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How to Write a Modern Resume in 2020

Insight Article - November 12, 2020

Don't leave your resume in the past.

What is the modern resume? Or more importantly, how does the modern resume compare to the traditional resume? The differences are certainly there, and they focus primarily on telling a career narrative and keyword optimization.


While traditional resumes or CVs can vary in range or length, the typical length of a modern resume usually hovers around one to two pages. In fact, more and more recruiters actually prefer two pages over one page, even if you're an entry-level candidate. 

According to a study that involved almost 500 recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals and nearly 8,000 resumes, recruiters are 2.3 times as likely to prefer two-page resumes over one-page resumes, regardless of a candidate's job level. This means if you have enough information to go on to that second page, do so. If you don't, leave it at one page. 

If you have many years of experience, you should still cut your resume down to two pages. Recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reviewing your resume, so it's important to present a succinct document that highlights the recent — and more relevant — parts of your work history, skills, and education.

Format and style

Modern industry standards call for more comprehensive formats and narrative career storytelling. With this, it is essential to “trim the fat” off of your resume and optimize its content. 

This begins with the removal of the objective statement and references, which have been deemed outdated. These two sections of the resume have been removed to include more comprehensive content, including a career summary and an Areas of Expertise section.

First, it's imperative to insert a career summary at the beginning of your resume. Career summaries are two to four lines that are typically like your elevator pitch, outlining why you're qualified for the job. Next, you can elect to insert six to nine “Areas of Expertise” bullet points utilizing keywords taken from the job descriptions you've been looking at to highlight your relevant skills and improve visibility on major resume hosting sites.

After these two sections, list your latest experiences up to 15 years — going back any further will just make your resume too long and will include information recruiters aren't looking for. The idea is to get the document to two pages filled with relevant information that highlights why you're the best candidate for the job.

You also want to leave enough room for an Education and Credentials section to wrap up the resume. These are the areas where education, training, certifications, and awards are compiled and listed, serving as rudimentary qualifications in many instances.

Keyword optimization

Believe it or not, your resume needs to include relevant keywords in order to be considered for the job. As mentioned, many recruiters search for specific keywords or terms when finding their ideal candidates. Also, many companies utilize applicant tracking software to help scan through the hundreds of applications they receive for a job posting, looking for the correct terms relevant to the job. This means that if your resume isn't optimized, this system will dispose of your resume before it reaches human eyes.

By strategically implementing relevant keywords, you increase visibility in highly competitive markets and heavily populated resume hosting sites, and ensure your resume gets through to a hiring manager. These terms are a must-add to any resume and are ideal for the “Areas of Expertise” section on any resume.

Resumes have evolved to reflect the times. How does the modern resume compare to the traditional resume? The differences are certainly significant. From more career-narrative development to keyword optimization, the modern resume has distinct features that aid job seekers in competing in a globally competitive market.

Is your resume stuck in the past? Update it today with the help of one of our resume writers.

This article was updated in May 2020. It was originally written by Keith Fuchs. Brought to you by TopResume.

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