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how to boost your career and future-proof your resume in a volatile job market

how to boost your career and future-proof your resume in a volatile job market

These are unpredictable times for today’s workforce, and they began when the pandemic forever altered the global labor market. 

First, we saw massive resignations as people re-evaluated what it means to have more fulfilling and meaningful lives and work. Since then, we’ve seen the creation of new jobs to meet shifting market demands and, in contrast, a growing threat of layoffs as the economy weakens.

Your career options may be evolving. So, whether you’re looking for a fresh start or are happy in your current role, it’s important to evaluate how the job market impacts you personally – and to ensure you are prepared for what the future holds.

The good and the bad in an evolving job market.

Fortunately, there are many reasons for optimism. Recent reports show nearly two job openings are available for every job seeker in the U.S. Similarly, employers in Europe struggle to fill over 1.2 million open job roles, while employers in Australia are working to fill nearly 400,000 vacant positions. This shortage of workers across the globe has many employers fighting to acquire and retain talent. For candidates, the labor shortage offers a surge of opportunity to launch a job search with increased confidence – and renewed hope for positive career outcomes.

On the flip side, economic uncertainty and a looming recession have led to layoffs in many sectors. The experience can be extremely painful and disruptive if you are laid off. Fortunately, times have changed and layoffs have shed their taboo through growing awareness that redundancies have nothing to do with job performance. This is good news for employees, especially as so many organizations are looking for top talent to join their teams.

Preparation is key.

Preparation is the ultimate secret weapon in an unsteady job landscape. Regardless of the scenario you face, it’s critical to be ready. Keeping resumes and social media profiles up-to-date and ready to go is not only proactive, but it’s also the smart thing to do. Just as we all have insurance policies for nearly every aspect of our lives, it’s essential to take similar precautions with the personal branding elements that support – and shape – your career. 

Stay on top of technology.

As the pace of technology continues to accelerate, candidates must also be ready to navigate both traditional and technological aspects of their search. Recruiters and hiring managers will evaluate paper or digital resumes and cover letters, as well as LinkedIn profiles, online portfolios, and social media channels. 

Similarly, employers will conduct communications via email, text messages, Zoom meetings, and even snail mail. Making sure you’re up-to-date on how to communicate across multiple platforms will improve your chances of competing for, and landing, your next ideal role.

Boost your social media presence.

LinkedIn profiles have become increasingly relevant. If you don’t have one, create one now. An active online presence speaks volumes to your potential employers. A study by the Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 84% of employers recruit via social media, and 43% of employers screen job candidates through social networks and search engines.

Moreover, not having a social presence can hurt you and imply that you’re unknowledgeable about the latest practices. It’s equally important to ensure your personal online presence reflects well on you professionally. You want employers to like what they see when they search your name.

Refresh your resume.

Resumes remain the gold standard for attracting the attention of talent seekers - the tried-and-true method for presenting your personal brand. In Monster’s recent “Future of Work” report, recruiters in the U.S. ranked their ability to search for resumes on sites such as Monster or Indeed as the most effective tool for finding candidates. The report also found that for employers, resumes are second only to an in-person interview in determining whether a candidate is a good fit.

An effective resume needs to be clear, concise and compelling. It requires simple formats, clear headings and clean bullet points that enable the reader to scan the document and quickly grasp your strengths and experience. This is crucial, especially when you have about 7 seconds to grab a hiring manager's attention when they read your resume the first time. 

It’s also critical to note that the first reader of your resume may not be a person; it could very well be an applicant tracking system (ATS). 

An ATS electronically scans your resume, scores your qualifications based on the description of that position and ranks your application. Recruiters rely on ATS systems to streamline and speed the screening process. This matters. CNBC reported that over 75% of resumes never get seen by human eyes, and nearly 99 percent of large companies use an ATS, which could put job seekers unaware of tracking systems at a significant disadvantage.

8 easy fixes to keep your resume future-proof and ATS-friendly.

  1. Supercharge your power statement. Replace your resume’s outdated ‘objective’ field with a short, high-energy profile highlighting your background and capabilities; five to six lines is ideal.
  2. Highlight achievements and performance metrics. Your polished and updated resume should streamline job descriptions and zero in on achievements, using impactful action verbs that ensure you put your best foot forward.
  3. Simplify formats. Creative and stylized formats may be visually appealing on paper, but those same designs may render your resume unreadable by the ATS. Plain formats without tables and text boxes help ensure your resume is ATS-friendly.
  4. Emphasize keywords. Recruiters and hiring managers will incorporate keywords into their ATS search. For your resume to be found, you need to have added appropriate keywords. The best way to identify a list of your keyword tasks is to review your target job description and several similar job descriptions. You will see patterns that will help you identify and refine your list of keywords.
  5. Update your contact information. If you don’t already have one, set up a professional-looking email address on Gmail or other platforms. It’s easy to do – and time well spent. Also, remove your street address – your city, state and zip code provide plenty of information about where you live. Finally, be sure to include your LinkedIn profile URL and links to any personal portfolios among your contact information.
  6. Keep it short. Your resume should be two pages at most. Remember, this is a condensed snapshot of your background and experience; anything more is excessive and potentially annoying to prospective employers.
  7. Eliminate unnecessary information. ‘References available upon request’ is outdated. Your ability to provide references if required is an obvious statement and, therefore, unnecessary on your resume.
  8. Stick with PDFs. Always send your resume in a PDF format; it’s the only way to ensure that your resume will look the same on any device. Many professionals today use their phones to review resumes. Have you ever viewed a Word document on your phone? Case closed.

With change comes opportunity.

By taking a big-picture view of today’s dynamic job market, it’s easy to see there are both opportunities and pitfalls. Evaluating and acting on how market changes can benefit you is critical. Similarly, refreshing all aspects of your personal branding elements, such as resumes and LinkedIn profiles, is a smart way to future-proof your career - and ensure a smooth landing in any scenario.