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5 ways your résumé should look different post-pandemic

These are the attributes employers are most interested in seeing on résumés as things begin to reopen.

5 ways your résumé should look different post-pandemic
[Source photo: :RossHelen/iStock]
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The pandemic dramatically changed the way we work, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that with those changes should come a few to your résumé as well.

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Whether you’re actively in the job market or just looking to keep your résumé up to date, there are a number of attributes employers are particularly interested in seeing on résumés these days, as well as a few longstanding norms that have recently been revised.

“Preferences are changing so quickly as we all try to navigate this new workspace,” says Marc Cenedella, CEO of Ladders, an online job search platform for six-figure roles.

Here are five ways you should update your résumé for the post-pandemic recovery period, according to the experts.

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1. Results are more important than ever

Career coaches have long advised candidates to emphasize results in their application materials, typically expressed through numbers, but Cenedella says most people didn’t follow that recommendation. “We review millions of résumés at Ladders, and they don’t,” he says.

Including specific results in your résumé was good advice before the pandemic, but Cenedella argues that in a more remote environment numbers are even more important.

“The pandemic forced us all to work remote, and as a result employers are looking for more self-sufficient people who are better able to be self-starters, and produce results even when they’re not being watched in the office,” he says. “The best way to demonstrate results, always and everywhere, is with numbers; numbers tell a story in business that is more effective, more persuasive, and more communicative about your past success.”

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Cenedella adds that numbers not only help tell a more accurate story and prove your ability to be productive regardless of the working environment, but also demonstrate a focus on delivering results for your employer.

2. Drop local references, but keep the general location

As work becomes more remote, your specific location becomes less relevant, but employers still need to know where you’re based. According to Brie Reynold, senior career specialist at FlexJobs, candidates should probably drop their street address from their résumé, not because of the rise in remote work, but because of potential security and privacy concerns. She does, however, recommend including where you’re based more generally.

“Your city, your state, or your province or your country, your general location, is still something that employers really do want to know,” she says. “It’s often for tax and employment law reasons, because they might be only set up to hire in one particular state or country, but also for things like insurance, or if it’s a job where you need a state-specific license.”

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While it’s important to let employers know which city or state you’re in, however, it’s important to remember that job opportunities are no longer as limited by geographical location. That is why Cenedella recommends dropping local references that might not be understood by prospective employers based elsewhere.

“Your résumé is addressing a broader audience than it was before, so if you’re based in Boise, and you have a lot of Boise-specific references in there, you might want to make sure that it’s more applicable to a general audience,” he says. “Mentioning the name of the college football team might not be recognizable to someone who doesn’t know Idaho.”

3. Showcase Remote-Specific Skills

Now that remote and hybrid work have become the norm in many industries employers tend to prioritize candidates that can work independently, but just saying you have experience working remotely often won’t be enough. Instead, Reynolds says it’s important to demonstrate a number of key skills that communicate an ability to work effectively from home in more subtle ways.

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For example, Reynolds says candidates should strive to communicate how they managed the shift to remote work, the challenges they had to overcome in order to be successful, and the specific skills they developed along thew ay.

Normally we’d say make sure you mention remote work next to the job title or in the location, or just briefly mention it somewhere, but this is really going into detail about that shift to remote work and how you did it really well,” she says. “Some of their bullet points—some of their accomplishments even—could be about their pivot to working from an office to working from home, how quickly they dealt with that, the processes they put in place, how they set themselves up for success.”

Aside from adaptability and resiliency, the other key skills category that employers are looking for in this more remote working environment, according to Reynolds, is strong communication. “Communication skills are going to be critical, especially as more employers adopt a hybrid work model,” she says. “Both written and verbal communication are kind of essential in that situation, whether you’re an employee, a manager, or just working on a team with fellow team members, you need to be able to regularly and clearly communicate with people.”

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4. Get Personal, But Not Too Personal

Résumés are traditionally designated for showcasing professional skills only, but as the lines between work and life continue to blur, it’s become more acceptable to use personal experience to demonstrate professional development, at least up to a point.

Reynolds explains that the pandemic forced a lot of workers to manage challenges in their personal lives, and so they shouldn’t necessarily shy away from referencing how they overcame those challenges in their résumés.

“People can now draw from the challenges they faced during the pandemic, whether they were work related or personally, to show the skills that they have in certain areas, especially in things like crisis management, emergency preparedness, and problem solving,” she says.

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Reynolds adds that career coaches traditionally advised against including personal information on résumés, but that perspective has changed since the pandemic. Now she recommends including some personal information, but only when it’s directly relevant to the role.

“Let’s say you put together an employee resource group to help your fellow team members with resources related to working from home with kids,” she says. “Even if it was outside the scope of your particular job, did you save people time? Reduce stress? You can show the impact there in a different way, and highlight some of your additional skills.”

5. Address Pandemic related Work Gaps Head On

Just as candidates have license to provide more personal information on their résumés than they did prior to the pandemic, they are also encouraged to be honest about any gaps in their employment during that period. According to David Meintrup, a career coach for organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, who has been helping candidates with their résumés for more than 20 years, it’s no longer taboo to describe why you took time away from work, especially during the pandemic.

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“There is now more empathy given, and a realization that there has been more responsibility needed with schools being closed, with closing down estates, with other things that people had to do,” he says. “There’s a lot more forgiveness and understanding for that than there has been in years past.”

Whereas candidates typically avoided addressing employment gaps on their résumés previously, Meintrup says they are now encouraged to do so directly. Instead of a gap in employment history, he recommends referencing any part-time or contract work that was completed, and describing any education or career development that was pursued.

“Sometimes people just don’t have the time for either of those because they’ve been a full time caregiver, so then they’re at a crossroads, ‘do I leave it blank or just be honest about it?'” he says. “The honesty piece shows, ‘hey, I had to do this,’ and you’re not disclosing any health conditions necessarily, but there’s more empathy given to that now.”

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Meintrup adds that some candidates won’t be comfortable referencing personal responsibilities on their résumé, and that’s okay. Those that are, however, shouldn’t shy away from describing any reason why they were unable to work during the last 16 months, even if the answer is somewhat personal.

About the author

Jared Lindzon is a freelance journalist and public speaker born, raised and based in Toronto, Canada. Lindzon's writing focuses on the future of work and talent as it relates to technological innovation, as well as entrepreneurship, technology, politics, sports and music.

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