Redefined: 5 Keys To Today’s Resumes

For everyone but the youngest—or savviest—job seekers, your idea of a resume is probably very similar to Merriam-Webster’s definition:


  • a short document describing your education, work history, and so on, that you give an employer when you are applying for a job.
  • a list of achievements.

Related: 6 Punctuation Tips For A Sexier Resume

In other words, a 1-2 page list of the skills you have, the jobs you’ve done, the education you’ve received, and the contributions you’ve made in the workplace. And whereas I’ll agree that a resume is partly that, if it’s only that… it’s not enough. One of the takeaways from the fifth annual Global Career Brainstorming Day sponsored by Career Thought Leaders—where more than 150 career professionals from across the globe discussed the “new” and the “next” trends in the careers industry—is that today’s resumes need to do and be more than ever before. Here is what’s different today from the resumes Merriam-Webster was referring to:

It’s all about the brand

You need to identify what sets you apart from the crowd, and you need to demonstrate that to potential employers in a memorable way. Let me show you what I mean. What company do you think of if I say: “Can You Hear Me Now?,” “Just Do It,” or “The Ultimate Driving Machine”? Those companies identified their selling points, found ways to communicate their message (including the above slogans, or taglines), and positioned that message where their target audience would be most likely to see—and act on—it. In effect, your job search is an advertising campaign, so you need to carefully consider your brand and be consistent in how you communicate it.

Be attention-getting

And no, I don’t mean using bold or crazy fonts everywhere, or coming off like a heavy sales pitch. Instead, consider how people consume information these days. We scan headlines and subheadings to see whether it’s worth reading, and we’re attracted to bite-size bits of information rather than weighty paragraphs. And as counter-intuitive as it may seem, we don’t have time for mindless fluff, but would prefer to engage with evidence-based data or with stories we can relate to.

One size does not fit all

Sometimes, you’ll have a lot of space to communicate your message, like when you submit a resume online or if you have a dedicated website. Sometimes you may be restricted to a certain number of characters to convey your message, as with a Twitter resume. It’s not enough to have a resume anymore; you need to tailor your text for many different spaces, while keeping your overall brand consistent.

Consider your audience

Smart job seekers tailor their resumes to their audience. This involves everything from choosing the font, to the tone of your writing and what “add-ons” you incorporate. If you’re in a design-oriented field, then by all means link to an online portfolio in addition having printed pieces to show off. If your audience would be impressed by research, white papers, or blog posts… steer them in that direction. Get the idea?

Dress it up

Now more than ever, appearances matter. Your job search documents need to be visually appealing with a clean presentation and lots of white space. And if you can work in visuals like graphs or charts, or break up the text with a testimonial? Even better. One thing that hasn’t changed? Excellent, targeted content is still the most important thing. All the flashy extras in the world won’t get you the job if you can’t make a compelling case for why you’re the best candidate for the company to hire. If the thought of doing even more with your resume is overwhelming, don’t despair. Feel free to reach out to me for help in Targeting Your Success Today. Write a great resume in 15 minutes!

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About the author

Kristin S. Johnson is a TORI award-winning, 6-times certified resume writer, job search coach, and social media consultant. Her approach is cutting-edge, creative, and kind. As owner of Profession Direction, LLC, she works with professionals and aspiring executives across the country.     Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.   Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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