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5 ways to reboot your résumé this fall

Make sure you follow these pointers, based on an analysis of more than 670,000 résumés.

5 ways to reboot your résumé this fall
[Photo: apichon_tee/iStock]
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Summer is officially over and the Great Resignation is underway. The disruptions of the pandemic have led many to rethink their jobs—and even their careers. A recent report says that one in three workers is considering heading for the exit, and six out of ten are contemplating entirely new careers.

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If you are considering a new job—or a new career—it’s time to do a résumé reboot. The latest research from career site Zety offers excellent advice for doing so. In its new report on résumé trends, Zety shares its findings from an analysis of more than 670,000 résumés.

This report shows there is every reason to provide a résumé narrative that is more carefully targeted and more expansive than you might have thought. To supercharge your résumé and draw recruiters to you, follow these five pointers:

 1. TAILOR EACH RÉSUMÉ

Overwhelmingly, recruiters favor a résumé tailored for the specific job you’re seeking. They are put off by generic documents that look like they’ve been sent out time and again.

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Despite this fact, Zety found that most candidates don’t bother to customize their résumés. Only 2% of job candidates in Zety’s study said they created five or more versions of their résumés. That’s quite shocking in light of the fact that most job seekers typically apply for upward of 100 to 200 jobs.

So in this tough job market—where only 10% of job seekers get interviews—give yourself every advantage and make certain your résumé is targeted carefully.

2. MAKE IT THE RIGHT LENGTH

When it comes to length, one size does not fit all.

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It used to be that the classic one-page résumé was a must. As such, Zety found that the vast majority of résumés it surveyed were one page. But today you’ll want to think again about what length your résumé should be. You have choices depending on how far along you are in your career.

If you’re just starting out, you likely have a career story that fits nicely on one page. In fact, it’s desirable to stick to one page if you’re early in your career. Otherwise, you may feel obliged to add filler words or “fluff” to make the two-page cut.

But if you are a midlevel or senior-level candidate, Zety’s report suggests that you’ll have significantly better results with a two-page résumé. In fact, the report says, “Recruiters are 2.9 times more likely to choose a candidate with a two-page résumé for management jobs.” Furthermore, the report finds, 77% of employers believe seasoned professionals come across as more experienced when using a two-page résumé.

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Thanks to COVID-19 and its impact, even high-level professionals may find that they need to account for gaps, career changes, side gigs, and other pivots. A two-page résumé provides the room to address your full career history, including your accomplishments and career trajectory.

And take the full two pages. If you leave part of the second page empty, you’ll look like you ran out of steam in your career.

3. INCLUDE THE BASICS

If you’re wondering what must be included on your résumé, fret no more. The gold standard, according to Zety’s study, consists of five must-have sections.

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  • Personal Information: 99% of résumés
  • Education: 99% of résumés
  • Work Experience: 97% of résumés
  • Résumé Summary or Objective: 95% of résumés
  • Skills: 95% of résumés 

4. SHARE YOUR SKILLS—SOFT AND HARD

It’s important that your résumé presents a full picture of your skills and shows how they align with the requirements of the job you’re seeking.

Soft skills are key in the workplace of the future and provide a crucial advantage, even in technical jobs. The Zety survey lists the areas most frequently noted and the proportion of résumés mentioning them: communications (14%), customer service (9%), project management (7%), time management (6%), and leadership (5%).

Use this checklist as a memory-jogger. If these skill sets are truly part of your background and are relevant to the job, include them. But be specific. Don’t say you are a “good communicator.” Instead, say you have “strong presentation skills” or you are a “collaborative leader.”

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The inclusion of hard skills will vary greatly depending on the position you’re seeking. If you’re working on chip manufacturing, you’ll have to show that you understand high-speed analogue and mixed-mode circuit design. But for a management position, such terms might sound like an exotic language. Many employers assume you’ll be at home with Microsoft Office, but Zety notes that 25% of résumés still include that qualification.

It’s also important to note any certifications you’ve achieved. Just 27% of résumés surveyed included those accomplishments but, according to Zety, certifications are “the single most provable method of demonstrating your knowledge.”

5. SHOW YOU’RE WELL-ROUNDED

Today’s world is undergoing rapid change in technology, the environment, management structures, and the very shape of the workplace. Employers are looking for people who have a creative side and a life outside of work.

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Reading, blogging, traveling, music, and sports are the most common hobbies listed. But don’t just list the topic—show how your hobby is relevant to your candidacy. For example, if you’re applying for a job in finance, you might put down some of the relevant books you’re reading. If you’re applying for a job as a software engineer, noting that you play a musical instrument will humanize you. If you’re a new graduate, list clubs you belonged to in school and how you contributed to them.

A friend recently shared with me the success she had in landing a high-pressure financial job on the trading floor of a bank by including the fact that she had taken up hockey in midlife and played competitively with both women and men.

Zety notes that only 17% of the résumés in its analysis discussed outside interests. Showing your breadth as an individual will help you land that next job.

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Finally, if you are fluent in a language other than English, note that too. It can be a plus in many jobs. In its study of résumés, Zety found the leading second languages noted were Hindi (19%), Spanish (16%), and French (11%).