Updated: Jul 27
“Keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” Dinah Craik
Google “resume tips 2021” and it yields over 2 billion search results. There is no denying it, as many individuals contemplate the next steps in their professional journey, they are researching how to upgrade one of the most powerful tools in their professional toolkit -- the resume. This essential document, which embodies an individual’s skills and accomplishments, has always influenced employers in the candidate selection process. According to a recruiter eye tracking study by Ladders, Inc. recruiters spend a whopping 7.4 seconds “reading” a resume. That study also compared the results of the last survey conducted in 2012 which accounted for the last economic recession when recruiters were inundated with applications; the time spent reading a resume was 6 seconds. With so many individuals looking to change jobs in 2021, it will be even more important to be intentional about the information you keep on your resume and the information that it will be necessary to revise or remove when you want to stand out in a crowd of applicants.
I remember the “olden days,” when resumes existed solely on a thumbnail drive or as a file on your laptop and when you walked into your face to face interview with multiple physical copies for unexpected interviewers who joined your in person meeting. I remember purchasing ivory paper and envelopes for those times when you wanted to make an instant first impression with an interviewer. You knew at least two of their senses were engaged because they had to touch it, read it and typically engage with you in person.
Today, deciding what to keep and what to exclude from your resume has greater implications than ever before. Online platforms are now the top place for job leads and 84% of companies use social media in recruiting. Algorithms and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have become the gatekeepers -- an estimated 75% of resumes do not even make it to a hiring manager! When a recruiter or manager does review your resume, it’s most likely via a computer and not physically by hand. If you land a first round interview, there is a very high probability that interview and any subsequent interviews will be via a video platform.
Although it may seem that times have changed dramatically, it is important to remember that companies are constantly looking to hire great talent and your interview is going to be a conversation with a human being on the other side. Having a well organized resume can be effective in moving you along in the job search process towards that job offer. Job seeking giants such as Indeed.com have countless articles on resume formats, but as you create or update your resume, consider how you use your resume to speak to your strengths in the following areas as well.
Creativity: In your work experience, where have you displayed imaginative or innovative thinking? According to Daniel Levitin, author of An Organized Mind, how we spend our time is partly determined by how much time we have left. Early on in our careers, when time is plentiful, we are encouraged to explore and discover things in our career. As we get older, we tend to emphasize doing things we already like to do, rather than exploring new things. COVID rocked our world and forced us all to be more creative in how we navigate the world. How can you reflect that growth in your career objective or work experience section?
Reporting Relationships - How have your professional relationships with colleagues, people who report to you directly, clients, and other communities shifted pre and post COVID? As companies adjusted to the massive shifts in work, customer service and use of technology, it allowed many people to expand their roles and engage with new corporate connections both internally and externally. You may have been part of a special team that was created to solve a problem and had direct engagement with top executives or you were given increased responsibilities that allowed for direct client engagement. Don’t forget to account for shifts in these relationships when describing your accomplishments and organizational impact on your resume.
Technology - We may feel that we do not have room on our plate for one more app or to learn another technology platform. However with so many companies pivoting to remote work, one thing is clear: it is here to stay. As a significant portion of the workforce redefines the work they want to do and how they want to do it, how has technology supported the work you do? How can you translate that benefit into a skill set on your resume?
Thirst for Knowledge - How can you exhibit a growth mindset to your current or future employer? If you are working in a competitive field, are there credentials or certifications that you have earned in your professional journey that allow you to stand out? Do you have personal passions that you pursue that you can identify in the personal section of your resume that show you are a well rounded person? Online course platforms have proliferated and if this is an area that has been neglected, it may be the time to ask yourself if you are willing to invest in pursuing learning that can help you to enhance your potential as a candidate.
Remember that you will always be the chief navigator of your career and your resume is the most effective marketing tool that you have in your toolkit on that journey. Taking the time to refine or redesign your resume can make all the difference in opening up a range of opportunities during your job search.
How will your resume work for you in 2021?