The Modern-day Resumé – 7 Tips to Consider

I was part of an interview panel last month and six months ago. I also conducted the first-cut for a job vacancy that attracted 80+ candidates. So, it’s safe to say that I have seen my share of resumés in this year. I am not a human resources (HR) expert, but I was considered a subject matter expert for these job searches. The resumés I read varied from graphical, bulleted styles to standard, USA Jobs-generated ones. I found myself wondering what is the “perfect” resumé and then I heard a radio personality toss out the question, “What does the modern-day resumé look like?” I thought that I would try to find out from the experts.

Your Calling Card

We have been taught to use the resumé as your calling card, a snapshot of who you are, your brand. But should your resumé do more? In a recent CNN Business story, certified resumé writers and professional career coaches provided some key insights. Recruiters, or in my case non-HR expert resumé screeners, do not have much time, so we do what most people do, we skim the headlines. Recruiters spend an average of six to seven seconds reviewing a resume! I have to say that I did spend considerably more time reading each resumé. But I don’t do this for a living. I’ll leave that to the experts.

Seven Tips for a Modern-day Resumé

Next time you need to update or submit your resumé, consider these tips:

  1. Keep it simple: Fancy does not mean better. Unless you are applying for a job in the creative sector, do not get hung up on making it pretty. Accuracy is quite different. Provide the essentials upfront – your name, the city and state you live in, your email, phone number, LinkedIn profile and a value statement/summary if you’ve been in the working world for a while.
  2. Consider a clean format: Resumés that feature clear sections with heading titles ranked high in screening reviews. Using bold titles and bulleted accomplishments can lead to success in capturing a recruiter’s attention.
  3. Think before including a photograph: We are human and humans are inherently biased. According to a 2022 study in Emerald Insight, “Initial screening of a job applicant’s credentials while concurrently viewing the individual’s photograph is likely to activate subconscious evaluation bias, produces inaccurate applicant rating.”
  4. Provide a measurable brand statement: Consider crafting a summary statement that shows what you will bring to the position. Strengthen it by providing a specific, measurable example of something you have done.
  5. Include concrete examples of your past experience: Don’t simply rely on a job title linked to a place of employment to show how you are right for the job. A job title at one place does not necessarily translate to that same job title at another place. Rather, put context into what you did and be sure to show your success in that role by including specific examples.
  6. Avoid an objective statement: Companies want to know what you can do for them, not what you aspire to achieve. So, take time to focus on a narrative that makes sense for the position.
  7. Remember the basics: Check for spelling errors. Don’t forget your contact information. Take time to tailor your resumé. This also will help you get past the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that some recruiters use today.

Update your resumé to beat the robots and reel in the humans!

No doubt job searching is just as stressful today as it was years ago. But the job seeking game has changed quite a bit, and if you don’t know the current best practices it can be easy to get left behind. Get rid of the old standby methods of job searching and embrace today’s trends. So, write for both the robots (to get past the ATS) and the humans to provide context and showcase your best you.

Good luck!

Stacie M. Rivera, PhD, MPH, APR, has 25+ years’ experience in communications. She is a public affairs specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs. She holds several accreditations and certificates including Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Integrated Marketing Communications certificate from PRSA, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion certificate from the University of Florida. She is a graduate of the Excellence in Government Fellows Program and an instructor with the West Virginia University College of Media Online Programs and with the School of Communication & Design, Loyola University New Orleans. Views are personal.

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