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Outdated Resume and Cover Letter Rules

By Jeremy Cyrus 03/06/2014
Outdated Resume and Cover Letter Rules

Some cover letter and resume "rules" are more flexible than others. And even those that seem unbreakable often change with time. Here are a few tried and true resume details that may have been part of every job seeker's toolkit a few decades ago, but are now being called into question. In some cases, these moves are not only unnecessary, but can actually hold your search back. Think carefully before you take them to heart.

1. Formal Greetings

A generation ago, cover letters often began with greetings like "To Whom it May Concern" and "Dear Sir or Madam". Give these stilted greetings a rest. Begin your letter with the addressee's first and last name if you know what it is, as in "Dear Sally Jackson". If you don't have a name, use the name of the company, as in "Dear Qualco Inc," or "Dear Qualco HR Staff".

Objective Statements
Formal resumes once began with a statement of the applicant's intentions, rather than a summary of her qualifications. The older model told readers what the applicant wanted. The updated version lets readers know what the applicant has to offer. Just as important, modern summaries help hiring managers by providing an encapsulated version of the information in the rest of the document.

2. Printed Versions

Older resumes were usually printed out and sent by mail, rather than email. So they could contain color and formatting quirks without any concern about how these layout decisions appeared on the receiving end. Modern resumes need to take formatting into account, and should be created in updated versions of Word or PDF files. (You'll still need to take a few hard copies of your resume with you to your interview, and these should be printed on heavy resume-grade paper.)

3. Length

Older resumes and cover letters were often longer then modern versions. If possible, try to keep your documents shorter than two pages each. Turn to Free Resume Builder for editing and formatting tools that can keep your message streamlined, professional, and up-to-date.

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