Job-hunting 101: Create the perfect resume to switch jobs

Do you feel you’ve reached a point of stagnation in your current job? 

In the recent Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index, a significant percentage (41%) of new-age professionals answered a similar question with a resounding ‘yes’ when indicating their willingness to switch jobs.

Maybe you will answer the same way. Maybe you want to switch because growth has stopped in your current role, or maybe you’re planning to switch your industry. Maybe financial factors are a key motivator for you, or maybe you just want a change in scenery and want to explore different roles. 

But whatever your reasons might be, getting a new job is a daunting task not dissimilar to dating someone new. And, all of it starts with the first impression: your resume.

The resume either leaves a gripping impression on your prospective employer or leaves them thoroughly unimpressed. It is the first hurdle you must cross to get recruiters on your side to land an interview. So, let’s have a look at how you can make this first impression count.

1. Make it easy to read by categorizing information

Given that recruiters spend less than 8 seconds on each resume, your resume should catch the eye – and the best way to do so is by providing the most relevant information in an easy-to-consume format. Keep this in mind while choosing the design, as it can help you highlight the key skills and experience needed for the role. Communicate the most relevant information in the first pass; for instance, if you are applying for a finance-related role, it will not help you to highlight your experience with marketing, and vice-versa.
It also helps to be clear while stating your career objective in the resume. For instance, you can say that you’re looking for a job with a specialization in XYZ framework(s) or job function(s). So, when a prospective employer looks at your resume, they will know right away if and where there is an overlap of mutual interests.

2. Make it concise

There’s a fine line between providing enough information and information overload. If your resume is too lengthy, it will naturally lose its impact. No employer wants to spend a considerable amount of time reading through a long resume.
A good rule of thumb is to be concise. This means that you don’t have to spell out everything about your job history; let the employer do the reading in-between the lines. Keep your resume to a single page. This will tell the employer that you’re confident about your skills and credentials, without turning them off with too much information.

3. Formatting and grammar matter a lot

Making a resume can be a time-consuming process, which is why you may feel that leaving that slight spatial misalignment is okay, or that no one is going to notice that extra gap after punctuation or that minor grammatical error. This impression can lead a potential employer to assume that you are not attentive to details, or that your communication may be lacking. Such fine margins can often be the difference between shortlisting a candidate and rejecting them outright.

Use the formatting to your advantage. Embolden or italicize keywords or key phrases to redirect the recruiter’s attention to the best parts of your resume. Ensure that the formatting is clean and simple, and proofread the resume once before sending it ahead to identify and correct any lingering typos or errors.

4. Do your research

When applying for a job, you must ensure that it is a good match for your current skills and experience – and that your resume reflects this. This helps when your employer is very particular about the hiring criteria or when you’re applying for a job that’s very specialized and not open to the general public.

5. Keep it positive

Remember, a positive impression lasts a long time. Instead of detailing the challenges you faced in your previous jobs, highlight how you addressed these challenges. Mention the skills that you’ve gained and how they’re relevant to the job that you’re applying for. If you lack some essential skills, highlight skills that are similar to the ones being sought and display eagerness to acquire the same. For example, if you’ve worked with PHP and are applying for a job that requires NodeJS to render server-side applications, it may help to highlight if you have knowledge and skills in similar areas, such as JavaScript, as well as to showcase your executed projects.

6. While switching between careers

It is specifically difficult to get a new job when you’re switching careers. During your previous job, you might have developed skills that are not relevant to the industry that you’re applying to. In such cases, it is best to begin right at the beginning and think of your resume as a stepping-stone – a way to gain experience in your new field.

You can highlight relevant skills that are transferable from your previous career. It also helps to define your objectives for your career change and provide proof of your skills, if possible. Furthermore, it’s always better to do a bit of research and find out different roles and responsibilities that are a part of the job that you’re looking for. You may discover something that intersects with your current skills and, even better, have a unique skill that may add unrealized value to the industry or job process.

7. Don't forget the tech

Getting a job in today’s world requires a lot of effort, and so does recruiting. As you target a handful of prospective employers, your employers will be receiving hundreds of resumes at once (if not thousands). To manage the sheer volume, they typically leverage tools such as Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and resume ranking solutions that allow them to match a resume against the job description and find the one that is most suitable for their company.

So, it’s not enough to just have a great resume and upload it to a career site; you also need to make it compatible with the ATS as well. In other words, make it easier for such tools to extract key insights from your resume so that they can rank you better. So, personalize your resume based on the keywords or skillsets used in the job description.

With the job landscape currently undergoing an evolution, there has been no better time than now to apply for jobs. With the labor market changing so drastically, you have more avenues to shape your career towards a higher growth trajectory. Using these insights can help you get ahead and win the day!

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