Writing a résumé in 2022 is just as stressful, confusing and time-consuming as it was in 2021, 2001 and even 1981.
But here’s the thing: the job market keeps changing, new résumé trends keep emerging, and hiring practices keep evolving. This means that, while the basics remain the same (use a professional font, don’t include references, don’t lie, etc), writing a résumé today requires a somewhat different approach from years past.
But fret not. Whether you’re writing your very first résumé or you’re a veteran jobseeker, we got you covered. Here are our 10 tips for crafting a job-winning résumé in 2022.
1. Keep it to one page
On average, a single job opening receives 250 job applications. Now, if a company is advertising 10 vacancies, that means recruiters have to potentially get through 2,500 résumés — that’s a lot of reading. And with the average recruiter’s attention span at 7.4 seconds, you need to make sure your résumé grabs their attention from the get-go.
One way to achieve this is by keeping your résumé as concise as possible, ideally no more than one page long — but don’t crowd it with too much content. Of course, if you’re further along in your career (with 10 or more years of relevant work experience) or if you’ve got plenty of impressive accomplishments to showcase, then it’s perfectly fine to go over one page. If you do, though, make sure that the most important information is presented within the top third of the first page.
2. Be unique
Remember: recruiters receive a ton of résumés that they need to get through to find the perfect candidate. And for the most part, they nearly all read the same — I’ve lost count how many times I’ve personally seen the phrase “Self-motivated professional who thrives in fluid environments while remaining pragmatic and focused” being used by jobseekers in their résumés. And it’s just boring — it makes me switch off, as any other hiring manager can attest to.
Your résumé should stand out from, not fit in with, the competition — it has to be as unique as a snowflake if you want to get noticed. This means getting rid of overused jargon and buzzwords, and injecting some personality into your résumé (whether that’s adding some color, mentioning unique and relatable hobbies, or using charts and graphs to illustrate important accomplishments).
3. Use actionable language
Your skills, experience and qualifications are what really matter on your résumé, but how you communicate that information is what keeps recruiters reading your résumé. Indeed, the more engaging and impactful your résumé, the more interest it elicits from readers — and the better are your chances of being invited to an interview.
So, how do you grab — and maintain — their attention? That’s easy: you use actionable language. In other words, incorporate powerful action words (like “Mentored”, “Orchestrated” and “Generated”) throughout your résumé — particularly in the summary section and at the beginning of bullet points.
4. Write for applicant tracking systems
You’re not just writing your résumé for hiring managers and recruiters. You’re also writing for robots — specifically: applicant tracking systems. Better known as ATS for short, an applicant tracking system is a specialist software that’s designed to simplify the recruitment process by filtering through résumés based on preset criteria — before they’re even read by a human being.
Although you can never really know for sure what these criteria are (employers don’t explicitly advertise them), you can get a general idea of what they are by carefully reading through the job description. Indeed, if you read between the lines, you’ll be able to identify what employers are looking for in the ideal candidate, and then frame your résumé around those requirements by incorporating important keywords and phrases from the ad.
It’s also important to make your résumé readable for ATSs. This means no complex formatting (especially columns and tables, though there are ways around this), as most ATSs generally “read” résumés from left to right. Essentially, you risk having sections being jumbled together or entire chunks of text being completely lost.
5. Ditch the objective statement for a career summary
Employers don’t really care about what you are looking for or what your professional goals are. What they do care about is the skills and qualifications you bring to the table that will advance the company’s success.
This means one thing: you need to frame your résumé around the employer’s needs and wants, not your own. And this, in turn, means replacing the outdated objective statement with an impactful career summary. While they both act as an introduction to your résumé, the objective statement focuses on what you want, while the career summary focuses on what you offer.
Here’s a comparison:
- Objective statement: Award-winning graphic designer with 10+ years’ experience seeking employment with a fast-growing startup.
- Career summary: Award-winning graphic designer with 10+ years’ experience of creating engaging designs to reach target demographics, communicate a powerful message, and effectively promote a call to action.
6. Add links to your online presence
As the world rapidly deepens its journey into the digital era, the need for an online presence as a jobseeker is more important than ever before. In fact, a CareerBuilder survey found that 57% of hiring managers were less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online.
Since they will look for you online, you might as well include links to your online presence in your résumé. At the very least, you should have a complete, up-to-date and factually accurate LinkedIn profile, but it’s all a good idea to link to your professional social media accounts (the keyword here is “professional”), as well as your personal website or online portfolio (particularly if you’re a creative professional with a body of work to show off).
A word to the wise, though: make sure your online presence is in tip-top shape (specifically: getting rid of anything that could hinder your job search success, or at least setting your personal social media profiles to private). And don’t forget to optimize your presence for search engines.
7. Choose the right résumé format
There are three main résumé formats: the reverse chronological, the functional, and the hybrid.
The reverse chronological focuses on your work history, which is presented in, you got it, reverse chronological order. The functional, on the other hand, is designed to focus on your professional skills. Finally, the hybrid format gives equal weight to both your work history and your skills.
All three formats have their own advantages (the hybrid, for example, is generally recommended for career changers), but the reverse chronological is by far the most widely used and, as such, recognized across all industries. This format is the most universal of all (as it works for every career situation) and is the one that hiring managers are most familiar with.
8. Highlight and quantify your achievements
When writing your employment history section, there’s no need to list your many duties and responsibilities — recruiters know exactly what the job of a teacher or a doctor entails, after all, so you only end up wasting valuable résumé real estate. Instead, focus on showcasing your achievements (specifically what you did and how it benefited your employer).
But don’t just mention your achievements — quantify them too. Employers love numbers and data (like years of experience, number of awards won, or dollar amount of revenue or sales), as they clearly demonstrate your successes and what you bring to the table.
For example, “Trained a small team of web designers” can become “Trained a team of 10 web designers”, and “Improved product sales” can become “Improved product sales by 16%, which led to a 24% increase in annual revenue”.
9. Showcase your remote working skills
The whole landscape of job searching and hiring has rapidly changed with the advent of remote work, largely thanks to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 61% of US companies have adopted either a fully remote or a hybrid work model since the pandemic.
This means that most employers are looking for a unique skillset in candidates today. They want to know that you’ve adapted to the “new normal” and that you’ve got what it takes to succeed in a remote job.
They’re particularly looking for things like self-motivation and discipline, and even familiarity with remote working software like Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which you can showcase in your list of achievements as well as your skills section. Even if you don’t have any real remote work experience, highlighting your transferable skills will convince hiring managers that you’re worthy of an interview.
10. Keep it recent
One thing I’ve seen many applicants do over and over again is list every single job they’ve ever had in their résumé. I’m here to plead with you not to do that.
It only makes your résumé a very long read, which can make busy recruiters “switch off” — and this is something you want to avoid entirely. You also risk listing outdated, irrelevant and obsolete skills and technologies that carry no weight and that potentially reveal your age to prospective employers (which can, sadly, work against you if you’re a more mature jobseeker).
As a general rule of thumb, only list relevant experiences and qualifications within the last 10 to 15 years. There is, however, one exception to this rule: if you held the same job for 15 or more years. Meanwhile, if you held a job at a major company past the 15-year cutoff point, you can still include it, but keep it to the bare minimum — that is to say: get rid of bulleted lists of responsibilities and achievements.
Use this free checklist to write a stellar résumé in 2022 — and avoid common mistakes in the process:
To wrap things up, here’s everything you need to know about writing a résumé in 2022:
- Keep your résumé to one page, but don’t crowd it with too much content.
- Inject some personality and get rid of overused jargon and buzzwords.
- Use action words in the summary and at the beginning of bullet points.
- Incorporate keywords from the job description, and make sure your résumé is optimized for ATSs.
- Ditch the objective statement, and instead use a summary.
- Include links to your LinkedIn profile and professional social media accounts.
- Use the reverse-chronological résumé format.
- Focus on achievements, not duties, and use numbers and data to quantify those achievements.
- Highlight your remote working skills.
- Only list relevant experience within the last 10 to 15 years.
Got a question or something to add? Let us know in the comments section below!