How important is a CV or Resume?
When you start to apply for positions, there are multiple ways to communicate your qualifications. The most common method for larger companies is to detail required information onto a digital profile. This allows for the HR professionals to easily sift through the mass amounts of applications easily via automated filters and keyword searches.
However, at some point in the application process, regardless of how large the company is or how digital the application process is, they will look at your resume or CV. With so many people to work through, they won’t be reading every word on your CV or resume, particularly if it more than one page long. You need to stand out from the crowd.
They will be scanning the information to get a better sense of your skills and qualifications. Your goal in your CV and resume development is to make it easy for them to pick you. Don’t make it difficult for them to understand why you are perfect for the position. Be direct. Be clear. Be on point and relevant. Most of all, be brief. There is no need to write a novel about some internship your freshman year that has no bearing on your actual job skills. Honestly, there probably is no need to include it at all.
If you are looking to create a solid resume in 2021 for your post-pandemic job search, you need to understand that the struggle is real, and you need to take a slightly different approach to your CV or resume in the new age. Here are the main 7 aspects that you should consider when you are starting your resume or CV writing.
Focus on digital and analytical skills
It doesn’t matter what job you are looking to get. Businesses and companies are looking for people with digital skills. This means that you should focus on your ability to work with computers, any necessary programs, online or digital skills, and any data analytics abilities. It could be as simple as being able to generate charts and graphs. It could be as simple as familiarity with all forms of web meeting applications.
Digital and analytical skills are important to highlight in 2021 because 2020 showed that during the pandemic work went on remotely. Work still needed to get done and many jobs may be permanently remote. If you currently are lacking in the digital skills area, that is ok. You can easily take a few short courses from Google or other online providers for free or at a very low cost. If the company has had trouble with technology in the past, they may be focusing on hiring only those that can help lead it through the technological revolution.
The workplace isn’t going back to analog devices. Digital integration will only become more prevalent as time passes. That is just the reality of the market. If you want to be relevant now and into the future, you need to focus on highlighting your digital and analytical skills.
Focus on transferable skills
Transferable skills refer to any qualifications, abilities, knowledge, skills, or anything else that you have that could be used in another situation that could benefit the company. It may be that you are applying for a job that isn’t your main choice. It could be that it is completely different than your degree. That is fine. But you shouldn’t make their HR professionals do the mental gymnastics to connect the dots that your prior experience would apply well in this different situation.
If your experience or education isn’t necessarily on point for the position, you need to focus the resume or CV on the aspects of your qualifications that are transferable and would help the company. For example, if you have an engineering degree but are applying to be a librarian, you could highlight that your attention to detail would allow you to be able to keep track of the thousands of books on file across multiple facilities and would allow you to visualize the hierarchy of book supply chain better than a classical literature student. It would also help you advise on scientific tops to research students that need help on finding science resources.
The point here is that you need to make the benefits of your alternative experience to fill in any deficiencies that you might have in regard to the requirements of the job listing. Don’t just leave the gap there. If an HR professional sees the gap, they will have a very easy time saying no to your resume.
Focus on the skills needed for the job
This tip is related to the above description but is more nuanced. Read the job requirements at least five times before you start to review your CV or resume. Then you should copy and paste all of those qualifications into your CV and resume and match them up with the listings that satisfy the requirement. If you see a gap, then fill it. Don’t delete any of the necessary skills that you pulled over. Rather use the keywords that the job posting uses in your own language. Focusing the resume and the CV just on the requirements of the job will keep it simple, straightforward, and easy to approve.
Focus on formatting and readability
You could be the best applicant ever to be born. You could have everything. If your resume and CV are ugly or have grammar errors, it will be immediately ignored. You need to edit your resume and CV such that it looks professional and reads easily. This means use a professional font, add a little color not a lot of colors, alter the size of the text to fit headings category, don’t have large blocks of text, everything should be bullets, always have your contact info in the header, and have it reviewed by someone you trust.
Focus on cutting out extraneous info
Don’t put anything on your resume about your hobbies or your favorite food or your extracurricular activities. That is just wasted space and honestly, the HR people don’t care that you play the cello or love baking sourdough bread. It isn’t that these aspects aren’t important, but for efficiencies sake, you need to highlight job-related success points. If you are a few years out of college or grad school, they will be more concerned about your most recent work. You can list that you graduated, the school, the year, the degree, and something relevant to the position, but any else would distract from the matter at hand. Focus your resume and CV to be the leanest and meanest application on the face of the Earth.
Focus on proven successes
It doesn’t matter if your job didn’t include making money or some other easily identifiable success metric. If you did your job well or performed well in school, then you should reflect that past job or school success in your CV or resume. This isn’t to say that you should list your GPA or something like that. Instead, what this means is you need to use verbs that showcase your attitude towards your work. For example, don’t say, “participated on multiple inter-agency task forces.” Instead, you should say, “helped lead and proactively contributed to the success of multiple inter-agency task forces.” Notice how you aren’t saying anything more, but the implication is that the second version is much more goal-oriented and success-driven. That is an applicant that gets hired.
Focus on a summary statement
The last tip is a secret hint that can really make your resume stand out. Instead of jumping straight into your experiences, training, and education, add a one-sentence summary statement about what you want and why you want it that is center justified at the top of the first page. The HR professional will see this first, which will humanize the rest of your data and make it harder to say no and easier to give you a callback. Good luck.