Job seekers in 2021 face a challenging dichotomy. They must factor technology into the resume reading and processing process, apply a few tried-and-true lessons from the world of sales, and weave in good old-fashioned networking to get their resume in the right hands.
As in year’s past, resumes must appear modern in content and format – and be easy to read QUICKLY. To stand out in 2021, many trends from 2020 still apply, but a few new ones have made an appearance.
Here are the Top 5 to Incorporate NOW:
#1 Take a Hint from Sales – Be Clear on Your Brand
Successful sales professionals know they can’t pitch a product or a service without understanding what makes it attractive to the consumer. Likewise, you can’t write a compelling resume if you don’t know what makes you attractive to the reader/hiring manager/decision-maker.
To crystallize your brand, think about accomplishments from past roles, and zero in on those that earned you recognition, praise, awards or perhaps even got you promoted or recruited into a new role. These responses will serve as the foundation of your personal brand or professional reputation.
Some questions to consider:
- Why you versus your competition?
- Is there something you’ve achieved time and time again in each role?
- Have you moved the needle on growth, efficiency or client/employee satisfaction?
- Did you bring in new clients, new business, repair or build strong relationships?
Your responses, when included after a career headline and weaved in with job posting requirements, helps the reader see how you are well-suited for targeted roles.
Here are two examples of powerful resume summary statements where there is no doubt about the candidates value OR brand:
#2 Second Lesson from Sales – Numbers Speak Louder than Words
After understanding what differentiates a product or service to the customer, sales professionals know that data and numbers go a long way toward backing up claims made or closing the deal. The same goes for resumes.
When it comes to helping a reader connect the dots as to what you can do for a company, nothing resonates more loudly than hard data.
Let’s compare the following 2 examples that rephrase the same achievement:
Recruit, develop, and manage a team of six representatives while growing revenue and key accounts.
Built ground-up field sales team of six. Leveraged network spanning the NE to negotiate contracts with leading GPOs and IDNs against competition with 2X larger sales forces.
Demonstrated initiative, salesmanship, and relationship-building skills while managing eight sales representatives charged with promoting and selling XXX Urology Table products. Achieved revenue growth to $6.5M.
Grew annual revenues $0 to $6.5M in 3 years across a six-state NE territory as XXX’s #1 ranked rep nationally for Urology Table Sales.
Adding figures or data to the sentence eliminates the need for descriptive adjectives that have lost their punch over the years due to overuse, and provides powerful details that otherwise would never have come out.
If you’re not in a direct sales role, or if your company doesn’t keep accurate track, there are lots of ways to uncover powerful numbers. Here are a few questions to help you discover your key numbers:
1. Did I save my company money?
2. Did I save my company time?
3. Did my company change in any way (# of employees, locations, countries, profits)?
4. Did I improve morale (employee or customer)?
5. Have I helped people to get promoted?
6. Has my role grown/responsibility increased?
Putting numbers to these responses can help you tell a story that is grounded in data.
#3 Make Sure Your Resume Can be Read in Print & Screens of All Sizes
Today, almost 100% of first-time reads of your resume will occur on some sort of a screen, and the numbers of folks comfortable reading your resume for the first time on a mobile device continues to grow.
If your resume ever does get printed out, it likely won’t happen until the 3rd or 4th round.
Why is this important to understand? While resumes designed for the screen are easy to read in print, the reverse isn’t true.
Resumes designed for print reads are tough to read online. Moreover, the smaller the screen size, the tougher it is to skim. Lastly, it is human nature to skip something that is tough to read – especially when pressed for time.
These two techniques will facilitate a powerful skim-read on screens of all sizes:
- Bullets v. Blocks:
People reading a document online have a hard time skim-reading large blocks of text – a challenge that increases as a screen size grows smaller. Replace paragraphs with bullets no longer than three lines that highlight your achievements.
- Front-Load the Good Stuff
Unlike print or book reading, where we start at the top left corner and then travel from left to right and top to bottom, on screens, we are extremely “jumpy” which means we start reading on the left (because that’s what we are used to) and then jump around to whatever grabs our attention!
This means you must front-load every sentence so that the most important part of whatever you’re trying to convey appears at the beginning – because there’s no guarantee the reader will get to the end.
Here’s an example:
Identified, strategized and sold system-wide IDN purchasing agreement, driving a system-wide upgrade and conversion to the XXX defibrillator line. Achieved 121% growth over target in the first two quarters.
Achieved 121% growth over target in first two quarters by securing spot within XXX portfolio during GPO negotiations as region’s first Director of Strategic Accounts.
#4 Bypass Submitting Your Resume as Your First Point of Entry
Somewhere between 80% and 84% of all roles are landed through professional networking, according to a 2019 CNBC article and a 2020 Review 42 article. Of equal importance, a 2018 Jobscan article indicates 98% of Fortune 500s and an increasing number of small and mid-sized businesses rely on applicant tracking system (ATS) to filter and organize the resumes that come in for jobs they have posted.
This means your best bet of landing is to find out about a role through a network connection, then get asked to submit your resume through a company’s online portal.
In other words, resumes in 2021 will most likely be read first by a human, then by software, and then again by a human.
The data is proof positive it’s more important than ever to spend the majority of your time identifying companies of interest and people you know (or need to get to know), engaging in informational interviews and relationship-building discussions, and just a sliver of your job search time applying online.
#5 Factor in COVID – the Impact & Aftermath
Addressing a COVID Layoff
Historically, there has been reason to worry that a gap in your resume will reflect poorly on you if you’ve lost your job. With COVID causing companies across industries to conduct widespread furloughs and layoffs – hiring managers and recruiters by and large have shown more grace.
That being said, don’t assume because your job ended in 2020 due to COVID that people will automatically “get it.” Instead, explain the reason behind the layoff – and ideally have something to show for the downtime (i.e., professional development, upskilling).
Supporting Company During COVID
Most industries had to pivot in some shape or fashion to a remote or #WFH environment. If you contributed to helping the company make the pivot, or survive in the face of industry threat, speak up!
Resumes in 2021 must show how you can support a company during good times (pre-COVID) and bad (COVID).
Of equal importance, if job postings mention remote work technology proficiencies (anything from Zoom to Google Docs or SharePoint), be sure to include them in your resume.
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