The anatomy of a winning resume

The employment landscape just got a lot more virtual. Everyone went to work in the cloud for a year – apart from the unlucky ones whose jobs evaporated into thin air. Workers quit their jobs rather than trudging back to a brick-and-mortar workplace. The whole wide world went Zoom.

Much of this is a hastening of pre-existing trends. The line between social networking and professional networking has all but disappeared. The printed paper resume has been in decline for years. And the frantic job search has been superseded by the dream job alert .

But applicants aren’t the only ones with automated systems. Regard the rise of the merciless ATS. Never heard of it? An Applicant Tracking System is a robot for reading resumes. Like an evil Johnny 5 devouring endless PDFs, an ATS decides whether a human recruiter will even get to see your resume. A survey from recruitment consultancy company KellyOCG found that 43% of employers use web-based ATS, and 15% already plan to use it.Elevator Pitch NewsletterOnce every 2 weeks, our experts  gather the best career & resume tips you can read in 15 minutes or less. Straight to your inbox!SubscribeBy signing up you agree with our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

The same survey found that 78% of human recruiters believe ATS should automatically assess and notify unsuccessful applicants. So, no matter how virtual employment has become, this is not the time to write heartfelt, formless resumes for dream employers. This is the moment to study and refine the anatomy of a winning resume.

How the Resume Has Changed

When both a robot and a human can find what they’re looking for in your resume, they are more likely to consider you for the job. 

Ultimately, an ATS just wants to do the same as a human recruiter: figure out if your resume is even relevant. Some ATS software will even rank applicants according to relevance. Which means you need to make your resume clear, structured, and keyword-optimized . The job description is your rosetta stone: the words you find here are the ones both robot and human will want to tick off as they scan your application.

But this doesn’t mean you should design your resume for robots. Writing it in ASCII is a no-no 🤭. There’s a good chance a person will look at your CV at some point, so keep it human by printing your name prominently at the top and describing your accomplishments in (short, bullet-pointed) sentences. Make it easy to find your contact details, LinkedIn URL, and professional website (if applicable).

And, um, emojis? Nobody really knows what robots think of them. But as for human recruiters, it is best to tread carefully. Don’t include emojis in your resume unless:

  • You’re sure it’s appropriate to the job/company culture.
  • You’re confident you know how to talk emoji.
  • You’re positive the emotion the emoji conveys is suitable in a resume.

If in doubt, leave it out.

A Resume of Substance in a Virtual World

The resume has evolved to meet the demands of an online, robot-powered generation. But it is still recognizably a resume.

To help you bring your own job strategy up to date, has created a straightforward guide to the anatomy of a modern resume. A brick-by-brick guide to building a document that will be read and understood by the recruiters of the 21st century, sentient or otherwise.

Get started in Google Docs or your word processor of choice, and remember to save your resume as a PDF so the formatting doesn’t go awry. Better still, click Create My Resume to build your document using our tried-and-tested templates.

Good luck – and see you in the metaverse.

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