Job searching can be stressful and overwhelming; add in the COVID-19 pandemic, and it can be downright paralyzing. Maintaining a winning resume that sells YOU has never been more important, so I’d like to share a few tips to help.

Most of us can agree that putting your professional experience on a piece of paper is daunting for any professional, whether you are newly entering the job market or a seasoned executive. Be that as it may, since this very task may be what is standing between you and your dream, it is critical that you prepare a winning resume.  I am not going to go line by line and create one with you. Instead, I’ll share my guiding philosophy on how to best craft your resume to successfully pass through any AI system and highlight your achievements so the hiring manager or HR professional will be able to visualize you in the role the moment you hit submit.

The first crucial task is to make it past the AI in the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). After all, what good is writing a resume if it cannot bypass this AI, preventing anyone from seeing it in the first place? Do your research and use the verbiage of the company. If they use Customer Success as opposed to Customer Care, make sure your resume includes that phrase. Review their recent press releases, earnings reports, job descriptions, and website to mirror the exact phrases and use them throughout your resume whenever possible. Nearly all companies, regardless of size, utilize an ATS so do not skip this step! Even if they are a small organization, these are very cost-effective systems often used to automate the process and identify top talent quickly. Additionally, to break through the automated screening do not utilize tables, columns, or graphics in your resume. While it may be tempting, especially if you are in a creative field (which may be the exception here!), those kinds of formats often get swiftly filtered out by the AI.

Second, craft your resume with accomplishment-driven bullet points instead of a simple description of your job with the duties and responsibilities listed. Using action-oriented words will make you stand out and assist the reader with visualizing you in the role. You are not only telling the story of what you do, but also how it positively impacts the company, and the use of tangible data is critical to your success. If you think you do not have any quantifiable results to include, you are mistaken. Measurable results can be represented in several ways, including time defined by reducing labor hours on a process or an increased customer success score. The simple step of taking the task and action all the way to the result will make you stand out from your competition. For example, a finance professional might write, “I reduced the time to close monthly financials by 8 days by automating the process within our current ERP system.” The tasks – the monthly close, the action automating the process utilizing the ERP system available, lead to the outcome of eight extra days of labor hours available for resource allocation.

Resumes can be difficult to build, but keeping one current with clear results is what will ensure you get you noticed when the opportunity presents itself. There are endless templates and tutorials online for the format, but a concise and professional story is what will set you apart. We are in an unprecedented time in history right now and the future holds many unknowns, following these guidelines and maintaining a resume that sells will make all the difference in helping you stand out, and ultimately reach your goals.