11 Signs Your Resume is Outdated (+ How To Fix It)

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June 7, 2024
Edited by
Camille Trent
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min read

3 key takeaways

  • An outdated resume doesn’t align with modern best practices and can suggest you aren’t current in your industry or serious about your job search.
  • There are 11 signs your resume is outdated you should know about.
  • You can fix an outdated resume without starting from scratch using the tools and features inside the Teal AI Resume Builder.

An outdated resume can be the difference between landing an interview and being passed over. It can give the impression you're out of touch with current job market trends and probably doesn’t highlight your value in a way that's relevant to each job.

But what exactly makes your resume outdated? And how can you fix it?

Below, you'll learn the telltale signs your resume needs a refresh and how to update it quickly—without the frustration of starting from scratch.

Struggling to land interviews with an outdated resume? Try Teal's Resume Builder to update yours for free.

What is an outdated resume?

An outdated resume is one that doesn't align with current job market best practices for content, formatting, and design.

It might contain irrelevant information, lack clear sections and impactful achievements, or fail to align with the specific job you're applying for.

Applying for jobs with an outdated resume can hurt you during the hiring process. Why? Hiring professionals have limited time. In fact, with so many job applicants, recruiters spend only a few seconds reviewing your personal details on the first pass. An outdated resume may immediately (whether right or wrong) signal you aren't current in your industry or serious about your job search.

Fortunately, there are a few clear signs to look for.

11 signs your resume is outdated

Maybe you haven't updated your resume for the past few years. (Or maybe you've never updated it at all.) In either case, if you're asking, 'Is my resume outdated?' and spot any of these red flags, it's time for a revamp.

Sign 1: You include a physical address

Including a full street address in your resume contact information is no longer necessary. Your address takes up valuable space. Instead, just list your city, state, and zip code.

Sign 2: You use an outdated email address

An old email like sweetiepie99@hotmail.com isn't great for your professional image. Stick with a current, straightforward address using your name and a modern provider like Gmail.

Pro Tip: Teal’s Built-in Guidance walks you through each resume section so you’re never left guessing about what to include or what doesn’t belong.

Guidance to help improv your outdated resume
Follow Teal’s Guidance for each resume section.

Sign 3: You use a resume objective

Resume objectives have fallen out of favor. Rather than focusing on what you hope to achieve in your next role or your career goals, a tailored professional summary that highlights your most relevant skills and experience is a more modern option.

Sign 4: You list all of your work history dating back to your first job

Unless you're an entry-level candidate and this is your first resume, there's no need to include every position you've ever held. 

Focus on the last 10 to 15 years of relevant experience to keep your resume concise. The recruiter for a Director of Content Marketing at a tech company doesn't need to know about the swim lessons you taught in high school or college.

Still not sure? Check out this guide for how many jobs you should list on a resume.

Sign 5: Your resume lacks results and achievements

One of the biggest resume mistakes to avoid is just listing your responsibilities. Today's resumes need to go beyond simply listing job duties. What did you do? How did this impact the business? Incorporate measurable accomplishments and outcomes to show results.

Pro Tip: AI makes it easy to write standardized and impactful achievements for every job.

Sign 6: You include references or "references available upon request"

Hiring managers assume you'll provide references if needed, so there's no reason to use resume space on this outdated phrase. Rather than adding references to a resume, ave a separate reference sheet ready to provide when asked.

Sign 7: Lack of clear sections and headings

A cluttered resume with poor organization and a hard-to-distinguish resume format is difficult for both human readers and applicant tracking systems (ATS) to navigate. Use clear section headings to break up content and guide the reader through your qualifications.

Sign 8: Large blocks of text instead of bullet points

Dense paragraphs are hard to read quickly and can obscure key details. Use concise resume bullet points starting with strong action verbs to make your accomplishments (and impact!) stand out.

Sign 9: No updated certifications or continuing education

If a certification or similar accolade is no longer relevant or expired, it doesn't belong on your resume. In addition, in today's evolving workplace, it's important to show you've invested in ongoing professional development.

Highlight your most recent and relevant certifications on your resume and remove outdated details.

Sign 10: Your resume isn't tailored to the job description

Generic, one-size-fits-all resumes simply don't cut it in today's job market. Compared to just five years ago, there are significantly more applicants vying for each position. As the market trends towards global hiring, you’re competing with the world—not just your city.

Rather than using one resume for every job application, analyze the job posting for key requirements, language, and other important details and tailor your content accordingly. This targeted approach shows how you’re a strong fit for the role and sets you apart from the competition.

Teal's Match Tool helps you understand is your resume outdate compare to a unique jobd
Tailor your content using details from the job and Teal's Match Score tool.

Sign 11: Your resume isn't optimized for ATS systems

As the market becomes more digital, many companies rely on applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan and organize resumes. These digital filing systems have to be able to parse your resume correctly. Optimizing your content and layout for these systems with an ATS resume is crucial to avoid an unreadable resume.

How to fix an outdated resume using Teal

Now that you know how to spot an outdated resume, you can fix those issues in a few steps with Teal's AI Resume Builder.

First, all you need to do is create a Teal account and upload your current resume to get started—no copying and pasting or trying to toggle between your resume and another program.

Make sure all of your details scan into the correct sections, then, because you have an existing resume, run a Resume Analysis.

Teal's Resume Analysis will help you identify:

  • Quality issues
  • Misalignments with modern best practices
  • Opportunities to improve sections of your resume with strategic suggestions

Teal's suggestions will help you create a more modern document that makes a better impression on potential employers. With Teal+, you get Advanced Resume Analysis that offers even more actionable recommendations to improve your resume's structure, format, content quality, and more.

Here’s how to get into how to fix your outdated resume—fast.

Fix 1: Streamline your contact information

Remove your physical address and include only your name, city, state, phone number, professional email, and LinkedIn URL.

A good Contact Information section contains only the most relevant details.

Fix 2: Update to a professional email address

Say goodbye to SparklPoni9226191@aol.com. It's time to upgrade to a more professional email address that incorporates your name. Platforms like Gmail, Hotmail, and Outlook are free to use.

Fix 3: Replace your objective statement with a professional summary

You're applying for a job. A hiring manager will assume you want the position; you don't need to tell them. Remove any details about your goals or why you want a specific job.

A good professional summary showcases your most impressive skills and experiences. Think of this section as your highlight reel.

If you're feeling stuck on what to say, try Teal's generative AI.

Teal's AI condenses your experience in an impactful way so you can present a high-level overview of your best professional accomplishments.

Fix 4: Focus on relevant, recent experience

Unless you have a large gap in your career, your resume should only include your most relevant and recent positions from the last 10 to 15 years.

And everything you incorporate should be aligned with the specific job you're applying for.

With Teal, you can check (or uncheck) the boxes next to the most relevant experience for each unique job without deleting important details.

Selecting relevant achievements to fix an outdated resume
Select the most relevant details for every unique role without deleting any of your experience.

Fix 5: Highlight accomplishments with impact

While what you've done in each position is certainly important, what's more important is how you've done it and the results you achieved.

If you're having trouble formulating resume bullet points, try the formula below:

Success Verb (e.g., increased, improved, reduced) + Noun + Metric + [Strategy Optional] + Outcome = 1 bulleted achievement

For example:

Original resume bullet point:

  • Responsible for managing social media accounts and creating content

Improved resume bullet point:

  • Boosted social media engagement by 40% within 6 months by implementing a data-driven content strategy and leveraging user-generated content, resulting in increased brand awareness and a 25% increase in website traffic.

But don't work harder than you have to. Teal also has an AI for your achievements to help you write resume bullet points that align closely with the job you're applying for.

With Teal's AI, you can match your resume to a specific job description, add a specific prompt, or suggest keywords to customize the output, then let AI take care of the rest.

Fix 6: Remove references sections

Delete references unless a particular company asks for them during the application process—this includes the phrase "references available upon request."

The outdated practice of adding references on a resume wastes valuable real estate that could be used to showcase more of your achievements and impact to potential recruiters and employers.

Fix 7: Organize with clear sections and headings

Each section of your resume should have a clear header and title so hiring professionals know what they're looking at.

Use Teal's Drag-and-Drop Editor to arrange or even rename your sections in the order that works best for your experience.

For example, if you're applying to a role in a more technical field, move your Skills section beneath your professional summary to immediately highlight you have the right aptitudes for the job.

Fix 8: Use concise bullet points

Replace lengthy paragraphs with concise bullet points that are easy to scan.

Your resume bullet points should:

  • Quantify your achievements with relevant data and metrics to demonstrate your impact.

    For example: "Increased sales revenue by 25% within the first quarter by implementing a new marketing strategy."
  • Focus on the specific actions you took and the results you achieved rather than just listing your responsibilities.
  • Highlight your most relevant skills and experiences that align with the job description. Use industry-specific keywords to make it easy for a recruiter to find your resume when they search an ATS for specific skills or qualifications.
Keywords highlighted in a job description to help guide an outdated resume
Use Teal's Job Description Keyword Finder to get the right keywords for every resume bullet point.

Fix 9: Showcase only your latest training and certifications

Remove any outdated or expired certifications. If you have any updated accreditations or certificates, add a dedicated "Certifications" or "Professional Development" section to highlight your most recent and relevant qualifications.

Fix 10: Tailor your resume to each job

Every job description is different. And that means no two resumes should be the same. Each time you apply, your resume (and cover letter!) should showcase the experience that is relevant to that unique job.

Use Teal's Matching Mode to see how your content stacks up to a specific posting. Teal will give you a Match Score with a breakdown of how well your resume aligns with the language, keywords, and skills of the job with optimization suggestions for improvement. Just incorporate the suggestions to increase your score to 60-75%.

Fix 11: Optimize for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

The ATS are electronic databases used as digital filing systems. They help hiring professionals get organized, and job seekers get found through quick keyword searches.

While the ATS aren't bots trying to auto-reject your resume, they do need your resume to be scannable so it can be read (and searched for) by a human hiring professional.

Teal's simple resume templates and PDF download option are designed for ATS compatibility.

Some other ways to optimize for the ATS are:

  • Use clear headings
  • Only rely on simple formatting
  • Incorporate relevant keywords throughout each section
  • Avoid using images, charts, or other graphics that may not be parsed correctly

Revamp your outdated resume with Teal

By identifying outdated elements and leveraging Teal's tools for targeted fixes, you can create a polished, impactful, modern resume that resonates and increases your chances of landing interviews.

Teal's AI Resume Builder offers tools like Matching Mode, Resume Analysis, and a Drag-and-Drop Editor to help you quickly update and optimize every section of your resume for maximum impact.

Don't let an outdated resume hold you back from landing a new job.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered outdated on a resume?

An outdated resume includes elements like a physical address, an old email address, and a resume objective. It may also lack clear sections, measurable achievements, and tailoring to specific job descriptions, making it less effective in today's job market.

Are resumes outdated?

Resumes are not outdated. Resumes remain important during the application and hiring process because they provide a structured way to present your professional experience and qualifications to potential employers. They're also often required. But, an outdated resume can hinder your job search success. Keeping your resume updated with current job market trends, relevant skills, and measurable achievements is crucial for making a solid impression.  

Need an updated resume quickly? Sign up for Teal to create one.

Do employers really care what your resume looks like?

Yes, employers care about the appearance of your resume because it reflects your professionalism and attention to detail. A well-organized, modern resume that is easy to read and highlights relevant achievements can significantly increase your chances of landing an interview.

What are three items that should not go into a resume?

Three items that should not go into a resume are a full physical address, references, and an outdated email address. These elements waste valuable space and do not add value to your application.

Kayte Grady

Kayte, Senior Copywriter at Teal and Champion of ADHD professionals, is a seasoned writer passionate about storytelling and career growth. With a data-driven approach to content marketing and a word-nerd knack for resume builder analysis, Kayte’s on a mission to empower job seekers to land a job they love. Constantly pivoting and reinventing herself, this social-worker-turned-marketer found growth and camaraderie in tech—a genuine surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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