Amid the coronavirus pandemic, some industries are thriving, while others are reeling. For many, this marks a refresh period that is ideal for devoting your energy to landing a new job.
If you’re a recent job hunter wondering where to begin, it may be a good idea to start with refreshing your resume, which you probably haven’t looked at since the last time you searched for a job. Ask yourself which elements are still serving their purpose and which are not.
In a difficult job market, you must be inventive. Use this unique moment to put together a resume that shows you are prepared for a new opportunity — and have the skills to make the transition.
Elevate your pandemic pursuits
The last year has been a whirlwind. Some of us felt motivated to check off every possible project on our to-do list, while others — faced with financial, caregiving or health concerns — tried our best to maintain our well-being.
If you have been able to gain a tangible skill during this unusual year, make sure to add it to your resume. Did you take up an intricate new hobby that requires great attention to detail? Hobbies that show off your strengths, newly acquired or otherwise, will help set you apart in this novel job search environment.
If you used time during the pandemic to volunteer or care for family, accentuate what you accomplished. Keep the descriptions short and straightforward, so you describe general responsibilities but don’t divulge too many personal details.
For volunteer activities, describe how your work helped you build new skills — especially soft ones. You can always provide more details about the significance of these experiences — drawing connections to the role you’re hoping to land — in a follow-up interview.
Leverage these displays of grit and endurance to your advantage. A pandemic-born entrepreneurial venture or a new certificate from an online course can count toward transferable skills.
Surpass the application robots
Applicant-tracking systems are intended to find the most qualified candidates and place them in front of recruiters. Of course, this isn’t always what happens.
If your resume doesn’t follow certain formatting guidelines, it may get passed over — even if you’re qualified for the role. To get past these finicky mechanisms, one easy step is to drop keywords into your resume directly from the job description.
Explain any gaps in employment
When explaining a gap on a resume, such as one caused by the pandemic, be honest. If you are forthcoming about stepping back from a role because of caregiving responsibilities, or getting laid off because you worked in a struggling industry, a hiring manager will likely be understanding.
Also consider that gaps in your resume were common even prior to the pandemic. A gap can easily emerge if your company went through a merger and acquisition, and your role suddenly became redundant.
As workforce development director Thom Kleiner says, doubt “is the worst thing” you can insert into a recruiter’s mind. Avoid this by clearly explaining your circumstances.
Show off your secondary sources
Enhance your resume by pointing to skills that show your value off the paper.
If you’re a professional cinematographer, attach a file of your reel. If you’re a writer, share clips of your recent work.
A resume can operate as a sign post to other accomplishments, but it cannot explicitly provide these receipts of your achievements.
Think of these extra additions as “proof of skill,” akin to completing an assignment during an interview — except you’re already set to hand in your work.
This evidence of career accomplishments can be sent along with a resume or indicated on paper with a shortened hyperlink URL.
Guide a recruiter’s eyes through focused design
Simplicity is key when trying to draw a recruiter’s eye to your resume. To improve your chances of getting noticed, go for a minimalist design and keep everything well organized.
Don’t use distracting font types and visual flourishes. You may think these equivalents of flashing neon lights will set you apart. But in reality, too much embellishment overcomplicates your resume and creates a poor first impression.