Seems like just yesterday, employers were fighting tooth and nail to find employees. Today they are fighting to keep their businesses.
People are being laid off and furloughed left and right. Unemployment claims processing is log jammed and millions are waiting for that stimulus check to hit their direct deposit.
The most important thing right now is to stay home, stay healthy, mask up, and think positive. Businesses are going to hire again in the hopefully not-too-distant future.
We at simplicityHR by ALTRES believe that the inevitable upswing is going to create new opportunities for those ready to seize the moment. As a community, we are going to get through this dark time and hiring will resume at or near previous levels. Thanks goes in part to the federal government for creating incentives for employers to get people working again soon.
We realize that not everyone is experiencing life under the stay-at-home order in the same way.
Should you find yourself in mindset to think strategically about your next career steps, may we suggest taking a moment to polish up your resume and social media profiles? When the upswing eventually happens, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.
How to get your resume in shape
Your resume can decide your fate in seconds. With applicant tracking systems (ATS)—the software recruiters rely on to manage the hiring process—your resume must pass a software prescreen first before making it in front of a recruiter’s eyes. And if it does, some recruiters might only spend a few seconds to evaluate your resume.
Here are some tips on how to get your resume in the best shape possible to put you in the best place possible when hiring restarts.
Evaluate your resume with fresh eyes
Can you find your most recent resume? How’s it look? Make sure all the information is up-to-date and accurate. Also, you hear it all the time because it’s true: spelling and grammar matter. More than one job application has been derailed because of an unfortunate typo. Use a spell-checking tool (there are many free ones online) and have a friend review it for you.
Check out these helpful tips from the job experts at ALTRES Staffing: Resume Deal Breakers and How to Avoid Them.
Keep it short and focused
Modern resumes should focus on content and brevity. Recruiters don’t have the time to figure out every candidate in depth, so make sure to lay out your strengths for them. Make your resume easy to skim and limit it to one page, or two pages if you are applying for an executive position.
- Offer them a track record of your past accomplishments.
- Only list the last five to 15 years of relevant experience.
- Use a reverse chronological order, listing the most recent experience first.
- Think quantifiable results! Nothing speaks for a candidate more than seeing their achievements rather than their duties.
Highlight relevant keywords
To narrow down candidates, applicant tracking systems (ATS) and recruiters are looking for specific keywords and phrases that match the job description. Study the job description and company website to get a good idea of what phrases and keywords are commonly used and incorporate them into your resume in a natural way.
But beware, don’t just stuff your resume with keywords! While it might seem tempting to trick the ATS, keyword stuffing is a known hack that recruiters will detect immediately.
Make your resume machine readable
Don’t let the applicant tracking system (ATS) be a roadblock in your job search! Optimize your resume to make it machine readable with these simple steps.
- Skip headers and footers. They are hard to decipher for some applicant tracking systems and important information might get lost.
- Choose fonts carefully. To ensure the ATS recognizes your text, use a sans serif font (e.g. Arial, Calibri, and Helvetica) instead of a serif font (e.g. Times New Roman and Cambria).
- Keep your format simple. Avoid complicated formatting, design, or graphics. Use round bullet points rather than arrows.
- Tailor your resume. If you fail to tailor your resume to the job and don’t incorporate important keywords that match the job description, you will not make it past the ATS system.
- Spellcheck. ATS software won’t be able to interpret misspelled words. While recruiters might excuse an error, the applicant tracking system often won’t.
- Choose the right file type. Unless stated otherwise, upload a Word document instead of a PDF file to career sites that use applicant tracking systems. The software can decipher Word documents more accurately than PDFs.
Don’t worry about references
There is no need to include references on your resume. While references are important to provide at a later stage, they take up important space which you should use to really highlight your skills.
Finalize the resume with education, certificates, awards, or training. If you are recently graduated and have limited work experience, list your education at the top, otherwise the bottom of the page is fine.
Review your LinkedIn profile and other social media
While not an official resume, recruiters are definitely looking at your LinkedIn profile to get a sense of your skills and experience. From your headshot to the headline on your page, there are lots of things you can do to make your profile attractive to recruiters.
You should also Google yourself and make sure that anything that comes up represents you well. The easiest thing to do is set any public social media profiles to private.
Try not to stress!
Easier said than done, we know. Obviously, your health and that of your family and friends is the most important thing right now. Do what you need to do, and what you can do, and we will see you again on the upswing.