“Why aren’t more unemployed Americans seeking work?”
A question that has been stirring in the minds of public officials and business owners for several months, this query still remains ambiguous. The problem? There is no one simple answer—instead, there are dozens of them.
From concerns about the rising delta variant, to a severe shortage of childcare options, to staunch opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine, there is a slew of reasons why Americans are refusing to reenter the workforce. But one of the biggest hurdles? Job seekers are reluctant to update their resumes.
Yes, the daunting task of revising one’s resume is dissuading candidates from applying to new jobs. According to a recent study conducted by ResumeBuilder.com, 20 percent of respondents who aren’t looking for a new job said it’s because they didn’t want to update their resume. Although some may consider resume compilation to be an easy task, others are scared to address this formality within the job search process.
If you find yourself unemployed or looking for a new job and need to update your resume, I’ve got you covered! Here are ten of my favorite strategies that job seekers can use when revising their resumes.
Focus on your keywords
In today’s recruiting world, companies of all shapes and sizes rely on automated tools called applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help them parse candidate resumes. Upon identifying a position that you’d like to apply for, take a look at the job description and look for keywords that are contained within it. Weave these words or phrases into your resume to optimize your resume’s ranking within the ATS. You can even create a section at the top of your document called “Skills” to prominently display your abilities.
Be concise with experience
Rather than providing details on every job you’ve ever had, work to consolidate your experience by highlighting the positions that are most relevant to the role you’re applying for. The TA or HR manager that’s viewing your resume isn’t going to care about your summer lifeguarding gig that you had when you were in college. Focus on the “meat and potatoes” of your professional experience—the jobs that you’ll want to elaborate on in your interview.
Put your contact information at the top
Don’t complicate things with your resume. It’s always a good idea to place your phone number and email address at the top of your document. That way, the TA or HR manager that’s reading your resume will know how to contact you. Try to use an email address that you check regularly—not an account that you send all of your spam emails to! Candidates can also include a link to their LinkedIn profiles at the top of their resume, as well. By making it easier for the reader to find these important pieces of information, it’ll only improve your odds of success.
Experience comes before education
Job seekers should never list information about where they went to college before telling about the types of professional experience they have. Highlight your previous jobs before disclosing anything about your past academic career. Recruiters and HR managers will be more interested to learn about your work responsibilities, specialized skills, and unique abilities versus where you graduated from college.
Go easy on the eyes
Don’t choose a font—or font size—that’s bold and brash. Keep things simple on your resume by relying on modern fonts like Arial or Century Gothic in a 10 or 11 point size. It’s always a good idea to keep consistency throughout your resume, too. When you’re identifying your previous roles and names of former employers, you can bold or italicize this information to help it stand out in the eyes of the reader.
Talk about translatable skills
Applying for a new job in an entirely different industry than your previous position? Don’t fret about not having any relevant experience. Instead, center the focus of your resume on translatable skills that you will carry with you in your new role. You can also touch on research projects, thesis papers, or other relatable experiences to help explain why your application should strongly be considered for the job despite having limited professional exposure to the industry.
Use facts and figures
Looking to make a strong statement in the eyes of the person reading your resume? Fill your document with as many compelling stats and numbers as you can. How much revenue did you generate? How many people did you manage? How many articles did you write? Even if you don’t deal with numbers on a regular basis, find quantifiable aspects of your role that can be added to your resume.
Highlight your hobbies
While talent acquisition specialists are most interested in what you bring to the table as a professional, they may also be intrigued by your personal hobbies. Including a section at the bottom of your resume titled “Interests” could be a wise idea if you can tie what you do for fun back to why you’re a strong fit for the role.
Address your gaps
Resume gaps aren’t uncommon for candidates with small children or aging loved ones. As we’ve seen during the pandemic, many professionals have been forced to resign from their professional roles to take care of personal obligations. These job seekers can address these employment gaps at the top of their resumes. After outlining your most relevant skills and abilities, you can even provide a brief career summary to provide detail around the holes in your employment history.
Submit as a PDF
One of the last things to do before you’ve completed your resume? Save it, of course! Rather than submitting your document as a Word file, save it as a PDF so your formatting is not altered upon being opened on the hiring manager’s computer. In addition, it’s always a good idea to title the file by including your full name. Try to use a variation of “John Smith Resume” or “Resume – John Smith” in your final version.
Now that we’ve helped you update your resume, it’s time to shift your attention to revising your LinkedIn profile. Here are seven tips for active job seekers to improve their LinkedIn accounts.
For more advice for candidates exploring the labor market, check out the “Job Seekers” section of our blog.