Many professionals are currently preparing to enter the prime job-search season and face a highly anticipated competitive job market. In order to stand out from the crowd and grab an employer’s attention, it will be more important than ever to understand how expectations around the résumé are shifting to reflect changes in technology, work environments, and employer preferences.
Just as industries transform, so too does the art of presenting oneself on paper. Whether you’re an experienced professional or entering the job market anew, understanding and incorporating these trends can be the key to standing out in a competitive field. Here are three résumé trends that will be important in 2024—and how you can make the most of them for your job search in the new year.
EMPHASIZE SOFT SKILLS
Although employers seem keen to invest in upskilling and reskilling efforts to fill the technical skill gaps that exist within their organizations, their hiring efforts will focus on finding candidates who can bring the right combination of soft skills to a role. It’s much easier to train someone to use a new computer program than it is to teach them to become more empathetic in the workplace. And these soft skills—such as emotional intelligence, adaptability, effective communication, and conflict resolution, to name a few—are essential for professionals across all levels to build positive workplace relationships, foster a collaborative environment, and adapt to the evolving demands of the modern workplace.
While it may seem easier to demonstrate your soft skills during the interview process, there are ways to showcase your soft skills throughout your résumé. Start by taking a closer look at the job posts that interest you to identify which soft skills should be highlighted. Then, incorporate these skills into your résumé by weaving them into your professional summary, listing them in your skills section, and illustrating them at work via the work achievements in your professional experience section.
Remember the golden résumé rule to “show, not just tell:” If you only list a skill at the top of your résumé, you haven’t proven to the reader that you truly possess the skill or that you’ve mastered it. Use the professional experience section of your résumé to provide examples of how you leveraged these skills to create a positive change.
FOCUS ON OUTCOMES
One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to explain the outcomes of your work through your accomplishments and contributions. These details provide the necessary context for hiring professionals to truly appreciate your skills and the value you could bring to their organization. When you’re facing a competitive job market—something job seekers should anticipate in the new year—there is no better way to catch the attention of employers than by helping them connect the dots between your skills and their impact.
Anyone can say they have great sales skills or are a whiz at finance, but it’s the candidate whose résumé offers proof of these qualifications who will receive the most attention. This proof can come in the form of specific examples, figures, or case studies. Wherever possible, quantify your achievements with numbers and metrics to show the value you’ve created for your past employers.
For example, “Successfully delivered a complex software development project three weeks ahead of schedule, meeting all project milestones and achieving a 15% cost savings by optimizing resource allocation and negotiating favorable vendor contracts. The project resulted in a 20% increase in customer satisfaction compared to previous projects” sounds a lot more impressive than, “Successfully delivered a complex software development project ahead of schedule and under budget.”
Even if you can’t think of the numbers, try to think in terms of better, faster, and cheaper. Ask yourself, “What was the tangible benefit of my actions?” Try to identify the positive impact your actions made.
OPTIMIZE FOR AI
It’s no secret that technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are impacting every aspect of the business world, including how employers find, select, and manage talent. In fact, one study found that 83% of U.S. companies already use some form of AI technology in HR, including recruitment, while another study stated that 65% of recruiters already use AI technology as part of their talent acquisition process.
Job seekers are also taking advantage of AI, with nearly one in two job seekers using generative AI (GenAI) chatbots like the chatGPT to help write at least part of their job applications, according to this 2023 survey. While these tools have many benefits, they are not without their risks. GenAI chatbots can hallucinate inaccurate information and, if not carefully edited, can create documents that sound inauthentic or robotic. Most importantly, they don’t always follow résumé best practices.
In the coming year, expect to see more job seekers turning to new products that combine the power of AI with expert knowledge of résumé best practices, rather than relying on chatGPT alone. In addition, it will be more important than ever for job seekers to optimize their résumés for applicant tracking systems (ATS) and other AI-based tools.
This process includes tailoring your résumé with specific keywords found in the job listing; sticking to a simple layout with consistent formatting, a clear hierarchy of information, and plenty of white space; avoiding the use of images, unusual fonts, or custom bullet points; carefully proofreading your résumé for typos or grammatical errors that could confuse the system; and sticking with a standard document format like Word (.docx) that can be easily parsed to create a résumé that is AI-optimized to get past the initial screening process and land interviews.
However you decide to apply these trends to your job search in the new year, make sure your résumé not only follows current résumé best practices, but that it also achieves the three As: provides an Accurate description of your skills, work experience, and education; emphasizes your most Applicable qualifications for the role; and offers an Authentic reflection of your personality and work style.
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James Dyson believes his biggest successes were born from failures