Transform Resume

How To Transform Your Resume From Vintage To Viral


You may not describe yourself as “vintage,” but your resume and social media profiles may be giving off a vintage vibe. Do you love soft vintage jeans? You know, the kind that are reminiscent of the past, but somehow give off a vogue style. A vintage resume is a totally different thing. Vintage in the career world can handcuff you to a stale employment situation, one that is in dire need of a complete makeover. What can do you do to break free and launch into a fulfilling career?

How To Transform Your Resume In 6 Steps

Give your resume a face lift with these six easy steps:

1. Change The Look And Feel

In the past, resumes were initially viewed on paper. Fonts like Times New Roman were easier to read on paper. Today, resumes are almost always read online. Sans serif fonts are more easily read on a screen. These fonts are great choices: Calibri, Gautomi, or Verdana.

Styles are more sophisticated. Integration of color in the category headers, bullets, or border add interest. In years past people might have included graphics and logos on a resume to call attention to certifications. Today, resumes are scanned by ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) and graphics can be garbled; in some cases boot a resume from consideration. Skip the logo graphics.

How about the feel? Nothing cries vintage like a paper resume sent via U.S. Mail or fax! The only time that you need a paper copy of your resume is when you present a resume in a face-to-face interview.

2. Ditch The Physical Address

Keep it simple. Under your name, list your cell number and e-mail – without labeling them “cell” and “e-mail.” Next, list your LinkedIn URL, website URL (if you have a website), and blog URL (if you have a relevant blog). No need for a physical address. Haven’t you heard? The U.S. Postal Service is no longer delivering on Saturday! You don’t need to use ‘snail mail’ to get your resume to someone; similarly, you likely won’t be receiving traditional mail from a future employer. Including a physical address is becoming obsolete.

3. Customize Each Resume

In the past, employees stayed in one occupation for most of their career. At the very least, people remained in positions for multiple years. In that reality, one resume was fine. In today’s market, job seekers must be nimble. People change careers more frequently, manage multiple and diverse responsibilities within a single role, and must be adaptable to technology and market changes. One resume is not enough. Instead create a master resume and customize the resume for each job opportunity.

4. Create A Headline

Start your resume with a headline that captures your personal brand in five to seven words. Follow with a three to four line profile that showcases your value. Did you notice that I said, “target employer?” That’s because you will customize your profile for each target.

Cliché phrases are not only a waste of space in your profile, but they are also unimaginative. Avoid phrases such as “strong verbal and written communication skills,” “motivated,” “proven track record,” “results-oriented,” and “team player.” There is no need to call out the years as in “15 years’ experience.”

5. Include The Right Skills

A core competencies section follows the profile. A simple three-row, three-column listing is a great presentation. You can look at a job posting and incorporate those desired skills in this section. This serves as a checklist for the hiring manager to be sure you have the business skills they need.

6. Show Them Why You’re The Best

The days of long, historical resumes are over. Don’t make the mistake of simply shortening your long resume. It’s not about the length; it’s about the content. Show the scope of your responsibilities and accomplishments for the most recent and relevant 10 to 15 years of your career. Show measured results for each accomplishment.Create a crisp snapshot showing why you are the best.

How will you know that you have included statements that  sell you? Your statements should answer these questions for the reader:

  • What have you done before that demonstrates you will be successful in my company?
  • How did you increase revenue, decrease costs, improve productivity, and enhance customer loyalty?
  • Did get along well with others?

Take some time to update your vintage resume and watch it go viral. Lastly, remember that your resume extends beyond a document. Your LinkedIn profile, as well as, your presence other social media, are derived from your resume content. Release yourself from the handcuffs of your current employment situation by embracing these modern branding and communication strategies. Your fresh approach, responsiveness to change, and ability to embrace ‘what’s hot’ will prevent you from becoming ‘what’s not’!

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Debra Wheatman

Debra Wheatman, president of Careers Done Write, is globally recognized as an expert in advanced career search techniques. She helps clients obtain highly desired interviews for competitive positions.


  1. In tip #4 you mention having used “target employer”, but I see no reference to that in prior sections. I was disappointed to see several errors that should have been caught in editing. Not a great reflection on your writing skills. Thanks though for covering one of my pet peeves, that of identifying one’s phone numbers and email addresses as such. If the reader is too dumb to know the difference, I don’t want to work for them. As far as omitting a physical address, how about compromising with just city and state in case location is important to the employer?

  2. I’m not going to change a word. I have a standard-format resume, gives the basics, who I am, where I been, what I done. If that’s not good enough for you, consider another candidate, because I don’t have time for B.S., and, neither do you. When you figure that out, maybe you’ll consider me. :)

  3. Why are we being deterred from using buzz words/phrases such as “proven record” and “strong written and verbal communication skills” when a significant number of advertisements call for just these skills – or some variant of them? Did recruiting not get the memo?

    • To me, it’s about showing, not telling. Don’t tell me you have a proven record in something – list your accomplishments that SHOW you have a proven record. And it’s easy for someone to say they have strong communication skills – nearly every resume I have reviewed includes some variation of that, so it is meaningless. I want to see examples.

      • @Katie: I see your point. I didn’t realize that a lot of what has been done in the past has been played out until this week. I’ve been wrecking my brain on how to revise my resume because it’s traditional. I’m reading articles about everybody going to a modern style & it terrifies me. However, what you’re saying does not. The only thing that concerns me is that if you get an interview, you may find yourself almost quoting your resume. I don’t know what’s best now.

        • Liz, I agree with you. I’ve always thought that your resume should tell the prospective employer what you can do and the interview is where you give real time examples of your skills and abilities.

  4. One good reason to include your physical address is to help separate you from others with the same name during web presence evaluations. I have an uncommon last name with an even more unusual spelling, yet if you do a web search for my name you will find people with the same name, same spelling who are the high school football player of the year in a particular state, a winner of numerous bar tending awards, and a fellow who is very big on riding ATV’s with his guns in sensitive natural areas – none of whom are me. Giving my physical address at least provides an opportunity to sort out which “Scott R” I am.

    Question for the proponents of including a key skills section: Would you recommend toward the top of the resume or after the work history? I have heard both suggestions.

  5. I have just ended a three-month job search, with the job of my dreams. What got me in the door for my all of my interviews was not the resume, but the cover letter. I went against the “flow” and followed my heart about how to get in the door for that critical interview. Rather than focus so much on the resume, I tackled the cover letter. The resume tells about me, what I have done, what I can do. The cover letter tells who I am. I spent 2-3 hours researching each company, then tailored my cover letter to conform with the company and the job description, fleshing out my experience in “stories” that showed who I am. I also left an air of mystery in the story. I didn’t say too much, just gave the recruiter a taste so they would want to know more. Once in that all important door… the rest is history!

    • I love to hear that someone “went with their gut” in regards to the cover letter! Everytime I get to the ‘write the custom cover letter’ portion of applying for a job, I imagine a bored recruiter sitting amongst a pile of other responses – and think of how I can make myself stand out from that…which isn’t always the advice I get from others. I love creative writing and always want to ‘tell a story’ (concisely, of course) about what makes me, me. I usually become convinced that I’m off my rocker and should go back to following the crowd…which is probably why I’m on my 3rd year in in temporary position with no prospects. But – your reply gives me hope! I should go with the gut…

      • Go for it Janett, be yourself … your Self … and use your gift of creative writing and story telling. That’s what I did. Only in that way (in my humble opinion) does who you really are stand out. Follow your heart and your passion in where you want to work. I applied only for jobs that feed my soul, that I would love to do, and where I can use my gifts and talents. That passion then gets born in the creative process of the cover letter. Also, I did not attach my cover letter. I cut and pasted it right into the body of the email and attached only my resume – that way my letter was smack in front of the recruiter. I hope this helps!

  6. Re: “Ditch the physical address”; I’m not so sure. I recently had an interviewer notice my address and relate it to other people from the same town that I grew up with and also worked with. It was a positive thing and created more of a personal bond. The address created a link to common professionals and was positive for me.

    • The only downside I see to a physical address might be if applying for a job in a distant town. The employer may connect out-of-town with possibly incurring moving expenses and toss the resume.
      I would be curious to hear from hiring managers if when reviewing a stack of resume’s, if you are first looking for those who stand out, or looking for those to toss out and narrow the field?

      • I’ve had recruiters and hiring managers specifically tell me to include my physical address on resumes recently. If the job is nearby I include my address, if the location is influx I write “willing to relocate” and if it is far away I don’t include the address.

        I think the reason for the physical address is because often times people have cellphone numbers that don’t match their current location. Companies want to find someone nearby first so they don’t have to wait for a new employee to move or risk them backing out because of unforeseen complications.

  7. Great ideas. I just recently had my resume reviewed and got some of the same feedback. Waiting to see how the new one does!

    • Were you happy with the person you used to review your résumé? Would you be willing to share? Looking for someone who is a superstar in this area & knows what they are doing. Thanks if you’re willing. Best, Robin

  8. What I am experiencing and “hearing” is that the bottom line is it really depends on the recruiting style and desires of the hiring party. I’ve had the same exact resume be called “excellent” and “not professional enough”. Regarding the latter, the placement agency recruiter and one of their co-worker/recruiters expressed surprise and could not determine what about the resume was the problem. Their client did not elaborate. If my resume is in the hands of a placement agendy recruiter who thinks it’s great and if I don’t know who the hiring party is I cannot customize it accordingly. If the online job board lists the company as “confidential” I can’t even tell what the industry is. There is no right or wrong way I conclude. We simply must make it as professional as possible and be confident.

    • Alice, that is the real answer concerning CVs. It just has to be professional enough. I remember when I was interviewing for some posts at my workplace. The people with the most complicated and decorated CVs failed to make the grade, I was shocked. Some CVs can raise your hopes but when it comes to the interview…..its something else. I do not believe in these complicated CVs anymore.

      I wonder what a CV would be like without a physical address. At least I have to know where you permanently stay. Not for postal services but to at least have an idea that the candidate does not live in the street, I can also have an idea of the quality of the candidate in terms of personality, character to mention a few.
      While technology is advanced and very useful, but it cannot vouch for traditional procedures. Things like authentification of certificates.Scanned documents can be sent by the candidate and they would be looking very genuine on the computer but when the origionals are presented it can be something else. Actually there are a lot of scams done using the computer thus there is need to be carefull when documents are emailed. A fax is fine, at least it is faster than the post office.
      From an employer’s point of view recruitment needs to be planned in advance including succession planning so as to avoid issues concerning time whereby you are forced to recruit in a rush.
      CV just need to be professional enough.



  9. Excellent article. I developed a Blockbuster Resume training program for Career One Stop centers based on the book Blockbuster Resumes: Insider Secrets to Dazzle Your Audience and Blow Away the Competition. In today’s changing world, it is essential to keep up with the latest trends and stand out from the crowd. Look up Blockbuster Resume dot org for more free resume resources.

  10. So many articles on resume reconstructs seem to neglect including one very important item: an actual sample resume. Would love to see one.

    • Exactly! It would be nice to see some from different professions & education background as well. I know I absolutely hate most of the resume templates that come with my laptop. I always customize mine anyway but still…it would be nice to see what others are doing as a guide & then see what’s trending from there.

  11. I have been a professional resume writer for over 30 years. Today’s focus is on achievements, accomplishments, and information technology skills. No objective. Meaningful profile or summary of qualifications. Unless you live in a really awful neighborhood, I see no reason to omit the address.

  12. As you said, resume are displayed on PC screens. So why not to choose a landscape format so you dont need to scroll up & down to watch all information. A header and three text columns looks great. That s what I did for my last job. It looks like it worked well ;-)

  13. Leaving an address off your resume can also raise a red flag if you are applying for positions that might require relocation, or even just a long(er) commute. In those situations, it seems best to be upfront and provide your current location while also expressing your interest in moving to or working in the target city(/ies).

  14. As someone who is currently reviewing resumes for an open position, I have to say I don’t care for a summary of core competences at all. To me, it is meaningless. I want to see what a candidate has actually accomplished, not that they can pull out and repeat a bunch of key words from the job posting. Also, people should know the industry to which they are applying. In mine, it is rare for resumes to be scanned in HR and instead the individual to whom the position reports reviews resumes and makes the decision about who to interview.

    • Katie, as a recruiter, this is actually an extremely important part of the resume. A summary of skills such as AS400, SAP, JDE, etc. is what hiring managers search for when they are sifting through hundreds of resumes. It only takes the average recruiter/hiring manager approximately 8 seconds to look at a resume before continuing or moving onto the next one. The skills must be listed, or that resume would not come up in a search if I am looking for someone with experience in C++ or Java.

      • Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I meant I don’t want to see a list of “strong communication skills, team player, detail-oriented” etc. Those are generic and meaningless. Specific skills are different and if the job requires them, then yes, they should be listed either in a separate section or as part of a job description (i.e., used C++ to do xyz…”).

        Again, a job seeker needs to know the industry and who is looking at their resume. I work in higher ed fundraising. We don’t use recruiters, except for very high level positions. In almost all cases, resumes are reviewed within the department by the person who will be supervising the new employee, not by HR. We are also not focused on technical skills as much as we are on accomplishments and demonstrated success in fundraising. It just goes back to the point of customization and every resume should be customized for the job for which someone is applying.

        • I don’t care to see the boilerplate ambiguous meaningless statements that people put either…

          If I look at one that has as a top bullet under competencies “excellent communication skills” i will immediately trash it.

          What I want to see are your top accomplishments… real results, and your role in accomplishing those. Your highlighted achievements, etc.

          Additionally, don’t paste a job description… i immediately trash those as well. Tell me what you did, why you did it, and the impact on operations.

  15. @AEL, And when you apply through the ATS, you complete an on-line application where you supply your physical (and legal) address, which can be used for the above tasks. Bottom line, there are very few reasons to keep your address on a resume, otherwise it is just wasting space.

  16. I’ve been told to not be visually creative in formatting my resume because it needs to be “scannable” by the company’s recruitment software and that the same software removes any formatting and strips it to the basic text.

  17. Thank you for the suggestions regarding my next set of resume updates. I knew about customizing resumes for each opportunity, still working on how to quantify my past accomplishments. Any suggestions?

  18. Good point. That is true, AEL. Respectfully, I would say that those things are not performed in the earliest stage of a job search. Of course, candidates should provide their physical address on the application at the interview stage or when requested. However, it is not necessary when a candidate is posting their resume online.
    That is a good point, though.
    Agreed that they are not used for snail mail any longer.

    • Murray, you are correct. There is no need to give that information until later in the process. The only reason one would put their physical address is in the event that the job ad specifically states “local candidates only” – then the resume might get looked over because recruiters are moving very quickly and may not have the time to contact the candidate if there is no address.

  19. Keeping in mind that resumes are most often submitted through an employer’s ATS, it is absolutely important to include your physical address in your resume submission. Addresses are not used for “snail mail”; they are used for processing offers, background checks, and the rest of the on-boarding process.

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