality and work style, but these resume phrases are overused and trite, so avoid them. Find more interesting words, and better still, in your resume, help people picture these skills in action by talking about the project you started, written in a way that highlights those awesome communications skills, with job descriptions that include collaborative work.
Faxes are rarely used in business now, and if an employer has something a legal document they need to fax you, they'll ask for the number. The only contact information you need to include on your resume is your cell phone and your email, and a home number if your cell isn't dependable.
"References Available On Request"
We know you'll give references if asked. You should gather your list of references and their contacts in advance so they're ready, but no need to waste precious space stating the obvious in your resume and cover letter. Instead, the modern resume should include the link to your LinkedIn profile, where the reader should find all kinds of recommendations for you.
Here's some more modern resume help for you, and more about cover notes: