What’s keeping you from updating your resume?
There are few worse scenarios in life than this...
You dread going to work every morning. You do it because you need to pay the bills and chip away at that looming debt you’re reminded of with every monthly statement.
You get an email or text from an old friend, former co-worker, or industry connection that you made years ago about a job opening with a company you’ve been discreetly stalking online for weeks. All you need to do is send over your resume or apply online tonight, and the job is practically yours.
It only takes one look at your resume, and you feel defeated. You haven’t touched it in years. It doesn’t even have your most recent job listed, and it’s overall look and feel hasn’t changed much over time. You’re pretty sure it looks as ineffective as you feel after a long day at work.
Resume writing is often the most dreaded task for job seekers because either:
You have a difficult time talking about yourself in a resume,
You have a hard time quantifying skill sets, and your edu-crastination (You like that?) has only instilled in you that quantifying your skills is the only way to get an interview,
You have no idea what to do with your overly diversified experience or work history timeline issues like multiple company acquisitions, demotions, or changing job titles; or
You’re just too exhausted to work on your resume after work.
I want to help. This list of resume tips for 2021 will guide you through updating, revamping, and ultimately crafting a job-winning resume that gets you hired faster.
2 | Write For All Readers, Not Just Bots
Now that you understand your resume’s role in the hiring process, you can see that your resume needs to get through an Applicant Tracking system and two other gateways before you are selected for a job interview. A common misconception about resume writing is that your top priority has to be writing your resume for computers or the bots that operate within ATS.
Resume writing is actually a balancing act. You have to write your resume for three different audiences: ATS, HR, and a direct supervisor or hiring manager deciding who will get the interview.
ATS is looking at both the digital formatting of your resume and the keywords you’ve included throughout. The HR reader likely has a checklist of requirements and preferences, so you can’t assume this person will know that you have certain skills and experience based on your job titles. A direct supervisor or hiring manager will then need to decide who is a better fit for the job, the team, and the company as a whole among the handful of applicants that made it this far in the process.
3 | Narrow Down Your Job Target
The most effective, job-winning resume is going to be targeted for a specific job. If you’re applying for jobs online, this means the specific job posting. If you’re networking, this means you need to get laser-focused on what your job target is to position yourself as the best fit for the job that you want.
Targeting your resume shows that you understand the goals of the role you’re applying for or pursuing in your job search. A targeted resume will also demonstrate that you can meet and exceed those goals based on your track record over the course of your work history and educational background.
If you can’t narrow down your job target, you should either create a targeted resume for each of your job targets or consider working with a career coach. Career Exploration Coaching with April Klimkiewicz of Bliss Evolution is highly recommended if you need help getting a clear direction and focus for your job search!
4 | Design Your Resume For ATS
The next step is designing your resume for Applicant Tracking systems. This software has been around since the 90s—so there’s a ton of outdated information online about it—but ATS has evolved dramatically over the last 5-10 years. Here’s what you need to know:
Applicant Tracking systems can’t read text placed in headers or footers.
Applicant Tracking systems can’t read text placed in text boxes.
Applicant Tracking systems don’t care about bold, underlined, italicized, colored, or color-filled text.
Applicant Tracking systems don’t see photos, graphs, or charts embedded in your resume (JPG or PNG files)—just don’t rely on them to convey important information that isn’t in the text.
Applicant Tracking systems scan the text from left-to-right and may not read information formatted in columns correctly.
Applicant Tracking systems can read PDFs but are known to read MS Word Documents more accurately.
To maximize your chances of getting through ATS, start with a new Microsoft Word Document and organize your information in a one-column layout. Make sure your contact information can be found in the body of your resume rather than in the header or footer.
Keep in mind that Applicant Tracking software is designed to look for certain keywords and text arrangements to fill in a form with your information within the software. Use standard section headings (Skills or Areas of Expertise, Experience, Education, Certifications, etc.) to make sure your information is parsed and organized in this software’s searchable database correctly.