Up Your Game: How To Update Your Resume In Quarantine
Adapt for the next big thing
Our work may have shifted digitally, but like they always say: the grind never stops. We look for ways to progress in our careers and our lives, pressing play on evolving even amid a pandemic. Sometimes it’s taking on another freelance project, moving on to a new job or seizing the opportunity for that internship. Or maybe you’ve finally made time to update your resume after a while. Well, even the way recruiters look for their new employees has changed, too. Here’s how you can update your resume during quarantine.
Keywords are the... key
Companies, especially bigger ones that receive hundreds of applications are likely to recruit with the help of applicant tracking software (ATS), to sift through the stack of resumes. So even if you’ve written all your summaries and explanations properly but it’s not tailored to be ATS-friendly, there’s a chance that your application might be slashed even before HR specialists view it.
Look up similar job descriptions for the one you’re applying for and see what words or terms related to the position appear. Incorporate these into your summary or objective, as well as in describing your experiences and skills. If there are common terms or abbreviations in your field, write both the acronym and the full term for clarity. This will help the ATS recognize your strengths and qualifications to match you with the job opening you’re looking for, bringing your resume to the next round.
Technicals and layouts matter
Rule of thumb: keep your resume under one page. Omit job and school experiences that are unrelated to the position you're applying for, especially those which occurred in the past five years. High school achievements, especially for those applying for their second or third jobs, should be excluded. If you want to include these, you can add them to your LinkedIn profile instead.
For its overall look, feel free to add a little color and life to the layout. But using visual elements such as scales and charts to show your proficiency and skills is discouraged as this takes time to decipher and may take up space. Not to mention that the ATS software is unable to read these, which increases the risk of your resume not making the cut. Remember that recruiters and employers are a lot more concerned with the content of your resume instead of its design, so don’t be afraid to keep your resume short and simple.
Canva has a lot of straightforward and easy-to-edit resume layouts you can use as a reference for your resume overhaul.
Highlight important skills and projects
Champion your transferable skills that have been helpful throughout the pandemic, such as being a team player, your adaptability or flexibility, having communication skills and problem-solving skills. Next, highlight your abilities that have developed since working remotely, such as software proficiency or your skills in more technical aspects, especially if you received certification for it over quarantine.
Meanwhile, for projects, choose the most recent ones that are related to the job you’re applying for, and highlight your technical skills. Focus on projects that you were able to do while you were in college or while working; specifically, the most recent endeavors you’ve done. Phrase your bullet points in such a way that shows how your projects and day-to-day tasks managed to hone your skills.
Numbers matter, as these are what employers use as a gauge to see your effectiveness as an employee. Quantifying the impact you had on your project overall helps recruiters visualize your capacity and qualification for the job. For example, if you were able to grow a following for a platform as a social media specialist, you can frame the bullet point in such manner: “Led the team in growing a branded Twitter platform, organically growing its followers into 5,000 in five months.”
Writing A Cover Letter
Your cover letter or email should not go beyond three to four paragraphs. Just like your resume, this should also be short and sweet. Be honest about your interest in the job opening, whether you’re planning to shift careers and industries, looking for additional opportunities or you were laid off from your previous job due to the pandemic. Employers will appreciate the transparency and your attitude that pushes you to go for the position.
Beyond expressing your interest in applying for the job, include how hiring you would benefit the company. Don’t be afraid to mention some of your topline skills and numbers from your resume to add emphasis, but don’t provide your entire background in one fell swoop. End the email or letter by mentioning how you’re looking forward to speaking with them further regarding the opportunity.
The road to a new job or career shift, especially in this era is an uphill battle. The job markets are getting more competitive while available positions seem like they’re lessening. But don’t let that deter you from pursuing the next big thing, because there’s definitely something waiting for you.