The end of the year is a great time of reflection, introspection, and revival. It’s also a time where job seekers plan out their career goals for the new year and job search strategies. Enter the 2021 resume and 2021 job search matched against 2021 resume trends.
With January and February being two of the busiest months of job searching, it’s imperative that job seekers know the ins and outs of how to get their resume into the “yes” pile rather than tossed out in the trash. If you’re engaging in a job search for 2021, now is the time to prepare and get the ball rolling. Keep in mind, if you’re job searching during a recession caused by COVID-19, your strategy will need to take into account the current economic and social climate while also focusing on changing industry trends and relevant skills. Resumes are reviewed today for approximately 5-7 seconds, and more than 95% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS), nifty software that scans the resume to see if it has the magical number of keywords to pass onto the next level. With a diminished ability to get seen and noticed, you want to make sure your resume is a strategic marketing document that breathes a sigh of fresh air into who you are and the value you can leverage at an organization.
Here are 4 things to do to get your resume on the fast-track to the “yes” pile in 2021:
1. A Specific Branding Statement Not a General Job Title
Submitting a resume today without a branding statement is a sure way to get your resume thrown into the “No” pile immediately. A branding statement on your resume is a tagline into who you are beyond just your job title. Think of it like the perfect title to your very own career novel. Just as books gain traction for a savvy book title, your branding statement must be clear on your resume and give that “Oh la la” feel for the reader. Instead of just listing yourself as a “Business Development Manager” (read: boring!), include a line beneath that hinges on your strongest areas of concentration such as “Transformational Leadership, Dynamic Operations, & Relationship Management.” As operations and relationship management formulate the branding of the resume, you can now rely on providing factual support of those items in the resume. Remember, don’t leave the reader in the dark.
Expert Tip: Many focus on using “fluffy adjectives” in their resume, but my opinion has always been to keep the fluff out and focus on your skills that align with the company’s needs. Even according to 2021 resume trends, fluffy adjectives will need to cease.
2. A Professional Summary Not an Objective
Objectives are old news in today’s resumes and if you’re still using one, stop, do not pass go, and do not collect $200. Your objective is to find a job, but your professional summary should resonate like the preview to the main feature in the movies. Enticing and alluring. Create a professional summary about you includes some of your key character traits with additional keywords that match the job description. Attract the reader with some of your biggest and proudest moments in your career that make the reader want to continue reading on and continue learning more. Avoid using dull, repetitive, and overused language that fails to provide examples in your resume. Instead of referring to yourself as “results-driven,” don’t skimp on the proof of those results you drove. A resume without numbers is going to fall short of the proof necessary. Be prepared to back up your professional summary with the necessary examples in your professional experience section beyond just your job responsibilities.
Expert Tip: When trying to quantify results in your resume, begin to think of your skills in measurement format. If you cut costs, by how much, and how did you do this? If you drove new products, programs, or processes, explain how you did it, when you did it, and the what outcome occurred. Your 2021 job search hinges on being able to show results.
3. Industry-Specific Keywords + Soft Skills Not Just Hard Skills
It’s also a known fact that in today’s job search process, inputting the right keywords matters more than ever. Buzz phrases such as “Strategic Planning & Execution,” “Business Development,” and “Relationship Building” are now in the wheelhouse of employers’ minds and they must be in your resume.
If you’re unsure of which keywords are the best ones to use, look to the job description and highlight the words that pop out to you. Those same words should be present in your resume.
Expert Tip: Remember, your keywords should be industry specific. If you’re searching for a project management role, review multiple job postings for project manager jobs. You will begin to see a common theme of words most often used in the postings. In 2021, resume trends will focus on soft skills like crisis management (think: COVID 19), adaptability, and versatility will matter more than ever.
4. More Results Not Just Responsibilities
Many job seekers today make the mistake of creating a resume that’s simply a boring synopsis of their work history. Job functions and responsibilities are important, but what differentiates the mediocre candidate from the stellar candidate is providing key results that support why the candidate is the better pick! Focus on key projects you’ve undertook (and possibly led), key contributions you’ve made to the company as a result of your savvy leadership or innovative solutions, as well as big accomplishments that sell you as the superstar candidate you are. But remember, be specific about results. Don’t just write things such as “Drove revenue growth.” Instead, include measurable amounts that show just how much your awesome work has effectuated growth within the company, i.e. “Drove $50M revenue growth in 2016 resulting in 25% increased efficiency and productivity.”
Expert tip: Think about how 2020 has impacted your career and ways in which you have driven results through a pandemic. 2021 resume trends and 2021 job search strategies will need to lean into this.
Keep in mind that getting your resume into the “Yes” pile is merely one step in the job search process. Stay abreast on networking skills, interview tips, and adequately market yourself through your LinkedIn profile.
Note: an earlier version of this article appeared in the HuffPost back in 2017.