As the workforce continues to evolve, and the workplace along with it, a resume's formatting, content expectations and standard practices have shifted.
The COVID-19 pandemic has swiftly changed the way we live on a global scale. While governments have implemented measures to encourage populations to stay home in order to help flatten the curve, businesses have been forced to close their doors, leaving millions without jobs or with reduced hours.
For many, it's the first time being out of the workforce in a long time. And for even more, updating a resume may not have been at the top of the priority list.
Yet, While the economy has been hit hard -- hiring is still happening, and several critical sectors are even experiencing a surge in demand for services.
A well-crafted, tailored resume is a candidate's most powerful tool in the application process, and its formatting is critical to both being found by the Applicant Tracking Systems recruiters and hiring managers use to source talent and providing a great professional first impression.
Here's how to update your resume to ensure it's found by the ATS and meets current employer standards and expectations.
UPDATE RESUME FORMAT
Traditional vs. digital resume formats
A digital resume can be impressive, and in some fields like marketing and design, they're an effective way to highlight creative skills. But the bottom line about an infographic resume or a typography resume, for example, is that the Applicant Tracking Systems can’t read what’s written within them, as the technology is confused by the fancy graphs, icons, graphics and formatting used on these types of resumes.
So, how do you get your resume through the ATS and into a hiring manager's hands?
If you’re applying online through the company website, a job board portal, social media platform or any other third-party application, update your resume to a traditional resume format.
OLD SCHOOL CONTENT: Here's what should remain
Your full contact details
Always include your full mailing address INCLUDING your postal or zip code. Recruiters use a radial search by postal code tool to find qualified candidates closest to the job site first -- before going through a second round of searches. If your postal code isn't listed, you won't be found during this initial (and most critical) search if a recruiter found enough qualified candidates. Make sure to update your resume with your full contact details.
Work history content in chronological order
Make sure to update your resume so your work history is listed in chronological order, starting with the most recent role, and include these four key pieces of information: Project overview, quantifiable achievements, keywords and program languages used.
However, if you have an extensive work history spanning anything beyond 10 years, only include company name, dates and title on your resume. You could also include a bullet point indicating further details.
Make sure to list your post-secondary education and any continuing studies related to your field of interest beneath your work history section on your resume. Did you receive any certifications, professional designations, educational awards or other degrees? Be sure to your resume update include these as well.
A basic font with unified text
Getting fancy with your fonts can be frustrating for the reader, and can show a lack of judgement. Stick with something basic, and make sure all text is unified and only one colour.
WHAT TO REMOVE
Headers and footers
Not all Applicant Tracking Systems and parsers are created equal. An ATS can't read what's written within headers or footers, so if you've included your contact details within either, your resume won't be found. Instead, leave the headers and footers off and include your full contact details at the top of each page.
Recruiters and employers will conduct radial searches by postal code to find qualified candidates closest to the job site first, so if your postal code isn’t listed, your resume won’t show up.
Hobbies and interests
On professional resumes, this one can be a bit iffy, but if your hobbies and interests don't relate to the job you're applying to, you may want to leave them off your resume and save that valuable piece of real estate to list other quantifiable achievements instead.
References available upon request
Resume real estate is valuable, and recruiters and employers already assume you'll have references. So, leave the statement off the CV and fill the space with your quantifiable achievements instead.
WHAT TO REPLACE
Replace with: Headline
Replace a lengthy summary with an impactful headline. A recruiter or hiring manager will only spend up to seven seconds glancing at a resume before deciding to continue with or dismiss it, so you need to gain and keep their interest – quick!
Remove: .PDF format
Replace with: Word .doc
When applying to jobs through a staffing agency, always tailor your resume to each position you’re applying to, and then save it as a word document rather than a .PDF before sending. Recruiters must remove certain contact details from your resume before submitting to their client, and a word document is much easier and quicker to work with than a .PDF.
Remove: Statements like "responsible for” or “duties include”
Replace with: Action verb statements with quantifiable achievements
What you accomplished in previous roles is much more important that what you were hired to do. So, you need to demonstrate your accomplishments with quantifiable achievements.
Boring: Responsible for increasing social media traffic.
Better: Increased social media traffic by 30 per cent within the first 90 days, generating new business leads and a 5 per cent increase in conversions.
Remove: Overused clichés like “Quick learner” or “ Go-getter"
Replace with: Action verb statements with quantifiable achievements
Stating you're a quick learner or a go-getter means nothing without context. What did you learn, how did you learn, in what time frame, how did it help you achieve success in your work? Recruiters and hiring managers rely on quantifiable statements, so always ensure to use numbers, percentages and dates.
Similarly, a hiring manager expects you to want to achieve results and get along with co-workers, so it isn't necessary to say so on your CV. But using terms like "competitive environment" demonstrates an ability to produce under a level of pressure and achieve both individual and group goals.
NEW SCHOOL CONTENT: Here's what to add
Summary of technical skills
Direct the reader to your technical qualifications by including a bullet point list that details any program languages and/or technologies you’ve used. Although this information will be found within the body of your work history, it should also have a separate section on your resume.
Keywords are critical to your candidacy; because without them in your resume, the ATS won't find your skills or experience. Resume keywords are the skills and qualifications used in the original job description that need to be mirrored in your resume.
Link to online portfolio
If you’re applying to a creative role that will require you to include samples of your work, include a link to your online portfolio within the contact details section of your resume.
Social media handles
Similar to including your online portfolio, if you’re applying for a social media position, you may want to include professional social media handles you've delivered work under. These will give a real-time indication of your work and results.
When a recruiter receives 250 resumes in their inbox per corporate job opening, yours needs to stand out (for the right reasons), in order for you to get in for an interview. The global COVID-19 pandemic has presented a truly unprecedented situation. It's a trying time as we collectively navigate this new reality. First and foremost, we're all in this together, and we're here to help.