If you're re-entering the job market after a lengthy unemployment period, you're not alone. More than seven million workers in the U.S. lost their jobs during the initial surge of the global pandemic, with more following over time. One of the first steps in starting the job search process is upgrading your resume to be more accurate and aligned with modern best practices. Here are the essential considerations when upgrading your resume in 2021.
If you've been employed for the better part of the last decade, the most significant change since you last applied for a job is in the specific wording of your resume. Before you start crafting your resume, take some time to learn about applicant tracking systems (ATS). Rather than trying to appeal to human hiring managers like in the past, your resume will now likely be pre-screened by an ATS. These automated systems operate similarly to Google, scanning the document for relevant keywords and qualifications.
When you search for a job, you can often identify the important keywords by taking a closer look at the job posting and general industry qualifications. Incorporating those words into your resume can help get it into the right (human) hands.
One word of caution when optimizing your resume for keywords: it's still integral to appeal to human hiring managers. Don't sacrifice the quality or natural tone of your resume for keywords. Instead, incorporate them into your summary and as bullet points throughout the document.
The expectations for what should be included in a resume have evolved over the past few years. Two of the biggest no-nos on a modern resume are the inclusion of an objectives section and a references section.
Replace your objectives with a brief professional summary, punctuated by an eye-catching, relevant headline. This is a fantastic way to sum up your experience and value while naturally incorporating keywords. Have references readily available, but don't mention them at all. Telling your potential employer you have references available is redundant, as they expect it of you.
When crafting your resume, it's also essential to consider your digital footprint. Be sure to update your LinkedIn and scan through your online presence before submitting your resume. Your LinkedIn profile should be up-to-date with relevant information, offering more detail than your resume.
Many modern employers look to social media as a key part of the hiring process. Don't miss this opportunity to expand on your resume and showcase your value.
There's no reason for your resume to be longer than two pages, even if you have 20 years of experience in various settings. Pare your resume back to no more than 15 years. Instead of listing your experience prior to that point, sum it up in your professional summary.
While adding timelines to your employment is fine, remove your graduation dates from the educational section of your resume. This practice is also archaic and can create preconceived notions about older job seekers.
For many modern employers, your skills matter more than your experience. Hiring managers and recruiters are much more open to hiring based on your potential rather than your past. Having an in-depth knowledge of various online tools and platforms trumps having years of experience in one role.
It goes without saying, but it still needs to be said: triple-check your resume for errors. There's no excuse for spelling errors and typos in 2021. Pay close attention to your contact information and ensure that your phone number and email are both up to date.
By addressing these key areas, you can upgrade your resume to find success in your future endeavors.