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How the résumé business has changed amid the Great Resignation (and what that means for you)

TopResume’s Amanda Augustine says “career-advancement opportunities” replaced “day-to-day work” for the first time as one of the top three priorities for 2022. Here’s how your résumé can reflect that.

How the résumé business has changed amid the Great Resignation (and what that means for you)
[Source illustration: Yuriy Altukhov/Getty Images]

Undeniably, the past two years have brought about many changes to the job market. Spurred on by a global pandemic and subsequent recession, individuals across all professions began reevaluating many aspects of their lives.

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Business leaders watched as millions of employees left their jobs in 2021 to chase their entrepreneurial dreams, explore a different career path, switch to a new industry, or try their hand at a fully remote job in another part of the country. 

Now, as employers reopen their doors, mask mandates continue to lift, and more employees join the Great Resignation, the needs of today’s job seekers continue to evolve. It’s no longer about landing “any job” that will supply a steady paycheck; here at TopResume, we’re increasingly seeing more résumé clients deciding to invest in their careers to land that “dream job.”

Having spent the past 15 years of my career in the résumé-writing and career-services business, I have learned that, while there will always be people in need of expert résumé-writing services to realize their career goals, each shift in the job market tends to spark changes to our clientele, their needs, and the overall résumé-writing business.

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Here are three of the biggest changes the résumé-writing business has seen amid the Great Resignation and what it means for employers and job seekers alike.

Moving up, not out

While there’s lots of talk about wanting to take advantage of this strong job market to explore new career paths, the reality is that we’ve seen little change over the past few years in the percentage of people seeking résumé help to completely change careers. Instead, there’s a growing percentage of customers who wish to “climb the corporate ladder” and advance their careers—5% more than before the pandemic began. This doesn’t come as a surprise: When TopResume asked prospective clients what matters most when choosing their next job, “career-advancement opportunities” replaced “day-to-day work” for the first time as one of the top three priorities for 2022, along with “company culture” and “salary and bonus.” 

Employers who foster a company culture that invests in employee development and pride themselves on promoting from within will be well-positioned to attract candidates who are in search of job opportunities that offer room for growth. 

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Professionals seeking a better title, more responsibility, or a bigger paycheck as part of their new role should position their résumé for this next step in their careers by illustrating how they’ve continued to acquire relevant hard and soft skills, assume increasing responsibility, or find ways to gain experience or knowledge outside of work to become a more attractive candidate.

In addition, it’s important to show employers that you’re a strong performer by highlighting the output of your duties: your contributions, accomplishments, and awards. Even if your position doesn’t give you the opportunity to produce quantifiable results, consider how your performance has been acknowledged or rewarded at the company (e.g., you were asked to train new hires, you were always assigned the customers requiring the most attention, your temporary job turned into a permanent position) and list those details in your work history. 

Remote or bust

At the beginning of the pandemic, those who sought remote jobs were often looking for them out of necessity; thanks to lockdown orders and school closures, anyone not searching for work as an essential worker had to assume they would be working remotely for the foreseeable future and would need a résumé that supported this goal.

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However, as many businesses have begun to re-open their offices and require employees to resume full-time in-person work, professionals are quitting in droves and seeking remote work opportunities elsewhere. Since companies began to post their return-to-office dates, requests to write résumés for remote work—especially from those who are currently employed—have dramatically increased.

Employers who are offering full-time remote work or implementing a hybrid work arrangement should clearly state this fact in their job descriptions and consider posting the opportunities on job boards that either specialize in remote jobs or allow you to classify the job’s location as virtual (if applicable).

Candidates seeking remote opportunities or more flexible working arrangements should edit their résumés to emphasize previous work-from-home experience or virtual education, highlight soft skills hiring managers seek in remote employees (e.g., self-discipline, tech savviness, self-motivation, effective time-management), and include a list of the tools and platforms they’ve used for virtual communication and collaboration. 

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In addition, consider mentioning in your cover letter and during the interview process that you’re interested in and equipped to work from home with a dedicated workspace and a fast, reliable internet connection.

Keeping options open

Given the current worker shortage and the most job listings available in recent memory, many professionals are using this opportunity to target more than one type of job during their search. For example, clients who’ve worked in two distinct industries or fields over the course of their career are requesting a résumé that could work for either of those directions. Others aren’t sure what type of job they want next and are asking for a generic résumé that can be used for any application that’s of interest. 

Unfortunately, both of these approaches to résumé-writing tend to backfire. The most effective résumés are always written with a specific goal in mind. When the job goals are clear, your résumé writer can do a better job of tailoring the document and optimizing it with the appropriate keywords to help you get past the dreaded “hiring bots,” i.e., the applicant tracking systems (ATS), and impress the right employers. If you want to keep your options open and apply for positions from more than one career track, then you’ll likely need multiple versions of your résumé, each positioned with a different goal in mind. 

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While there’s nothing wrong with having a more generic “foundational résumé” that isn’t customized for a particular job listing, it is an issue if you have no idea what you want to do or you’re still considering a major career change. Do yourself a favor and do some legwork on your own or with a career coach to inventory your skills and interests, research the job market, and get a better idea of the type of role you’d like to pursue before enlisting the help of a résumé writer. A little work upfront will make your overall job search shorter and more effective in the long run.

When it comes to approaching the job market amid the Great Resignation, employers and job seekers need to consider one another’s needs and effectively promote how they can meet them. Companies should continue to focus on their branding efforts to highlight the benefits that are most attractive to potential candidates, while ensuring their employees are being paid fair market value and feeling both supported and engaged.

On the other hand, job seekers should ensure their résumé clearly supports their current goals—from field and role, to location and work environment—illustrates the value they will bring to a new employer, and is formatted to be both “ATS-friendly” and skimmable. While the job market will continue to fluctuate, candidates whose résumés meet these criteria will always stand the best chance of not only landing the interview, but ultimately getting their “dream job.” 

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Amanda Augustine (@JobSearchAmanda) is the resident career expert for Talent Inc.’s suite of brands: TopResume, TopInterview, Resume.io, and TopCV.


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