Earn Job Hunting

The New Rules of Resumes (And Other Tips For Snagging That Next Job)

Jean Chatzky  |  November 13, 2018

Create a killer resume that stands out from the crowd in five steps.

A few months ago, I posted an advertisement for a job on media-focused recruiting portal, MediaBistro.com. I’ve used this resource before, and, as usual, the resumes poured in. What was unusual was what the resumes looked like: They didn’t look like resumes at all – many of them looked more like the menus you’d find in a trendy restaurant, with blocks of type in different fonts, separated by borders and dotted with icons. I was intrigued.

So, when the Today show asked me to interview three incredible experts: Marci Alboher, vice president of encore.org and author of “The Encore Career Handbook,” Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources at Indeed, and Tina Wells, founder and CEO of Buzz Marketing Group, on the new rules of work for people 50-plus, a segment sponsored by AARP, I jumped at the chance to bring the R-word up.

Here’s what else I learned:

Let the job description lead you

When you send your resume out in answer to an advertisement, let the job description in that advertisement guide you in what to include—and remove —from your resume. Especially in big companies, the initial sorting of candidates may be done by computer or by a person moving really quickly.

The more words in the ad you match, the more likely you may be to surface from the pile. “Take a look at the job description, understand what the company’s looking for,” says Wolfe. “Then really take a look at your skills and your experiences and hone those to help represent why you’re the best candidate for that job.”

Consider the ‘functional’ resume

The chock-o-block resumes that landed in my email were what’s called functional resumes. They’re appealing to employers, Wolfe says, because while a resume is a static, often staid, document, this gives them a way to pop.

“The question to ask yourself is: How do you make it as attention-grabbing as possible?” he notes. “I think about an HR manager job we posted recently here in our New York office. We got 500 résumés in a couple days.” When someone on the other end goes through those, there’ll be a yes pile, a no pile and a maybe pile. The question is, “How can you quickly catch their eye, give them some good information so that you hopefully make it in the yes pile?”

Once you’ve put that person forward in your resume, on your social profiles, and in your cover letter, you want to show up as that person too – with confidence.   

Your LinkedIn is a de-facto resume

While you’re spending all that time on your resume, don’t neglect your LinkedIn, Alboher notes. A recruiter who checks out your page – and all the good ones do – will learn a lot about you: What you follow. What you’re reading. What causes you care about. Whether you volunteer. If you have board experience. Who are you connected to. “When was your last status update?” Alboher asks.  If it’s been a long time, you’re missing an important boat.

And the rest of your social media matters, too

Gen Z and millennial job hunters often hear advice about toning their social media down. But it matters for people of all ages. Any good HR person is going to look at it. One way to get a handle on the real picture you’re presenting to the outside world is to get an outside perspective. Ask a friend or a family member to review your Linkedin and other pages, and tell them you’ll do the same for them, suggests Wells. “It’s a really good way to turn something that feels like drudgery into more of a ‘personal marketing’ exercise.”

And once you’ve owned you, embrace it

We are living in the era of authenticity.  

The trend right now and it’s a very millennial thing, is to embrace all of you.  I am who I am. I like or I love all of me. We see a lot of brands that are starting to appeal to people of all shapes, all sizes. That may mean letting your grey hair shine.  (“I just read a report that says it’s the hottest hair color of the year,” says Wells.) But mainly it means figuring out what you need to do to show up with confidence. Once you’ve put that person forward in your resume, on your social profiles, and in your cover letter, you want to show up as that person too – with confidence.   

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