From 1999 to 2009 A Decade of Resume Change Print E-mail

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

New Year’s Eve, 1999 was a day toward which the entire world had worked. Information technology professionals world-wide had been working frantically for several years to make sure all vital computer code was updated and ready for the big millennium date change. Pessimists expected massive power failures and banking problems while optimists went about their lives with full confidence in their IT departments. Fortunately, the optimists were the winners and 2000 came in with few glitches.

Technology Impact on Resumes

Many things have changed in the past ten years that affect job search and resumes, much of it related to technology. In 1999, the Internet was emerging as a factor in finding a new job. Paper resumes were still in use and considered a standard tool for contacting employers. Most resume firms still stocked several selections of fine resume paper in the standard colors of ivory, eggshell, grey, and light blue. Job seekers requested copies of their resumes in both hardcopy and on 3.5 inch disks. Email was used for communication, but people still felt uncomfortable relying on JUST email to contact an employer so snail mail and fax were still common tools.

In 1999, employers began turning to Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) to assist them in the rapidly growing number of job seekers. The Internet enabled job seekers worldwide to access available job listings so the number of applicants for each position skyrocketed. Hiring managers and recruiters were struggling with volume and were reaching for ways to help them manage the influx. Filing cabinets were insufficient, and OCR scanning technology of those paper resumes was being used to store documents electronically.

  • Paper resumes were in a variety of paper colors.
  • Snail mail or fax was used to deliver resumes to employers.
  • Newspaper ads were still a viable method for advertising a job opening.
  • OCR scanning technology was used by companies for storage of paper resumes received.
  • Job seekers did not trust email to deliver a resume; many job seekers snail mailed their resumes in addition to emailing them.
  • Resumes were stored by job seekers on 3.5 inch disks.
  • Few job seekers knew what a text resume was, and fewer actually knew how to use them in their job searches.

Technology was different than what exists now in 2009. Today’s HRIS systems are faster and more integrated into the entire hiring process than in 1999. All the new uses of technology on the employer side of the equation necessitated changes to the way resumes were written and designed, changes that are almost taken for granted as resume “musts” now a decade later.

In 2009…

  • Email has replaced snail mail and fax for resume delivery.
  • Paper resumes are only used to take to the in-person interview.
  • Document storage is usually on a thumb drive if saved externally – no more disks.
  • Keywords are integrated into the entire document rather than grouped into a keyword section at the top of the resume.
  • An e-resume is considered a must-have tool for job search because job search is now mostly Internet-based or electronic in nature; savvy job seekers have both a traditional resume and an e-resume.

A Study of Market Extremes – 1999 vs. 2009

A huge difference between 1999 and 2009 is the state of the market. Ten years ago it was a common joke that job candidates merely had to be breathing to be eligible for a job. It was a HOT market in 1999. The dot-com bubble was in full bloom and instant stock-option millionaires were everywhere. It was not uncommon to find CEOs in their twenties, especially in start-up companies. Venture capitalists were handing out money as if it was Halloween candy. It was a dream world for job seekers with employers practically bidding for candidates.

In 1999….

  • Sellers market – Job seekers often had a choice of multiple offers and could go for the highest bid.
  • Influx of workers from overseas. Prior to 9/11, it was much easier for foreign nationals to receive a work visa to enter the US so many professionals, especially in the technology fields, had the opportunity to join the US workforce.
  • Money flowed like a river to new companies and established companies were expanding to a global business model.
  • Telecom, construction, high tech, pharmaceuticals and finance were hot, hot industries.
  • Job seekers were changing industries just for the fun of it – to try something new.

As we move into 2009, we are entering one of the most competitive / tightest job markets ever known. That means you, the job seeker, must be VERY competitive in every aspect of your job search. Your resume must be top-notch and tactically aggressive in order to win the attention of hiring managers and recruiters. You can pull no punches when laying out your qualifications, and you cannot afford to be humble. A resume must be designed with an aggressive strategy that outlines not only relative experience but accomplishments. Employers have the pick of the crop now, and savvy job seekers take every step to stand out to hiring managers by touting how they can make a difference.

In 2009…

  • Buyers market – Employers have their choice of very qualified candidates and they can find candidates who meet 100% of their requirements.
  • Company budgets have constricted and cutbacks affect everyone in an operation.
  • Industries have crashed along with the economy.
  • Job seekers are changing industries out of necessity to survive.

Resumes are living documents that change over time and adjust to the needs of the market. Employers have different needs and technology has become a more integral part of the hiring process. Business is much more global and the way people work has changed. Resumes evolve to best market job seekers to a changing employment world. A decade is a long time in “resume years” and light years in terms of job market conditions.

Make sure your resume lives up to the standards of 2009, because job searching in this market with an outdated resume will only bring you frustration and missed opportunities.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President and CEO of, a 14+ year old career branding firm that aids senior and C-level executives through their job search. She's been cited by JIST Publications as one of the "best resume writers in North America," quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and is published in 20+ career books. She has long been an inspirational mentor and trainer to other resume writers and career professionals.


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