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. And I began to wonder: What are the new resume rules?
So, when the Today show asked me to interview three incredible experts: Marci Alboher, 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. Essentially, the job requirements should dictate the resume rules you follow. Especially at big companies, the initial sorting of candidates may be done by computer, by AI (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 largely 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
Perhaps the biggest new resume rule for our digital era is that LinkedIn is your 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, if you have board experience, and who you’re connected to. “When was your last status update?” Alboher asks. If it’s been a long time, you’re missing an important boat. Also, if you’ve hesitated to list your accomplishments on your LinkedIn profile, don’t be bashful. Recruiters are most interested in seeing your big career wins, not reading through a list of day-to-day tasks.
The rest of your social media matters, too
Gen Z job hunters (and soon, Gen Alpah!) often hear advice about toning their social media down. In other words, don’t put something on TikTok that you don’t want the whole world to see. But this is great advice for job seekers of all ages. Any good HR person (or recruiter) is going to check out all your profiles. 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, X, and other accounts, 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’re living in the era of authenticity.
It’s time to embrace all of you, in the workplace and out of it. Countless brands are making efforts to speak to people of all shapes, sizes and preferences. What does this mean for job seekers? Mainly it means figuring out what you need to do to show up with confidence. Once you’ve put your true self 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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