Rethinking Resumes in 2021

Global Employability

We live in a changed world. And, instead of waiting for life to return to the normal we knew, it’s time to start preparing and adapting.

If you’re looking for an opportunity, you first need to get your resume right – one that is more in tune with the times.

Your resume must provide what the organization in question is looking for. Think of this as a marketing tool to address the needs of companies, and you’ll increase your chances of being selected.

Here’s all you need to know:

Different types of resumes

The resume is no longer a generic document, but a targeted approach to landing specific roles. In 2021, you can utilise different types of resumes, based on your current circumstances.

  • Chronological resume: As the name suggests, a chronological resume starts with listing your recent work experience. Below that, you mention your other jobs in reverse chronological order. This is a resume that has been used for several decades, primarily because it is easy for a recruiter to glance at your work experience in one go. According to experts at Resume Genius, “a chronological resume shows recruiters that your most recent experience is relevant to their needs, presents yourself in terms of promotions and upward career mobility, and demonstrates that you’ve had a normal career without work gaps or terminations.”This type of resume is ideal for those who have extensive work experience. For freshers, it is better to go for a different format.
  • Functional resume: A functional resume revolves around your skills and experience, instead of just focusing on your work history in chronological order. In this resume, you do not have to mention your work history at the top of the resume; instead, there is a separate section that focuses on your professional experience, which lists various skills developed over the years.This resume also includes a resume summary at the top, which highlights an individual’s skills and achievements.This kind of resume is used by those individuals who are switching careers or have gaps in their work history. It also works for those who are new to the workforce or do not have extensive work experience.
  • Combination resume: Just like its name, a combination resume blends in a chronological and functional resume. In this type of resume, an individual’s skills and qualifications are mentioned at the top. Below this, the chronological work history is listed. This resume, too, focuses on the skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for.The combination resume helps you to portray yourself as the best fit for the job, while still giving the recruiter all the information he/she needs.
  • Infographic resume: This kind of resume doesn’t just have text, but also graphical elements like colour, design, formatting, icons, and fonts to organise your content better, instead of just listing down your work history in chronological order.
  • Resume with profile: This type of resume also has a profile section that mentions a summary of an individual’s skills, experiences, and goals, with relation to the job they have applied for. This helps especially in the case of experienced professionals, who can crunch their experience so that the recruiter understands their strengths right away.
  • Targeted resume: A targeted resume, as the name says, is tailored specifically to highlight the experience and skills you have for a particular job. It is a good idea to write a targeted resume for every job.
  • Non-traditional resume: This is not a conventional kind of resume. Instead of using just text, this kind of resume includes photos, graphics, images, charts, and other visuals. You could also utilise infographics to make your resume stand out. It could also be a video or a resume on a social networking website. This resume is especially a good fit for those who work in creative fields.
Some creative tips to present your resume

It is not just the content of your resume that matters, but also how you present it. Here are some useful tips to update the design of your resume:

  • Colour blocking: Colour is an important tool to make your resume stand out. You can use colour blocking to highlight the milestones in your work history and separate the other accomplishments in a structured manner. It also helps the recruiter to understand your resume better, and in a single glance.
  • Use a photograph: Your photograph helps the recruiter get acquainted with you, and makes them feel that there is a human behind all this text. It can be a tiny picture, just like a thumbnail on Facebook or LinkedIn. Your smiling, professional face can truly be an asset and give you an edge over others.
  • Font choice: The choice of font is critical to communicate your personality to an employer. Bold choices are great for those in the creative field, but if you are someone who has extensive technical experience or managerial skills, then it’s best to stick to the standard Calibri or Arial fonts.
  • Utilize infographics: Over the years, there has been a rise in the incorporation of infographics in resumes. It is a great way to quantify your skills, and highlight them in graphical ways, which will stand out much more than text can. You can divide your resume layout into a grid with two columns, and four or five rows. Place one section of data into each square of the grid, highlighting awards and accomplishments or your educational history.
  • ATS-friendly resume: You might wonder what this is all about. A resume must be compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems, a software that has been in use since the 90s. These are a few points to keep in mind, so that the bots pass your resume in a jiffy:
    • ATS can’t read text placed in headers or footers
    • ATS can’t read text placed in text boxes
    • ATS doesn’t care about bold, underlined, italicised, coloured text
    • ATS scans the text from left-to-right
    • ATS can read PDFs, but they are known to read Word documents more accurately
  • Include social media links: Make sure to add direct links to your social media profiles or your website. Recruiters today go through social media profiles to understand a potential candidate better. Having your Twitter and LinkedIn profile mentioned on the resume will come in handy.
Video resumes - do they give you the edge?

First things first, a video resume is a double edged sword – done right (and for the right industry), it could be the differentiator. However, if it’s not done well, or if you don’t appear confident and are not able to articulate your strengths well, it could backfire.

However, if you do want to go beyond just using print resumes, and experiment with a new medium, then there’s nothing better than a video resume. It is a short video created by a candidate and uploaded on a social networking site for people to view. The candidate can also share the video via email.

The video includes detailed information about a candidate’s skills and experience. Unlike general perception, a video resume is not a replacement of the print resume, but is instead a value-add. The decision to have a video resume depends on the type of industry you’re a part of. It could work really well if you are a part of a creative field!

As mentioned earlier, having a video resume is optional, because organisations generally don’t ask for it. According to a survey by US-based management consulting company, Robert Half, 78% of the companies prefer traditional resumes. Only 3% were interested in video resumes.

In short, a video resume is a good way to showcase your personality, especially for those who are in client-facing roles. However, if your role is far from creative, then a video resume might seem out of place.

Some tips for creating a good video resume:
  • Be professional: Don’t be casual in any way. Dress up just the way you would for a professional interview. Do not use slang, and try not to crack jokes while recording the video.
  • Find a good background: Make sure your background looks neat and professional, and there are no sounds in the background. Also, try to pay attention to the lighting.
  • Prepare a script: You might want to appear natural and spontaneous, but you must be prepared and know how to phrase it. Do not read directly from a script. Instead, pitch to a particular company and make a strong case for them to hire you.
  • Show, don’t tell: You can use visuals to showcase what you are saying in the video script.
  • Keep it brief: Videos should be timed anywhere between 30 and 90 seconds. No one will watch anything beyond that.
How important is a cover letter?

Getting your resume right is important, but you also need to pay attention to the cover letter. Just like your resume, it needs to be specifically tailored to suit the role you are applying for. The fonts and colors must be in sync with your resume, and the tone of voice must be crisp and professional.

While a cover letter is optional for some roles, it is a good idea to always include one with your resume. It shouldn’t go beyond one page or three to four paragraphs, and must succinctly mention the position you are applying for, the qualifications in relation to the position, and why you’re keen to work for the company.

A cover letter helps you to elaborate on your story, before getting an interview with your hiring manager. It is a good way to showcase your personal brand and exhibit the skills and core values that will add value to the company. It also helps to form a relationship with the recruiter. A good cover letter doesn’t just detail out your skills but also showcases your personality. It’s a good idea to highlight your accomplishments that are likely to bring value to a company in the long run.

As Jodi Glickman, a communications expert and author of Great on the Job, has observed: “Not sending a cover letter is a sign of laziness. It’s akin to making spelling and grammar mistakes in your resume. You just don’t do it.”

Some tips to follow to ace the cover letter:
  • Read the job description: This will help you understand the important skills needed for the job, and if you’re the right fit for it or not. Make sure to also pay attention to any application instructions that are written in the description.
  • Ensure consistency: Customise your resume and cover letter, based on the requirements of your job. This will help a recruiter understand the ways in which you add value to their organisation.
  • Start with a strong introduction: The first sentence of the cover letter is what will make or break your impression. It needs to clearly demonstrate that you understand the role, and have the requisite skills for the job.
  • Use keywords mentioned in the job description: Don’t overload the cover letter with keywords, but use some important ones that can get picked up by ATS.

By following these tips, you can help to pitch yourself as a more suitable candidate, so that you land your dream job in 2021!

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Global Employability


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