As the most important document you will submit during a job application, your resume plays a critical role in gaining the attention of a potential employer and successfully moving you through to the next phase of the hiring process. 

With today’s recruiters spending an average of only 7.4 seconds skimming through a resume, developing a strategic, well crafted document outlining your skills, experience, and accomplishments is key to landing your next job. If you’re looking to improve your resume and submit applications with confidence, here are a few top tips for 2021 to help you succeed:

1. Keep your Resume Short and Concise

One of the most important considerations while writing your resume is keeping the document clear, concise, and within 1-2 pages. Include only your most recent and relevant work experience and exclude any previous work history or additional information that is not applicable to the position you are applying for. If you’re struggling for space, try trimming your margins, combining sections, and using bullet points. 

2. Replace Your Objective Statement with a Career Summary Statement

Traditional resume objective statements simply stated the objective of the job seeker. For example: “To obtain an administration position within the legal industry.” However, objective statements have evolved in recent years to include additional context or the job seeker’s broader goals. Replace your objective statement with a career summary that captures your latest accomplishments, qualifications, and the value you can bring to the organization. It shouldn’t be more than three sentences; think of it as your 30-second elevator pitch!

3. Re-think Your Generic Cookie-Cutter Template 

Generic templates from word processors such as Microsoft Word or Pages were once helpful tools while creating and developing your resume. However, in 2021, standing out from the crowd and getting noticed requires a resume that is specifically tailored to you, outlines your unique value, and paints a picture that gives potential employers a reason to get in touch.

Your resume should include compelling stories of your success and concrete evidence to support your impact on the organizations you have worked for. Include design elements such as bold headings, infographics, icons, and colour to better communicate your key selling points and personality. In doing so, you can significantly increase the chances that your resume makes its way to the consideration pile.

4. Include Soft Skills Through Storytelling

Regardless of one’s industry or technical abilities, transferable skills are essential to the success of any employee. When adding soft skills to your resume, avoid a bulleted list simply stating them for the sake of filling space. Instead, clearly communicate specific examples within the body of your resume where they were put to the test. For example, perhaps you successfully worked on a project with multiple colleagues and internal stakeholders, demonstrating your ability to collaborate, communicate, and meet deadlines. By identifying your soft skills through concrete examples, hiring managers will get a much better sense of who you are and how you operate within a professional environment. 

5. Highlight Technical Skills

Regardless of your industry and area of expertise, including your technical skills is critical in gaining the attention of any hiring manager. Be sure to clearly outline your knowledge of relevant tools and software as well as any additional certifications or training you’ve completed. Using the job description associated with the role you’re applying for as a guide, further tailor your resume by including your level of competency in each software or tool mentioned. This will fast track any questions a potential employer may have about your ability level or experience with their internal toolkit. 

6. Showcase Value and Impact Contribution

Recruiters will always want to learn more about how you’ve added value and contributed to the success of the organizations you’ve worked for. By including concrete statistics, client names, dollar amounts, and KPI’s, your prospective employer will gain detailed insight into your impact as an employee. For example, adding a statement such as, “Increased product and delivery reliability from 67% to 89%, saving the company $25K annually”, a hiring manager can quickly identify your ability to produce results and the value you offer to an prospective employer.

When determining how to include impact within your resume, consider how your employers measured success in your previous positions. Think further about the problems you were presented with, the actions you took, and the subsequent results for the business. Once you’ve narrowed this down, be sure to include this information as it relates to each job within the employment history section of your resume.

7. Ensure your Resume is ATS Friendly

An applicant tracking system — or ATS — is a software used by recruiters and employers during the hiring process to collect, sort, and scan the job applications they receive for their open positions. To ensure your resume is ATS friendly and doesn’t slip through the cracks, consider including the following:

  • A simple, clean format that is easy to scan
  • Keywords found within the specific job description of the role you are applying for
  • Clearly identified relevant work experience and professional skills
  • Work experience is listed in chronological order
  • ATS Compatible file formatting  (.docx format remains the most accurately parsed by ATSs)
  • Keep graphics, tables, and images to a minimum
  • Avoid header and footer details

8. Add your LinkedIn Profile

Within the contact section of your resume, include a hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile and ensure all of the information listed is up to date. Most hiring managers and employers will browse your social media networks either way so including it on your resume makes their life easier. Furthermore, sending potential employers to your professional profile provides additional information about your experience and job details that may not fit within your 1-2 page format. 

Proofread 

We can not reiterate this enough; you must proofread your resume not once, but twice. In a competitive hiring landscape, something as minor as one spelling or grammatical error could make or break your chances of being considered for a job. Be sure to use spell check and online tools such as Grammarly before submitting your resume to ensure the document is error free and demonstrates your attention to detail. Furthermore, have a friend or a family member proofread your work; they might pick up on something you’ve missed or forgot to include. 

If you’re still unsure of how to bring your resume up to par, sitting down with a local professional recruiter can be a great idea, no matter what step of the job search you find yourself. At LRO Staffing, our highly experienced team leverages their unique talents to provide candidates with the guidance, support, and highest calibre of service they need to find the right position. Whether you’re ready to make a move or merely want to get an idea of how to improve your resume, we can help