Job seekers wonder what a current resume should look like. Basically, it needs to follow the requirements relevant to the job you want. That sounds like a no-brainer, but it requires analyzing the job ad with care.
Use the same language the company uses. Don’t just look at one job description for the job you are looking for; review three to five. Consolidate all that content into a word cloud application for more insights. Those words that show up big in the graphic are important in your industry. Fit them into headers, your resume summary, the job title, your skills section—wherever you can. Be sure to customize them to your unique situation.
Keywords might get you past applicant tracking systems (ATS), but if you don’t show up to interviews with those skills, you are wasting everyone’s time. Resist the impulse to load up your resume with keywords just to beat the system.
Use bullet points to show how you succeeded at something, improved your workplace, made money, saved money, made things more efficient, and made things better all around. That information will support the keywords you’re putting in your resume.
ATS is evolving into a tremendously important tool for processing job applications. Some of its bothersome features are gone now, but using keywords that directly apply to the job is still important.
Keep formatting on the simple side. Use design elements like columns, photos, tables, text boxes, lines, or boxes sparingly, if at all. That doesn’t mean your resume has to be ugly or boring. Shading and oversized fonts are fine—especially for your name. Be proud of that! You want your resume to be processed easily—by machines and humans. Don’t make your reader hunt for information. Be elegant and simple. Let your story be the one thing that makes you stand out.
Resumes can have a little bit of color, even in traditional industries. Navy blue shows nicely with gray shading. Orange or green can add interest. Sans serif fonts are good, with some text oversized. You are never going to lose an opportunity because you used a traditional font like Times New Roman. Fonts sized 10.5 and larger help prevent eyestrain. Your name can get up to a 25-point font.
Format your resume in reverse chronological order, starting with your current position and going backward. Research shows that people read a resume in an F pattern. The eye will read the top line and then scan the left-hand column. It goes across the page in the middle. Shape your resume so that your amazing job titles line up in this pattern and point to the career you are going for. Then list your job titles from top to bottom on the left side.
Sometimes you can flip that role. If a candidate has worked for all the top companies in the industry, then you can format it so the eye scanning down will pick out the outstanding company names. The positions will be there as well. The key takeaway here is that the left side of the document is valuable real estate.
If you do have the statistics to back it up, it’s nice to add basic charts. Use Microsoft Word charts to show how you boosted revenue, for example. The ATS will register that as a graphic, but the human eye will read it and notice it. Add the information as a bullet point for further clarification.
How does LinkedIn fit in?
LinkedIn is a great tool for digital networking and for showing off your accomplishments. If you aren’t taking advantage of this powerful, contemporary tool, now’s the time.
New features of the platform: they have added a video component where you can record a thirty-two second introduction. You can click on a contact’s headshot on their profile and the face moves. You can also add an audio message to your contacts. Quickly record a message and send it as an audio file to convey emotion and interest in a position. Offer a digital portfolio with links to your website, your resume, code for IT specialists, or video clips for a TV producer.
You are still going to need a resume with LinkedIn. The resume can include hyperlinks, and the actual content is elsewhere. The modern resume being sent online can include those links to the web and include a hyperlink to LinkedIn. People viewing resumes on their devices appreciate the ability to click through to these sites.
The LinkedIn skills section is underrated, with the soft skills often overlooked, but they appear front and center in a job description. Communication shows up in word clouds, often as strategic communication. That can be buried in the team leadership or team builder skill set. Other skills you run across are analytical, creative thinking, creativity, and positive attitude.
Best Way to Land a Job
Research has to be the best way to land a job today. You need to dig deep to find an appropriate job for you. If your mindset is, “I should be open to lots of different things,” you will come up with too many possibilities. This won’t work.
You need to establish some specific criteria for your job search. Shift your thinking toward a defined set of features that will really suit you. Once you’ve narrowed your parameters down, take a look at the job postings that are out there. Do some soul searching as you’re looking through those positions and be mindful of your reaction to them. If you’ve just read ten job descriptions that looked fine in theory, but they generated a ho-hum reaction, or you caught your mind wandering while you were reviewing them … maybe the position is not for you. At that point, you should put your attention in a different direction. Again, be as specific as possible.
There’s a lot of shifting of job titles today. Companies don’t necessarily agree on what to label a role anymore, so broaden your search to include different names for the same position.
Then, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the possibilities you’re finding, take a step back and start to think about researching what kinds of organizations you might be interested in.
This could be as simple as saying to yourself, “You know what? I’ve been in a huge corporate environment for a while. What if I tried more mid-size companies?” Or, “I’ve been with startups for a couple years and I’m exhausted. What if I chose some more stability with a bigger firm?”
Don’t overlook your inner research. People are starting to recognize the significant role their own values play when they choose an employer. We can’t participate in everything. We must discriminate.
It’s Who You Know, Not What You Know
Once you’ve done all that work, it’s time to step away from the job ads and start to think about your network. That includes your social media contacts.
It pays to follow companies you are interested in on social media. See what they’re putting out there. Do you respect them? Two female software programmers responded to companies that sent out congratulatory tweets on International Women’s Day. These women tweeted out the pay gaps between men and women in the companies—much to these corporations’ embarrassment! A lot of companies talk about how great they are, but just a little digging can reveal another side to them.
In another case, a recruiter advised you connect on LinkedIn with the person who did the job you want at a company. If you’re in the hiring process and being interviewed for something, reach out to that former employee. Ask them why they left the company. Don’t ask the employer to connect to you with someone. They can’t go there, but you can approach the person and interview them. Reference checking should go both ways, right?
The common resume in 2022 takes three forms: functional, reverse chronological order, and a hybrid of the two. The chronological resume is preferred, with job experience in reverse chronological order. This style makes it easy for employers to scan. It’s what they are used to seeing, so they know where the eye should go.
They expect to see contact information is at the top of the page and the education section close to the bottom. A summary of your experience will highlight your top skills and how you put them to work on behalf of your employer. After that, the experience section should feature company names, job titles, and years of service in that role.
The job objective is gone now. This information can be incorporated into a detailed summary at the top of the page followed by your work experiences. So, a senior accountant with eight plus years of experience in the healthcare field making the transition to the IT industry can incorporate that goal as something that’s “in the works” in the summary section.
If you have a career break, this format makes it possible to get that gap farther down on the page. That way, it’s not the first thing the recruiter sees. It will be preceded by lots of good qualities.
Don’t remove the gap or be dishonest and do include anything you can put in that space. If you were ill or serving as a caregiver, state that briefly. If you couldn’t find full-time paying work, list any part-time jobs, volunteer roles, or contract positions as such. Did you use that time to gain further training or certification? If you were terminated for some reason, be direct, honest, and concise about it.
Then be prepared to explain the situation in the interview. Phrase the reasons in language as positive as you can come up with. State what you learned and what you’ve done differently from that point on. Remember—recruiters often see this. If handled well, you could be fine.
Some people try to hide a gap in a functional resume, where your skills and experiences are arranged in subject order. That format has its plusses, but hiring managers tend to discount them. That’s because they may be used to hide breaks in continuity—such as career gaps. Recruiters want to see your work history laid out for them. Nothing is more important. A functional resume can send up a red flag that you’re covering something up.
Why Hire a Professional Resume Writer?
A strong resume is critical to a successful job search. You can use a basic template to shape your content. The next step up is a resume builder—either free or paid—which can take the information you plug in and come out with a nicely formatted product. Canva has some beautiful, easy-to-use styles. But beware: no matter what software you use, the resume must make it through the ATS. Review it with care before you distribute it.
For a little more money, you can hire a professional service. They offer fast turnaround on a resume based entirely on a questionnaire.
The most effective service is to hire a certified professional resume writer. You’ll get an eye-catching version of your career story with appropriate keywords and benefits. You can have it tailored to a certain role or industry, or make it general. Other options might include a cover letter and other professional correspondence, a LinkedIn profile, and—best of all—job search consulting, including salary negotiation. If you want to get the best product, this is your best option.
Whatever you use, bear in mind that a human being is going to read your resume. They can tell if something is put together by AI. They sense it by the flow, the echoing themes, headlines that show you are a team player, and facts that are not just a hodge-podge of information but are solidly backed up. The language will be fresh, with different terms for the same concept.
Humans are better at that!