Is Your Resume up with the Times?

Want to get your resume to the top of the employer’s interview list? If you’ve been using the same resume for a few years now it might be time to do a revamp before sending it out if you want to compete.

Gillian Kelly, from Outplacement Australia, an invited judge in Career Director International’s  2016 “Toast of the Resume Industry” Awards says resumes are continually transforming and the last 12 months have been another big year of resume innovation.  Eye-catching visual elements, ATS technology-friendly formats and clever story-telling are just a few of the resume techniques that featured in this year’s resume industry awards and being used by resume experts to capture the employer’s attention.

Here are some of 2016’s Resume trends

Fluff is out, substance is in. Resume experts know employers are tired of seeing the same overused adjectives and buzzwords that give no insight into a person’s ability to do the job. Kelly says, if you want to make an impact, ditch flowery filler and simply let your career results do the talking. Across the board, we see great resumes are the ones injected with powerful achievements and selectively chosen career results to create impact through evidence rather than fluff. In particular, featuring impressive ‘career highlights’ in the opening profile is a technique some writers are cleverly using to create instant ‘wow’ and capture the hirer’s attention.

Creative Visuals are on Trend.  Last year saw a continued move toward more visual elements being used in the resume including colourful infographics, icons, testimonials and feature boxes, particularly for the creative industries. Visual-based resumes and eye-catching column layouts allow the reader to take in the information more easily but Kelly cautions these types of creative-format resumes come with big risk and should only be used under certain circumstances. Creative elements such as graphs, symbols, text boxes, shading and fancy fonts can all interfere with applicant tracking systems, the technologies used by recruiters and employers. These technologies help hirers by extracting key information from the resume and assessing its suitability against key criteria. These systems want easy-to-read text, common fonts and plain formats. Many resume writers are managing this issue by providing people with multiple resume formats including eye-catching graphical versions that can be used for networking along with plainer, text-based formats that can be used when uploading online or providing to hirers using ATS systems.

Reverse Engineering of Content is on the Increase: With the increasing use of applicant tracking systems by employers to sort and shortlist, reverse engineering of content is getting more of a focus than ever. Resumes that win interviews are now typically strategically built to ensure content that reflects the keywords, skills and experience sought by the hirer for the role. New online tools are even available that can help identify and assess important keywords to be used in the resume. This is not to be confused with keyword stuffing, says Kelly, which is ineffective, but this is instead the careful development of the resume content designed to showcase and evidence specific important skills identified by the hirer and sought by their applicant tracking system. Generic resumes are now a big mistake if you want to compete, so spend time customising your resume for the position you are applying for, is her advice.

Personal Branding and Career Story-telling Makes for More Insights. Generic cover letters and dry lists of responsibilities are no longer cutting it in modern applications with employers wanting to get more insight into our strengths, abilities and experience. Effective story-telling skills are now making resumes and cover letters more interesting, whilst at the same time giving employer’s better perception of the person, their brand, personality and contributions. Don’t make the mistake of thinking ‘story-telling’ means grandiose, long-winded paragraphs in resumes. Brief is still best. Interesting one- to two-line bullet point examples that succinctly show your successes using your skills and personal strengths to overcome business challenges and deliver value to past employers, are the ideal. It’s also important not to be tempted to get too creative. It’s easy to make the mistake in cover letters of going from interesting and engaging to gimmicky and cringe-worthy so keep it professional.

Social Media Convergence.  Links to online portfolios and LinkedIn profiles are now being included in resumes to help give the reader access to more information, and encourage contact.  A LinkedIn profile that supports and aligns with the information in the resume is now considered an integral part of a successful job search and included in most resumes.

 With resumes changing all the time, it can be helpful to seek the support of a professional career practitioner. Look for an experienced resume writer you are comfortable with and who holds appropriate credentials. Professional career industry associations are a good starting point when seeking these services.

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