If you had asked any career coach for advice a couple of years ago, they’d likely have encouraged you to focus on landing your next job before quitting your current one (unless there was a good reason, of course). That’s because—whether or not it’s fair—it’s typically been easier to find a new job when you’re already employed. In addition, most people didn’t want to risk a lengthy job search without the safety net of a steady paycheck.
Undeniably, however, times have changed. Thanks to a combination of factors, workers are quitting their jobs in droves—with many giving their notice before securing their next role. According to the Labor Department’s latest report, a record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November alone.
If you have joined the Great Resignation and quit your job before securing a new one, there’s no need to highlight this information when updating your résumé and cover letter. Since many employers are struggling to fill their open positions, they are less likely to get hung up on your current employment status.
In fact, a recent survey from TopResume found that a majority of employers and recruiters do not consider a substantial employment gap (lasting 12 or more months) to even be a red flag, given the current job market conditions.
Instead, use these tips to focus on demonstrating why you’re qualified for the role, as well as a good fit for the organization.
Outline your qualifications
The best way to stand out in a pool of applicants is to make sure your résumé and cover letter clearly outline your qualifications and interest in a particular position. Review your résumé with the job description in mind to ensure you’re highlighting your relevant skills and incorporating some of the same verbiage you see in the job posting to describe your experience and accomplishments.
This approach will help you not only catch the attention of a hiring manager or recruiter, but it will also ensure your application makes it past the company’s applicant tracking system—or ATS, for short—which screens out approximately 75% of online applications.
Reframe your experience
A recent FlexJobs survey of active job seekers found that about half were searching for roles outside their current field. If you left your job with the goal of transitioning to a new industry or career, it’s important to consider what your résumé is conveying about you and your capabilities. The last thing you want to do is include unrelated industry jargon or emphasize irrelevant skills that scream “I’ve never done this type of work before!”
Instead, focus on translating your previous experience into terms prospective employers will appreciate. Swap out any language that is specific to your prior industry with more generic terms. For example, if you wanted to transition from automotive sales to something in e-commerce, change any mentions of cars to something more generic like “product” or “units,” so the reader focuses on your accomplishments and the skills you utilized, rather than dwelling on the fact that your experience is from a different field.
In addition, consider omitting certain details that are irrelevant for your new career goals and adding other experience—such as volunteer activities, passion projects, or side gigs—that showcase your most desirable qualifications.
Illustrate your value
Employers want to see more than a list of your skills and a timeline of your education and experience. They want your résumé to prove that you’re good at what you do. Support your claims by including specific examples, figures, or case studies that illustrate your abilities. Wherever possible, quantify your contributions and achievements to show the value you’ve created for your past employers.
If your recent roles have been in more of what we call a “doer” job, you can still describe your experience in ways that effectively showcase your talents to employers. It’s especially important to list your most recent accomplishments if you quit your job because it assures the reader that you weren’t leaving due to performance issues.
Highlight your flexibility
If a flexible work arrangement is a priority for you, look for opportunities on your application to show employers that you are both interested in and highly capable of working in a virtual or hybrid work environment. For example, in your work history, indicate which parts of your experience (and/or achievements) took place while working in a flexible or remote environment.
You can also add a line to your cover letter that explains that you’re comfortable working remotely, proficient at leveraging various digital platforms to both communicate and collaborate with colleagues and clients and that you have a dedicated home office or workspace with a reliable, high-speed Wi-Fi connection. This is still considered an important requirement for many corporations who’ve chosen to keep their employees working remotely or are adopting a hybrid office model this year.
Share your vaccination status (if you’re comfortable)
According to a recent study, one in three hiring managers automatically eliminate résumés that don’t include a COVID-19 vaccination status—and a growing number of job postings now list being vaccinated as a requirement for employment.
Disclosing your vaccination status on your resume and LinkedIn profile is a personal choice. However, if you’re vaccinated against COVID-19 and comfortable sharing that information, it’s best to add this detail to your personal branding materials, so you are less likely to be passed over for opportunities by employers who’ve prioritized this requirement. It can be as simple as adding the phrase, “Fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” to the end of your résumé’s professional summary and your LinkedIn profile’s “About” section.
Explain why this opportunity is a good fit
If you recently resigned from your job, it’s important to explain what you learned from the experience and how it’s shaped your current goals. While much of this conversation will likely take place during the interview process, there are ways to incorporate some of this information into both your cover letter and your résumé’s career narrative.
Instead of focusing on why you left your job, include a line in your cover letter and your résumé’s professional summary that explains why you’re passionate about working for a company that possesses certain values or qualities—whatever is most important to you. The more you can highlight what you know about the company and how the group fits both your personal work style and core values, the better.
In addition to conducting online research about the company, also tap your network for connections who currently or previously worked there to provide insights that can help you further tailor your application.
Amanda Augustine is the resident career expert for TopResume, and its sister brands, TopInterview and TopCV. She is a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and résumé writer (CPRW). Follow Amanda on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for her latest advice.