Resumes: 20 years of change and innovation

In 1990 I launched my business. It wasn’t much, but enthusiasm made up for a lack of desks and equipment. 1990: the first known World Wide Web page had just been written, “SEEK” was part of a game children played, and the term “Yahoo” was Australian slang for a loutish person. Australia’s total population had almost reached 17 million, the average annual salary was $27,227 and the unemployment rate was 5.8%.

Twenty seven years is just a blip in the grand scheme of time, but in terms of job seeking methods and resumes, it is almost an eternity!

Back in 1990, resumes in Australia were multi-page presentations. An entire page could be devoted to three lines of education placed strategically in the middle of the page. Personal details extended across all of page one and were strategically listed:



Telephone Number:

Place of Birth:

Date of Birth:

Marital Status:


In those days we called it “white space”.

Today we call it a wasted opportunity.

In 2017, a vastly different methodology is in play. The talk is about personal branding, the resume is referred to as a career-marketing document and colour has revolutionised what used to be “plain Jane” formats with graphs, text boxes dividers and more. Documents are a sixth of the size of their 1990 counterparts; they are more concise and the emphasis on results and achievements have replaced responsibilities and duties almost completely.

Social media has captured the imagination of jobseekers, employers and recruiting firms alike and this is evident in the way people show knowledge of and interest in having a Linkedin profile created, and how jobseekers are routinely sourced by human resources departments, job search consultants and employers.

Twitter has strengthened into a global phenomenon swept along by celebrities, politicians and even the British Monarchy and has changed the way people communicate. It has enriched the way we get our point across without embellishment and this has cascaded into different forms of writing such as emails, cover letters and resumes. People now have little patience for flowery descriptions, lengthy paragraphs, and dull writing—opting instead to make “every word a winner”, with content that is both concise and compelling.

The term “personal branding”—–essentially unknown to all but trailblazers keen to promote the concept, just five or six years ago, has now penetrated the broader community. Today, most people know that communicating their personal brand is important to maintain an edge over the competition (even if they don’t exactly know what a personal brand is!)

With public demand for the next big thing continually growing, a revolution has occurred in the job search arena. Resumes now feature branding statements, personal philosophies and testimonials that distinguish candidates as unique “products” about to be launched on the market. This new form of consumerism allows the purchaser (employers and job search consultants) an opportunity to assess whether this individual would be a good match with existing team dynamics.

Standing still is no longer an option in the job search world of today. Professional resume writers are always on the lookout for new methods to distinguish candidates from others in a highly competitive arena. A couple of years ago I noticed an emerging trend in newspapers where the key points were placed strategically in one-line bullet points that provided the summary of the story, followed by the article or report.


I saw this as a strategy that could be transferred beautifully to resume development: a three bullet point summary, with each point no longer than one line, bolded and setting the scene for the narrative of employment experiences following. You’ll see in the example above what an impact this “Key Outcomes” section can make. Even if the reader just scans the document, these three bullet points are going to provide the reader with all they need to know in fewer than 20 seconds.

As a pioneer in placing “Snapshot” text boxes on resumes a few years ago, I notice now that many other resume writers have adopted this way of highlighting important information.


That’s the beauty of this industry where there are the rules, but at the same time innovative ideas can be developed and interpreted within the parameter of these rules to pitch a compelling business case for candidates.

One thing is for sure. The traditional ways that ruled jobseeking when I first started in the nineties (and even a good part of the last decade) have evolved to embrace change through the rapid march in technology and networking.

Experimentation in career marketing when used in a risk-averse environment and within the frameworks of contemporary job search can allow jobseekers to present themselves in ways that are both edgy and sophisticated, yet that play by the rules.

The question is, do your career marketing documents look more like 1990 or 2017?


  1. City Sylvester

    Gayle, great post. Technology has changed the way we communicate and digest information. We've evolved in a culture of instant gratification, and getting straight to the desert (which I don't mind once in a while) 🙂

    Today, in the resume writing industry, clients need professionals, who not only understand social media, but can utilize the trends in new communication and technology to get an accurate message across.

  2. Karen Bice

    Standing still no longer an option in job search world of today RT @GayleHoward: Resumes: 20 years of change/innovation

  3. Karen Bice

    Standing still no longer an option in job search world of today RT @GayleHoward: Resumes: 20 years of change/innovation


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About Gayle Howard

If you are interested in working with Gayle Howard—an executive resume writer, Certified Master Resume Writer, multi-award-winning resume writer, and Master LinkedIn profile writer, drop her a line now using the contact form at the link above. Gayle can help you get interviews for your dream job and bring the world of business to you by maximizing your exposure and connections on LinkedIn.