How to Standout in a Pile of Resumes During an Economic Downturn
With unemployment rates the highest since the Great Depression and many companies scrambling to turn in-person job descriptions into virtual positions, how can you possibly make an impact if you’re job searching? Looking for a job during a crisis is tough, but with the right tools and approaches, you can make your way to the top of the list and steer clear of the “slush pile.”
First, consider how the employer is asking for resumes. If you have to submit your resume through an online system (or, worse, copy and paste it into various boxes), there’s a good chance the employer is using software to initially sort through resumes and a human won’t even see yours unless it makes the cut. This is an easy way for employers to make their job easier, but as a job candidate, it can be tricky.
Pleasing the Machine with Your CV
If you suspect that software will be looking at your resume first, it’s not about the presentation of your resume but rather if you’re using the key words and key phrases relevant to the job description. What are these key words? The answer is usually right in the job description. If you’re truly a good candidate for the role, it’s a good idea to regurgitate a reassembled job description back onto your resume while remaining truthful.
Also incorporate key words and key phrase variants (e.g. if a job description calls for digital marketing skills, incorporate that phrase into your resume but also include a variant such as online marketing). You have no way of knowing what words and phrases the software is programmed to flag beyond what’s in the job description, but working with variants will help you stand out as qualified whether it’s software “perusing” your resume or a real person.
Do Your Homework
It’s common knowledge during a job search to do your homework on a company before an interview, but this can also be helpful when crafting your resume. Explore the company’s website and social media to get a feel for their culture. This can also be a great resource for company buzzwords and phrases that you can also build into your resume.
Even if you think you have a good understanding of the company, such as if they are a big business in your area, you can still learn more about recent events, their responses to COVID-19 and other pressing issues like #BLM, and this will translate in your resume and cover letter as someone who fits the culture and cares enough to dig a little deeper.
Does this mean you’ll need to completely rewrite your resume for every employer? It depends. In the case of having to submit sections of your resume into an online system, perhaps. However, the more you apply, the more you will naturally create different iterations of your resume that might be directed towards different positions and skills that you possess. Save every version of your resume and file it as the customized version for specific job titles. You might be able to reuse these in the future with minimal, if any, tweaks.
How your resume looks can make you stand out in the right ways if you’re sending it directly to a person at the company. This is usually the case for smaller employers. Separate your resume into sections with clear headers. Choose a font that’s familiar and easy to read, such as Calibri or Arial. Include your full contact information including professional social media handles.
Send documents as a PDF, and getting as many eyes on it as possible to check for typos before sending it to employers is a must. Of course, hiring a professional resume writer is also a fast and guaranteed way to make your resume shine.
It’s never easy looking for a new job when the business or economic environment isn’t as good as it could be. Make sure to follow these techniques to help get your resume on the top of the list to get back into a job, and hopefully, a career.