By now, we’ve all heard about the tough job market of 2022-2023. From rumors of corporations putting out fake job postings to companies requiring college degrees for minimum wage positions, it’s tough out there.
During my time as a professional resume writer, I’ve helped hundreds of people from various industries rewrite their resumes and develop a strategic approach to landing their next job. While chatting with these professionals, I realized a few truths about why the current job market is so hard to crack.
Although companies have shifted their expectations for applicants, many of the roadblocks unemployed individuals face can be overcome by making some simple adjustments to their resumes. To fully understand what makes a good resume for today’s job market, it’s important to analyze some of the top reasons it’s so hard to get a job these days.
Why is it Hard to Get a Job?
From the significant impact that COVID-19 had on businesses, both small and large, to heightened expectations and revolutionary technology, there are a plethora of reasons why it is currently difficult to land a job. While we can only control what is within our reach, it is beneficial to gain a full picture of what has changed in the job market these past few years.
Corporations are not only expecting new employees to come already familiar with their workplace technology, but they also require applicants to have a college degree before they are considered. This may not seem that bad for executive roles, but it is a steep ask for a position that only pays minimum wage (or slightly above).
We’re living in a world where it is no longer the norm to stay at a job for 10, 20, or even 30 years. With people changing jobs every 2-4 years, companies have higher expectations for those they hire. Instead of spending a year on training someone just to have them leave shortly after, they are seeking out professionals who can jump in almost immediately.
Aiming Too High
With that being said, many applicants come to the table with misaligned expectations for what types of positions they qualify for. Remember, many organizations don’t want to spend as much time as they did before to train new hires.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t apply for the job anyway! It never hurts to try. It would be in your best interest to apply to jobs at various levels to ensure you aren’t aiming too high and putting yourself in a position where you never receive interview requests.
Did you know that most companies now use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sift through resumes and cover letters? That’s right. Before HR representatives even take a look at a resume, it often has to make it through ATS first.
With applicant tracking systems sorting through resumes, many people are getting rejected before their document gets viewed by a real person. This makes the process of hiring new employees more convenient for companies while simultaneously forcing applicants to jump through hoops just to get their resumes seen.
On the bright side, there are some steps you can take to optimize your resume for ATS. You can also hire a professional resume writer to help you out!
Major Resume Mistakes That’ll Set You Back
I will always recommend hiring an expert resume writer. When it comes to writing professional documents about ourselves, our minds can easily become clouded by our personal feelings and self-judgments about our work experience.
We may think something is highly important to include on a resume when it really isn’t. We can become self-conscious about aspects of our careers that employers won’t even care about. Hiring a professional resume writer will allow you to take that much-needed step back to ensure your professional documents are polished, pristine, and prepared to get you hired.
Rewriting, reformatting, and developing a brand new strategy for your resume can be tough, because it’s hard to separate ourselves from our personal feelings about our experiences. As such, we end up putting irrelevant details on our resume that end up being detrimental to our efforts.
You were elected Student Council president in high school? That’s great, but it doesn’t belong on your resume. Although there’s no doubt that you worked very hard to get voted as “president’ when you were seventeen years old, that fact is not relevant to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position you are applying for at a Fortune 500 company.
Similarly, unless you are going on to be an Athletic Trainer, your experience in college sports probably does not belong on a resume. Do you see where I’m going with this? It would benefit you greatly to take a serious look at what is truly relevant to helping you achieve your current career goals.
Irrelevant Details for Most Resumes:
- High School Clubs
- High School Sports
- College Clubs
- College Sports
- Award Nominations
- Awards Outside of Immediate Sector
- An Objective Statement
- Marital Status
Of course, like everything else in life, there will be exceptions to this rule. For the most part, the items above do not need to appear on your resume.
Jobs Over 15-20+ Years
Speaking of irrelevant details, jobs that are older than 15-20+ years are probably doing nothing for your resume other than weighing it down. Consider that job you had decades ago and put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. Do you think they will care that you worked in that position at that company so many years ago? Probably not.
If the reason you’re keeping a job on a resume is to just show that you had a job during that time, don’t. Instead of keeping irrelevant jobs listed on your resume, add a note at the bottom of your document that “more work experience is available upon request.” This will show that you haven’t listed everything and that you can discuss any time gaps on your resume if they find it concerning.
Too Many Graphics
This may be considered a hot take, but I firmly believe Canva resume templates are where job searches go to die. You may think that those bright, stylized resumes will work in your favor. In reality, they’ll probably do more harm than good.
For starters, resumes with too many graphics don’t play well with applicant tracking systems. Furthermore, they tend to have more images and features than actual context about your expertise and experiences. An image of your face, little bar graphs of your skills, and clip art will tell far less about if you’re fit for that job than actually giving yourself room to write thoughtful job descriptions and skill explanations.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to have some color on your resume. But you can ditch the graphics that cause more clutter than insight!
Simply Listing Buzzwords
Employers can see when you’re bullshitting and just listing a bunch of industry buzzwords. Instead of a bank of sector vocab words and acronyms, try to integrate those words into a statement that describes what you can offer the company.
If you’re not sure, buzzwords are those specific terms and acronyms that only someone in your field will understand. For teachers, it’s “growth mindset,” “data-driven teaching,” and “IEP or ELA.” For engineers, it’s “stormwater management,” “operations management,” and “project estimation.”
Every industry has them, and they should be included on a resume. However, you need to make sure you’re including them in context and not just listing them as single phrases in a table.
How to Improve Your Resume
Now that you have addressed the common mistakes, we can turn our focus on what you can do moving forward to improve your resume. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to resume writing. This is because there are no two people in the world who have the exact same work experience with matching future goals.
It’s likely your resume will look quite a bit different than those in your life. That’s okay! Try to make your professional document as organized and streamlined as possible while still being informative for hiring managers.
Use Bullet Points Instead of Paragraphs
As stated by Mercy College, employers only view resumes for about 7 seconds before they decide to read further or move on to the next applicant. Therefore, having large chunks of text and paragraphs is a quick way to build reader fatigue and have your resume passed up. Try bullet point statements starting with powerful words and phrases rather than paragraphs.
Keep Your Resume a Reasonable Length
Try to keep your resume under two pages. Remember, not every job, award, duty, or volunteer experience is relevant to your current job search and future career goals. It’s okay to leave some of these items off to save space and chisel your resume down to only what is most relevant. Hiring managers will appreciate an informative condensed version more than a 6-page manifesto.
Don’t be Afraid of Color
It’s okay to add a pop of color to help the reader understand how your information is organized. Of course, you want to avoid overly bright shades that don’t match the vibe of the industry you’re applying for. Making your headers a different color than the body text is a great way to add interest and build an aesthetically-pleasing resume.
Hire an Expert Resume Writer
One of the best ways you can invest in your future is to hire an expert resume writer! Not only can they remove the time-consuming task of writing a resume from your plate, but they can also provide peace of mind that you’re heading in the right direction.
Moreover, hiring a resume writer can also give you access to someone who has ample experience in other areas of getting hired. Cover letters, application questions, and post-interview emails are all areas in which they can help you out.