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IT careers: How to write a resume in 2020
As companies ramp up their use of AI tech to sort through resumes, the already stressful job search process is getting even more challenging. Here's how to beat the bots and boost your chance of success
COVID-19 has changed the game for most business processes, and job hunting is no exception. Job fairs, face-to-face interviews, and networking meetups are virtually off the table, at least for now. As job seekers navigate this new normal, they should keep a few things in mind.
For starters, companies are relying more heavily on technology when it comes to recruitment and hiring decisions. Monster, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and most other leading job boards use AI-powered applicant tracking systems like iCIMS and Taleo to shortlist potential candidates. Understanding how these systems work is just as important as understanding what employers are looking for.
It’s critical to write a resume that can “beat the bots” by providing the information AI is using to filter applicants. Below are five ways to maximize your chances of being hired in the pandemic world.
1. Watch your language
The machines that “read” resumes are targeting keywords that are relevant to the job to be filled. For the best chance of moving forward and getting your resume in front of a human, use wording from the job description in your resume – without making it a carbon copy of the job requirements, of course.
2. New job, new resume
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to job applications, so it’s important to adapt the content of your resume to each position you apply for. (Cover letters are largely a thing of the past, although a generic one may suffice if an employer asks for one.)
Make sure your resume is relevant to the specific job you’re applying for – a resume for a help desk management role won’t work for a QA management position, for example. Emphasize experiences that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for to increase your chance of securing a follow-up.
3. Cut irrelevant experience
Keep your work history as concentrated as possible by focusing on only the last ten years of your career. You might understandably be tempted to highlight your seniority or breadth of experience, but this could dilute your competitiveness to the AI. Especially if the roles you held over a decade ago were more junior, their appearance may prompt the system to recommend you for more junior roles than the one you’re interested in. Keeping your history fresh, relevant, and limited to the most recent decade will boost your chance of getting an opportunity to highlight your full history with a real person.
4. Double-page it
For years, traditional recruiter wisdom has encouraged the one-page resume. This is based on the notion that a good recruiter can determine your worth within the first six seconds of reading your resume, so the resume should be as concise as possible.
But if you have enough experience to merit a second page, use it! As long as your resume is focused, well-written, includes content from the desired job description, and articulates what you can do well, having two pages is entirely acceptable. For senior roles, two-page resumes are often preferred as they show the depth of your work experience, making it more likely that you’ll be shortlisted.
5. No pictures, please
In most cases, there is no need to include images within a resume. Images drastically increase the file size of a standard resume, which may impact whether the AI views your resume at all. If you need to add images to your resume, do it after you’ve made it past the initial screening and are meeting with a real person.
While online tools have long dominated the job search process, our new normal makes it difficult to supplement an online application with an in-person appearance. Knowing how to navigate this space is critical to a successful job-search strategy in the age of COVID-19.
Stay safe and healthy – and best of luck in your job search!
[ Want more on trends in IT talent? Read the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: IT Talent Strategy: New Tactics for a New Era. ]