Résumés: What’s in and what’s out in 2014

On “Project Runway,” Heidi Klum often declares, “One day you’re in, the next day you’re out.” While she’s referring to fashion, the cyclical nature of trends extends to résumés and job-search tactics as well. And if your résumé style is out in 2014, you may well be out, too.

To make sure you’re keeping up with the trends and away from major résumé disasters, check out what’s in and what’s out in 2014.

IN: Keywords that match job descriptions
Many employers use applicant tracking systems to screen résumés and generate a short list of candidates. To ensure that your résumé makes it through the ATS, try “greater research into the position and employer to identify a higher percentage of the employer’s keywords associated with specific positions, then creatively embed them in the application and résumé,” says Hank Boyer, president and CEO of Boyer Management Group and author of the “Job Search Readiness Assessment.”

OUT: Listing your daily tasks as experience
Instead of using valuable space to tell employers about your basic responsibilities at previous jobs, use the section they’re most likely to pay attention to for impressive feats and stand-out accomplishments. Boyer advises including “quantified, employer-focused accomplishments listed in bullet point under each work experience. For example, ‘With team of 12 telemarketers, achieved 131 percent of productivity objectives, with a customer positive rating of 98.2 percent.’”

IN: Creating and using multiple drafts and formats
Just as no two jobs are the same, no two résumés should be the same. Boyer suggests creating multiple drafts and formats for different roles, to make it through different application mediums and screening tools. “[Create] multiple résumés, customized for each position, in both .txt and .doc formats to allow for use in online applications and ATS’s (.txt), and for traditional printed copies and PDF emailing (.doc).”

OUT: Including an objective statement
“Replace the outdated ‘objective statement’ and include a summary of your qualifications at the top of your résumé,” says Carri Nebens, executive hiring manager and owner of Equis Staffing. “This swap offers a more personal look at you and what you could bring to the job. This should be three to five sentences long and should be tailored specifically for the job you are applying for. Be straight to the point, and market yourself as the ideal person for the job. Be compelling and concise, using this section to paint a picture of your characteristics, experience and achievements.”

IN: Pointing employers to your online presence
While you only get so much room on an application or résumé, there’s likely much more you’d like to share with prospective employers. The best way to do this? “Include your LinkedIn URL,” Nebens says. “First, if you haven’t already, you should create a LinkedIn profile, as LinkedIn profile URLs are becoming standard to put on your résumé. A LinkedIn profile will allow prospective employers the opportunity to learn more about your skills and better assess your qualifications. Make sure to fully develop your profile prior to listing your URL and align your résumé’s goal with your profile, so both are telling the same story.”

OUT: “References available upon request”
Similar to the objective statement, including references or “references available upon request” is a waste of valuable résumé real estate and just repeats the obvious. Ellis Chase, president of EJ Chase Consulting Inc. and author of “In Search of the Fun-Forever Job: Career Strategies that Work,” recommends omitting the standard references line. “‘References available upon request’ was great in 1955. Not so much now. What are you going to say — ‘References not available upon request’? Lose it.” Instead, expand other sections that need the space. Chase suggests creating an “Additional relevant information” section, where you can list your skills, languages and technologies that are immediately relevant to the desired targets.

Get Your Resume Out There The Right Way

Don't start sending a resume out until it's ready

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By Alex Freund

People in transition or those who contemplate making a job change should not start dispersing their résumés all over the place before those résumés are up to snuff. I know that people in transition are very eager to get back in the game, to restore their (temporarily) lost identity, and to restart the flow of income, but the biggest mistake they make at this point is to start blasting weak credentials. Once your résumé hits cyberspace, you never know where it's going to end up. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that before you post a résumé, it be a solid and strong one.

Next, the question is where to post it? Generally there are three types of job boards: 
  • The big and popular job boards such as HotJobs.com, Monster, and CareerBuilder.com are musts. While there may be overlaps among them, you never know which one is used by which recruiter or which potential employer.
  • Those in the six-figure-income range can also post their résumés on such job search sites as sixfiguresjob.com, which is still free. They can also possibly try for at least one month certain others such as TheLadders.com and ExecuNet, which charge a small fee. The value of these sites is hotly debated among their users. Some job seekers were greatly helped by them, while others considered it a waste.
  • There are several other, specialized sites such as lawjobs.com, Biospace, and HigherEdJobs, which should be used as appropriate.

A question I'm being frequently asked is how many job boards to use. My answer is that five to eight are suitable. Posting on job boards is laborious when setting them up for the first time. After doing so, it's important to visit the sites daily -- yes, daily -- and make a small change such as adding or deleting a line and then saving the change. Doing that makes your résumé appear to be fresh. Recruiters have many fresh résumés to choose from, so why should they bother looking at older ones whose owners may have already found employment elsewhere?

The push and the pull

Now that you've pushed your résumé out into cyberspace, you should pull in openings that have been posted. Several job search sites do that for you. They're known by the term aggregators. Indeed.com is one of the most popular ones, and there are others such as JobCircle and Simply Hired.

The aggregators are very user-friendly, and as a job seeker, you should set up a number of job alerts, as they are called, to reach your in-box daily. In fact, you should have several of them based on different keywords you've used and the distance from your ZIP code that you're willing to commute to a job. The disadvantage of these types of sites is that there will be many duplicates. It takes a few trials and errors before hitting it right.

Good hunting!