How to Update Your Resume for Today's Job Market

What you need to do to ensure your resume works with current recruitment technology and gets into the hands of a hiring manager.

HIRE EXPERIENCE     |    Jan. 23, 2020

Technology has revolutionized nearly everything about the job search, and today's recruitment experience has changed along with it. Knowing how to update your resume is crucial to take advantage of recruitment technology, secure an interview and, ultimately, land a job.

An applicant tracking system (ATS) can detect your skills based on keywords in your resume, narrowing a pool of candidates based on how their resumes align with a specific role and a company's culture. Make sure you move past this first stage by following these key steps.

1. Keep it Simple

If you're submitting your resume and cover letter through an online system, you can assume it's going through an ATS. Beyond the basics, like avoiding typos, you'll want to use a legible font (think: Helvetica, Arial or Times New Roman) and simple, clear organization. Make sure to follow the requested format so the ATS can process your documents. For example, if the company asks for a PDF but you submit a JPEG, the system may not be able to read your resume.

2. Show, don't tell

Rework your resume so it highlights your accomplishments in terms of outcomes versus responsibilities. Although you do want to mention skills that qualify you for a given job, you also want to demonstrate results. When in doubt, use verbs like "improved," "trained" and "launched" to help you describe the results you produced.

For example, if you worked in a lab designing and conducting experiments, how many did you manage per year? What were the outcomes? If you managed a team, how many people did you oversee and how did the work your team performed contribute to the overall business? Did you grow sales by $50,000? Increase productivity by 30%? The more you can quantify accomplishments, the better.

3. Focus on what you Bring to the Table

Gone are the days of the objective statement. Instead of focusing on your goals and what you want, use your resume to show potential employers what you can do for them. You don't necessarily need to state this at the beginning, but you do want to frame your resume in terms of the value you bring.

At the end of the day, you're trying to convince prospective employers to hire you over all the other applicants. By demonstrating how you can strengthen their company, you can give yourself an edge over the competition.

4. Customize your Resume to the Job

Writing one resume and one cover letter for multiple jobs is a surefire way to have your materials ignored. Use the job description for each role, including desired qualifications and responsibilities, to tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly. Touch on each qualification in your resume, demonstrating how you have that skill. Use your cover letter to expand on your resume and desired skills listed in the job description and how you will help the company check the boxes.

It's also a good idea to review the company's values and use relevant words when they fit with your experience. For example, if the company values "innovation,” list innovative projects from your past roles. Include keywords from the job description in your resume, as well. For example, if Adobe Photoshop is a qualification, make sure you include the word "Photoshop." Although you may be proficient in the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite, you'll want to incorporate the words the employer uses.

5. Refresh your Social Media Presence

Make sure your social media footprint reflects your resume and the image you want to portray to potential employers. If your profiles are public, you can consider making them private. However, you're missing a huge opportunity if you're not using your social networks to connect with potential employers. For Facebook, you may consider using your profile as a professional platform that reflects your accomplishments and career.

Ask colleagues for recommendations on LinkedIn that will corroborate your skills and experience.  An employer wants to know the time they're investing in you, beginning with the hiring process, will be worth it. You'll also want to make sure your resume matches your profile. For example, if you mention experience from March 2016 to September 2019, make sure your resume doesn't say May 2016 to November 2019.

Remember to always double-check your resume and cover letter before submitting and read through all the instructions within the job posting one more time. You want to make sure you submit all requested materials.

If you've followed all the steps and you still feel like your resume isn't getting the attention it deserves, consider asking an industry recruiter for tips on resume updates that may help get it into the hands of hiring managers. You may be overlooking just a few simple keywords that make the difference between getting sidelined and getting hired.