Millions of Australians have been left out of a job or working reduced hours due to the coronavirus pandemic – but this could be the time to breathe new life into the old resumé, experts have said.
Though there’s more competition in the job market than ever, the latest Seek data has revealed an uptick in job ads that hint that the employment market is starting to open up again.
But if you’re on the hunt for a new role, there are a few housekeeping items you need to get sorted first – and one of those is to revamp your resumé.
Also read: This is the best font for your resumé
Not sure where to start? North Carolina-based resumé writing expert Matt Warzel revealed his top tips on what your resumé should look like:
1. The flow has to make sense
“The resumé needs to be logical first and foremost. If the reader is crinkling their forehead, you've lost the initial battle,” Warzel told Yahoo Finance.
Be sure to include relevant keywords, and back up your achievements with metrics and “quantifiable content” such as KPIs. Write it pragmatically and, importantly, don’t waffle.
“Stick to brevity while making those bottom-line accomplishments shine.”
2. Champion your transferable skills
Research has found that recruiters only spend 7.4 seconds on your resumé – so first impressions do count.
“The key to stand out among the competition is to ensure you set the tone in the first top half of the resumé with what you want and what you offer, any key buzzwords that speak to your abilities to transition into those new roles seamlessly, and any transferable skills and accomplishments that directly relate to this new role,” Warzel said.
When describing your roles and your experience, don’t just outline your tasks. Rather, speak about your achievements – preferably with numbers. If you exceeded sales targets by 30 per cent, say so; if you improved efficiency by 75 per cent, say that; or if you’ve doubled social media followers over the span of a year, note it down.
“This will make sure you are letting the employers know that you are concerned with what they are concerned with – either making them money or saving them money.”
If you’re in the middle of transitioning to a new industry or sector, identify what value you might have to a prospective employer, find some shared passions in common, and identify transferable skills and accomplishments you can highlight to hiring managers.
3. Freshen up your LinkedIn
But don’t just update your resumé – make sure it’s reflected in your job-seeking and LinkedIn profiles, too. Use the ‘summary’ or ‘about’ section of your resumé and LinkedIn profile to amplify what you’re capable of, and how you'll be able to transfer seamlessly into the new role based on your previous experience.
Your ‘skills’ and ‘summary’ sections of your resumé should be about four to seven sentences. Detail relevant accomplishments and also mention any courses you’ve taken to transfer to the role you’re applying for.
“For instance, a teacher trying to transfer into corporate/marketing may be able to discuss training, performance reviews, and documentation handling. Maybe [include] some sentences communicating his or her ability to handle branding and advertising from some tasks he or she completed in school,” said Warzel.
If there’s one rule you should keep in mind, it’s this: cut the fat.
“Hiring managers and recruiters are sharp and can see through a lot of the fluff. If I am reading a resumé, I am concerned about the candidate's credentials, qualifications and work history.”
4. Your qualifications matter
The logical flow of your resumé should champion your qualifications and prove you’re a strong candidate for the job, Warzel said.
“Think of a layout including a summary, key skills/buzzwords, key contributions, experience section, education/certifications, and affiliation/volunteerism,” he said.
It also doesn’t hurt to be very pragmatic. “Show the hiring manager you care about their company's money.”
Don’t forget about your transferable skills, and highlight key proficiencies that will help the hiring manager understand what abilities you have that will enable you to hit the ground running with the new role with minimal training.
According to Warzel, there are two types of resumés: the traditional resumé format, where the candidate lists their experience up top, or a ‘career change’ resume format where skills, qualifications, credentials and problem-action-result points take precedence.
“It draws eyeballs to the important transferable items first. I stick to [the] traditional format when the client has a solid work history. A shaky work history usually means a functional resumé format to help offset some of the red flags.”
After doing some research (see next point), be on the lookout for what education opportunities there are, said Warzel.
“Seek out academic programs that can help train and prepare you for your new role while you’re in limbo. Find some new career job openings and the minimal qualifications in each, identify the possible credentials you may need to better position yourself in this new role, and find online institutions that you can acquire these credentials, and list them onto your resumé.”
Membership groups and industry networking opportunities will also help you fast-track your connection to the industry and even find a mentor or industry veteran who can help and guide you.
5. Do your homework
If you’re undergoing a career change, make sure you do as much research as possible into the field and position you’re applying for, Warzel said.
“You need to get a feel for the way the industry and respective companies function in the world, the services they provide to others, and the types of jobs out there in that industry that could pose as a potential new career,” he said.
Helpful tools in this regard are Google News, Google alerts, Glassdoor, Indeed and LinkedIn. For Australians, PayScale.com gives a glimpse of salary averages in various industries, including specific companies.
“Using this research can be a good way to spot industry and job keywords (for the core competencies and summary sections), role responsibilities (for the experience section), and important transferable contributions (for the accomplishments section) for inclusion on your resumé,” he said.
6. Think like a recruiter
Finally, think about your situation from the hiring manager’s perspective. At some point in the day, they have to be pulled away from their day-to-day duties to review resumés, an open position that will either cost money or isn’t making money by being vacant.
“When they find an ideal candidate, sometimes it's more of a cultural fit if they know they can train someone rather quickly. So trust that if it's supposed to happen, it will. If not, keep looking for opportunities in this new space,” he said.
According to Warzel, your other options are to volunteer, offer to work for free to learn the ropes, or join an online community to engage with and learn more about the industry.
“Prove you can do the job, and a good job at that. Offer value and solutions, not abilities or skills,” he said.
“Everyone can ride a bike, but not everyone can ride a bike 60 miles to raise money for a charitable cause that was about to go bankrupt.”