In an ever-evolving job market, staying prepared and equipped with a strong resume is crucial for successfully navigating career transitions. Surprisingly, according to Zippia, while the number of layoffs since the start of 2023 has been relatively low, with just over 168,000 recorded, the previous year saw a staggering 15.4 million layoffs in the U.S. alone. These unexpected workforce changes left many individuals unprepared to reenter the job market, with outdated resumes being one of the major hurdles.
This article will explore five proven strategies I have learned from trusted recruiters and hiring managers. When working with clients on resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles, I employ these recommendations to help ensure they are well-positioned to land their first interview and secure their desired role.
What Your Resume Needs (and Doesn’t Need): Five Proven Strategies
It’s often said that your resume is the key to unlocking new opportunities and advancing your career. Whether you are actively job searching or content in your current position, having a strong, up-to-date resume is critical to your success. Your resume is a snapshot of your professional achievements, skills, and qualifications, showcasing your potential to prospective employers.
While you may not need to update your resume daily, it is essential to refresh and refine your resume regularly. According to an article by CNBC, updating your resume at the end of each fiscal quarter or once every three months, as well as after each performance review with your manager, is a great way to stay current and maintain a competitive edge.
To better understand what makes a great resume, I consulted with Susan Rosner Young, a seasoned marketer and talent acquisition professional currently working in Sales Operations for UNFI (United Natural Foods Inc.). She also consults on the side for career relaunch professionals. Rosner Young has over twenty years of experience in marketing, advertising, category management, and talent acquisition roles with companies including Target Corporation, Nordic Track, Martin Williams Advertising, Best Buy, SUPERVALU Inc., and Oracle USA.
Keep your resume to one or two pages max
According to Indeed, a resume should typically be one page in length, as employers highly value a concise and impactful document. However, there are certain circumstances under which a two-page resume is acceptable. The resume’s length becomes secondary if all the information included is important and relevant to the employer. The top priorities when writing your resume should be readability and relevance.
Rosner Young also emphasizes that if you are fresh out of college, a one-page resume may be all you have, which is acceptable. As a young professional, consider adding volunteer experiences to help showcase additional skills and experiences relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Remember, the goal is to concisely present your most compelling qualifications, capturing the employer’s attention and demonstrating your fit for the role. Trim unnecessary details and focus on the experiences and achievements that truly highlight your abilities and align with the job requirements.
Keep your resume simple and single column
In today’s visually-oriented world, it’s not uncommon for applicants to consider hiring a graphic designer to create visually striking resumes. However, while a visually appealing resume may catch the eye, it can often be counterproductive. Images, photos, multiple columns, and elaborate designs can often distract employers and hiring managers.
One crucial aspect to consider is the functionality of your resume within applicant tracking systems (ATS). Many companies utilize these systems to streamline hiring by scanning and filtering resumes based on keywords and relevant information. When you use two columns or add images, these systems may struggle to read the content properly, resulting in your resume being discarded or not adequately assessed. Your beautifully designed, artistic resume may inadvertently lead to missed opportunities, especially if a human isn’t doing a double-check.
Rosner Young says that the key here is to prioritize readability and compatibility. Opting for a single-column format ensures that your resume is easily scannable, allowing employers to grasp your qualifications and relevant experiences quickly. It also ensures that your resume is compatible with ATS, maximizing your chances of passing through the initial screening stages.
Remember, the primary goal of your resume is to effectively communicate your qualifications and stand out as a strong candidate. By keeping your resume single column and optimizing it for human readers and ATS, you ensure that your application is received positively, increasing your chances of securing that all-important first interview opportunity.
10 to 15 years of experience should suffice
Be selective and strategic about the work experiences you include. Unless you are a recent graduate or a senior executive with a long and illustrious career, limiting your resume to no more than five positions spanning 10 to 15 years is generally recommended. This ensures you focus on relevant and recent experiences showcasing your skills and achievements.
While most entry-level jobs may not seem directly connected to your current or desired career path, there are exceptions. If your first job is relevant to the position you are applying for, it can be beneficial to include it. This is especially true if you believe it will resonate with the decision-makers reviewing your resume. Including this early relevant experience can provide valuable context and highlight your journey toward your current professional goals.
However, strike a balance between relevance and space limitations. If you have limited space and need to prioritize more recent and impactful experiences, it may be appropriate to omit earlier positions less relevant to your current objectives.
Think beyond your job duties
Go beyond simply listing your job duties and responsibilities. Recruiters and hiring managers are interested in seeing how you drove results and made a positive impact in your past roles. According to Rosner Young, quantifying your performance provides specificity and credibility to your resume.
Using quantifiable metrics and numbers helps hiring professionals better understand the scope and effectiveness of your work. Instead of using generic phrases like “significantly increased new client acquisition,” provide concrete figures highlighting your achievements’ magnitude. For example, stating that you “oversaw a 45% growth in new client acquisition” precisely showcases the impact of your efforts.
Quantifying your performance provides specific information and enhances the credibility of your claims. It demonstrates your ability to drive results and adds tangible proof to your accomplishments. Hiring professionals can easily understand your success level and compare it to their own expectations or industry standards.
Ensure you have an optimized LinkedIn profile
Gone are the days when your resume needs to include your physical address at the top, right below your name. Many resumes list either the city or state where the candidate resides, or they list no location at all. Instead, most resumes include a link to the candidate’s LinkedIn profile.
In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is increasingly important in the job market. Your LinkedIn profile extends your resume, allowing potential employers to gather more information about your professional background and gain insights beyond what can fit on a traditional resume.
LinkedIn allows you to delve further into your job history and showcase experiences that may not make it onto your resume due to space limitations. It enables you to highlight additional skills, projects, and accomplishments that can paint a more comprehensive picture of your professional journey.
Recruiters and hiring managers are highly likely to visit your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you and assess your fit for a position. An optimized LinkedIn profile that aligns with your resume enhances your online presence and helps you make a positive impression.
To maximize your visibility on LinkedIn, you must be active and engaged on the platform. The more you engage, such as liking, commenting, and sharing posts, the more you appear in the feeds of your connections. This increased visibility keeps you top of mind within your professional network and can lead to valuable opportunities, such as referrals or recommendations.
Regularly sharing relevant articles, participating in professional discussions, and showcasing your work through posts or articles can help establish your credibility and increase your visibility among potential employers.
The Power of a Well-Crafted Cover Letter
I’d be remiss if I left out the significance of a cover letter. While there are many mixed opinions on whether you need one to begin with, the fact is that some application processes won’t let you submit your application without one. And to that end, a well-crafted cover letter can enhance your chances of standing out and securing an interview opportunity.
Submitting a cover letter can benefit your job application unless specifically instructed otherwise by the job posting. If the posting states that a cover letter is optional, it is a sign that including one would be a welcomed addition to your application. This is an opportunity to showcase your initiative and strong writing skills. Taking the time to write a thoughtful cover letter is advantageous, especially for competitive roles. But these letters must be well-written and can’t look like they were just thrown together to check a box.
It’’s beneficial to have a generic cover letter template ready. This template can serve as a starting point, and you can make necessary edits and customizations to align it with each job application. Remember to personalize your letter by addressing it to the hiring manager or relevant individual, and ensure that it complements the information presented in your resume.
Let Your Resume Help You Land the Interview So You Can Land the Role
Crafting a solid resume is a vital step in securing your first interview. Following the five proven strategies outlined in this article can increase your chances of standing out. Remember, your resume should be concise and focused and highlight your most relevant qualifications.
And don’t forget to optimize your LinkedIn profile to enhance your online presence. If you need assistance updating your resume or creating a compelling LinkedIn profile, contact Copywriting For You Corporation on Upwork or LinkedIn.