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6 Ways Resumes Have Changed Throughout the Years

Monday, November 22, 2021

A client of mine was pursuing a career change from the healthcare field to banking and sent me her resume. Everyone has hobbies that might translate into sought-after skills, but this client had listed her hobbies as if she were submitting her resume to a dating website. Her resume needed a bit more professionalism.
As a job seeker, you want to put your best and most professional self forward on your resume. To ensure you secure interviews for those positions you most desire, you need a modern and professional resume. Let’s take a look at six considerations:

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1. Strategy

Cater your resume toward a specific career theme. Using the “one size fits all” approach of the past is out of the question because talents have become specific. As a result, employers want to see how you meet or exceed their job requirements through relevant professional experience, education, expertise, aptitudes, and skills. The best resume strategies overcome any barriers that may exist. If the only education you have is a high school diploma, for example, adding that to your resume could hinder you in your job search. In this case, education is a barrier, so it would be best to leave it off your resume. If this is your situation, your strategy should focus on highlighthing your years of relevant experience.

2. Personal Branding

Personal branding is essential in a competitive job market. Once you identify your brand, you have to reinforce it in your resume to help sell yourself to employers. Your personal brand is different from a career objective. An objective is an outdated section and should be eliminated. Your personal brand is a statement that defines what makes you unique, differentiates you from the competition, and lets your target audience know what you are capable of and the value you bring.

3. Applicant Tracking Systems

Many employers today use an application tracking system (ATS) that will scan your resume to determine whether or not you possess the required or preferred job qualifications for which you are applying.

Optimizing your resume with relevant keywords in your desired industry and job title is the best way to “beat the ATS.” Keywords reflect the content of a job post, which includes the required or preferred number of years in a specific area as well as your education, certifications, areas of expertise, regulatory knowledge, critical skills, and technology proficiencies. This does not mean copying and pasting a job description or the bulleted responsibilities into your resume with hopes of your file getting hits. Instead, tell your career story while including relevant keywords throughout the resume.

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4. Resume Length

According to LinkedIn and Indeed, employers spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume. Six seconds! You can’t afford to have yours be a long, drawn-out document like the ones of the past. I often refer to these types of resumes as “career obituaries” because, while they may have a lot of great content, trying to review all of that can bore employers and cause them to toss your resume. Your resume should make a quick impression, and its content should be concise yet strong and impactful. Also, consider length, which is, ideally, one to two pages long.

5. Accomplishments

It is not enough to include job descriptions in your experience section because doing so can make your resume look like those of every other applicant whose professional experience is similar to yours. Instead, write about your accomplishments, which can help take your resume from great to outstanding and can be the X-factor that separates you from the competition.

Think about challenges that you’ve encountered on the job. What actions did you independently implement to overcome them? Did you take on responsibilities that weren’t part of your job description? What were the results? Did you win an award? Did you quickly earn a promotion? Did you improve processes or productivity? If so, this is the content that you want in your resume, including metrics such as percentages and dollar figures if possible.

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6. Color and Graphics

Many job seekers ask if it is OK to use colors and graphics on a resume. The answer is “yes!” Colors and graphics can help give your resume a more modernized look instead of feeling outdated. Colors can reflect a career theme and reinforce your personal brand. For example, light green can reflect the healthcare industry, while blue can reflect loyalty and reliability. You can also use graphics, such as a table to list relevant skills and areas of expertise, a text box to include a quote from your manager about the value you’ve brought to the organization, or a chart to illustrate how you gradually increased sales.

But remember your strategy. Ensure your resume has the best use and balance of color. While graphics look good and can help illustrate your accomplishments, some ATS systems cannot read the text inside charts, graphs, tables, and text boxes.

The white space on your resume is valuable real estate; therefore, be wise in how you use it if you’re considering adding graphics. For example, a graphic designer may want to show off their creative abilities on their resume, but this is not ideal for everyone else.

The more you understand and adapt to the ways resumes have changed over time, the more you will increase your chances of having a successful job search and securing your most desired position.

About the Author
Jeremy Johnson is the owner and chief résumé writer of Opened Door Career Services LLC, a career management firm based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, which specializes in custom résumé development, LinkedIn profile optimization, career and job... Read More
3 Comments
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"Using the “one size fits all” approach of the past is out of the question because talents have become specific." Totally agree! I encourage candidates to tailor their resumes to better suit the job description they are applying to, highlighting skills and experience that meet or match the requirements.
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I agree with most of these. The one that varies by industry and in general relates to resume length. I have found that it is less about the length and more about making it scannable as it isn't that folks won't look at what you have over multiple pages, it's that they may not read it in depth. It is all so subjective as a person looking at a shorter resume of one page may deduce one candidate to being less qualified than another candidate with a resume of three pages.
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Very good insights Jeremy, thank you for the article. It would be great to add some examples to illustrate the different tips, especially the use of colors and graphics in a resume.
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