Updating your resume is near the top of many people’s most-hated tasks. When you desperately want a new job, there is so much pressure wrapped up in that brief document.
Plus, it seems like resume template conventions are always changing. For example, how are you to know which font to use? Is it wise to include a head shot? Should there be an “Objective” section?
In addition to understanding the power of a professional resume template, this article will review key resume template trends to help you be most successful in your job search.
Optimize Your Professional Resume for Keyword Scanning
The most important thing to know when creating a resume in 2020 is that it will most likely be read by a machine before it is ever read by a human. Over half of all large companies, and nearly all Fortune 500 companies, use an applicant tracking system to scan resumes for keywords before the resume will be sent to a staff member.
Electronic scanning of your resume means you must optimize it for keywords found in the job description. Think of this task as search engine optimization for your resume.
Thankfully, there are tools that can help you. SkillSyncher is one online tool you can use to compare your resume against a job description and get a match score. You can use this score to adjust your resume text and optimize your chances of getting past the first hiring step.
Time spent to customize your resume for each job description will pay off in helping you get past the electronic resume scan.
Include a Professional Summary Statement
The “Objective” section of a resume template is out-of-date and a professional summary statement is in. The reason for this shift is that employers already know why you are applying–because you want the job. Therefore, you should use this space to summarize your experience and show why you are the best fit.
“Summary” or “Profile” are both acceptable headings for this section. Create a personal brand for yourself by bringing your career history together into a concise statement.
Be Specific and Use Numbers
Recruiters want to see specific examples of how you excelled in your previous positions. Don’t just describe how great you are–try to use numbers whenever possible.
Numbers and specific examples will do a better job of showing your value than descriptive text alone.
Led sales team, providing guidance and constructive feedback.
Led sales team to exceed target of $1 million per quarter for 3 years in a row.
The second statement is the type that has a bigger impact on recruiters and hiring managers.
Use Bullets and White Space in Your Resume Template
Resumes with bulleted statements perform better in today’s job market. As recruiters are flooded with resumes, they have mere seconds to scan and make a decision about whether to pass a candidate on to the next step.
Concise statements in bullet form are much more scannable, making them win out. A good amount of white space will also make your resume more readable than densely packed text in a small font.
While it can be tempting to cram all of your resume content onto a single page, it is acceptable to go to a second page if you have more than 5 to 10 years of experience. Still, keep your text relevant and concise so as not to waste the reader’s time.
Be Careful With Complicated Resume Templates
There are many formatting programs available today that offer resume templates. It can be tempting to grab the most eye-catching template for your resume, but that can also be a big mistake.
Some of the templates produce files that are not as readable by the applicant tracking systems mentioned earlier and will result in a poor score. In other words, your resume will be going nowhere after you apply.
If you are going to try a newer online template or tool, please test the result with an online resume reader before you submit your resume anywhere. You can also try to copy and paste the words from the generated PDF into a document to see if the content gets exported legibly.
Starting from a more typical program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs is a safer route. Unless you are applying for an art or design role, the formatting of the resume still takes a backseat to the content.
Aside from the bullets and white space already mentioned, the most important formatting guidelines for resumes are to:
- Use clear, readable fonts (nothing too eccentric).
- Ensure headings are clearly differentiated from the body text, such as with a different font or all caps.
The bottom line is, don’t try to get too fancy with formatting. The time spent probably won’t be worth it anyway. There’s a reason many resumes look similar: a standard resume format makes readers’ jobs easier.
Should You Include a Headshot on Your Resume?
If you are in the United States, the answer is still a resounding no. For one thing, a photo will take up valuable space that you should be using for your text. Another reason is the potential for discrimination.
Headshots on a resume are not the norm, and recruiters frown upon their inclusion. If a hiring company wants to learn more about you, including viewing photos, they can check out more about you online.
Include Relevant Online Profiles or Websites
Including links to your professional social media accounts, blogs, or websites on your resume is acceptable in 2020. Your potential employer will probably be looking at these anyway if they are going to consider hiring you.
Just make sure any you include represent your professional brand and are not personal accounts. Also go ahead and remove anything from those accounts or sites that you would not want a potential employer to see.
Consider creating a portfolio website to better market yourself, then include this link on your resume. It can be a great way to stand out from the crowd. There, you can show more creativity and professional examples than in your resume.
If you have volunteering experience that might be of interest to a potential employer, go ahead and include it on your resume. Volunteering can show a little bit about yourself and also bring in skills relevant to your employment. Just don’t include hobbies or other nonprofessional activities on your resume.
Include Technical Skills
Technical skills are of great interest to employers in 2020. Go ahead and include a section specifically for them on your resume. You can use bullets to keep it brief, listing programs or skill sets. Just be sure to be honest and only include those with which you have proficiency.
Consider Proofreading Help
While you can write your resume yourself, unless you have a trusted person in your life whom you can ask for proofreading help, you might consider hiring an independent third party to review it. You need to look for a resume editor or proofreader for an affordable price and be sure to look at their qualifications and reviews before hiring them. Alternatively, you could consider hiring a professional resume writing service where you can get the entire process done for you.
No matter how much effort you put into your resume, a few small errors can send it to the employer’s recycle bin. Spending a little to ensure your resume is error-free can give you peace of mind and a greater chance of hiring success.
Take Control of Your Job Search
In many cases, the resume remains the first step to landing a new job. Most fundamentals about resume creation have remained the same for the past few years, but there are some recent best practices to keep in mind. By following the tips in this article, you’ll be on your way to a more successful job search in 2020.
Stand above the crowd with an optimized resume that will get past electronic scanning systems and into the hands of your desired employers. From there, your resume will be primed to impress its readers and land you an interview.