Modern Resume Strategies

July 29, 2021

Your resume should engage the reader, position yourself as the perfect fit, and make your most critical points effectively. And in a dynamic, ever-changing job market, your resume needs to be constantly evolving. It’s essential to keep up with modern resume strategies so that you stay relevant in the market.

We all know the importance of having a well-written, effective resume: you only have a short amount of time to gain attention and generate interest in your potential as a candidate. According to a 2018 study by Ladders, recruiters spend just 7.4 seconds scanning a resume. That’s less than 8 seconds to prove why you are the right candidate for a job.

Keep It Targeted

General resumes don’t work, and recruiters will quickly move on to the next candidate if your resume is generic. You should customize the content for every position you apply to — tailor your resume to speak to the job you want, not the job you have.

Emphasize specifics, highlight essential and relevant success, and include keywords that the recruiter is looking for. You should know your audience and speak directly to them, so that you make a personal connection and position yourself as a subject matter expert.

Your resume should avoid general statements such as “results-oriented, visionary leader, proven track record” — these overused phrases make you sound like everyone else. Instead, you should expand and give context.

What exactly makes you a leader or expert? How did you achieve success? Make sure to use clear, descriptive language with strong, impactful words.

Lead With a Strong Summary

The top of your resume is the most important part, so make that initial impression count. The Ladders study showed that recruiters spend the majority of their few seconds focusing on the top of the resume before skimming the rest. The information at the top of your resume is key to portraying yourself in the best light possible.

Your resume should lead with impressive statements that support your experience and accomplishments. Make sure you create an effective summary that piques a recruiter’s interest, engages their attention and persuades them to continue reading.

The summary should address some central points: Why should employers single out your resume? Why are you right for the position? What will you bring to the company? How will your leadership and skillset positively impact the company?

Focus on Results

Your resume should show, not tell. You should include real-life examples of results you’ve achieved. Use your resume to demonstrate leadership by detailing wins, business improvements and growth.

When you include relevant results, you align proof points with a role’s requirements. Results are often measurable details or metrics that address questions such as: How many? How much? How often?

Brainstorm your specific measurements or metrics:

Did you direct teams? List the size of the largest team: Teams of 500.

Did you manage budgets? Quantify the largest amount: Budgets of $50M.

Did you drive revenue growth? Show the value over time: $45M revenue expansion in 2 years.

Did you expand territory? Quantify the details over time: Reached 25 new markets in 18 months.

Did you save money? How much over what time: $150K annually.

Did you improve processes/efficiency/employee or customer satisfaction? Find a way to measure that result with percentages, amounts or money.

Quantifiable results only serve to further convince a recruiter of why you’re the right candidate. They tell a powerful story of what you’ve accomplished in your career.

Promote Your Value

Your resume should differentiate yourself from the pool of candidates, so make sure you come alive on paper. Be authentic, and focus on how you enrich businesses, teams, processes and people.

To stand out from the crowd, emphasize your personal brand — highlight your unique passions, attributes and drivers. How do your personality and leadership skills make you better at your job? Employers are looking for more than a set of skills; they want a candidate that fits and thrives in their culture.

It’s important to remember that a modern resume isn’t intrinsically about you, but about the value you bring to a potential employer.

Presentation Matters

To further differentiate yourself from the crowd, don’t ignore design. Modern resumes include design elements strategically can help emphasize key points and make your resume unique. While the content of your resume is obviously the most important feature, presentation also matters.

Resumes are your first impression, and as we know, first impressions are frequently influenced by appearance.

Pay attention to the look and flow of your resume; content should be laid out so that it captures and keeps the attention of a reader. You should guide their eyes seamlessly and make clearly evident your value. Clear headings and sections, appropriate use of white space, font style and other design elements will create a modern resume that leaves a lasting impression.

Be Concise

Length alone doesn’t determine a resume’s effectiveness, so don’t fixate on it. Modern resumes are strategic marketing documents — they condense, refine and precisely define your value in relation to what a position requires.

You should focus on the quality of content, alignment of your details with the target role, and the overall readability of your resume. Make each word count: keep the length reasonable, and keep the content relevant. Your resume should demonstrate your value quickly and succinctly.

A modern resume should be tailored and targeted — it should be easy to read, include key details and supporting facts, and flow seamlessly. If you impart these modern resume strategies in your resume, you’ll get noticed and establish yourself as a candidate worth pursuing.

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About the author

Diana Hobler

I’m a journalist by trade, and I’ve worked as a writer and editor covering financial services, personal finance, business and technology. My experience in finance led to a job on Wall Street, where I worked as a writer in marketing for an investment firm before I moved on to freelancing.

I’m a grammar purist with a keen eye for detail, a passion for research, and a penchant for telling descriptive stories. I love the craft of writing, and transforming ideas and quotes into a cohesive, powerful narrative.