Tips to Writing an Impactful Cover Letter and Resume During COVID-19
In the wake of COVID-19, the US job market looks dramatically different than it did in late 2019 or early 2020. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced and companies have had to evolve quickly. Yet while some employers faced drastic cutbacks, others prospered during the pandemic. Companies in the healthcare sector and others that offered various technologies or COVID-relevant solutions grew exponentially.
In correlation with the shifts of this past year, companies that are currently hiring have a wider applicant pool than we see under normal economic conditions. Competition for these positions is fierce, and it will only become fiercer.
To truly stand out from the crowd, you need a resume that will catch an employer’s attention. Spending a few minutes to update your old resume likely won’t cut it, so here are a few things you can do to create a resume you can be proud of—and that employers will notice.
1. Tailor Your Resume for Each Position
Many job applicants think quantity is more important than quality. They send identical copies of their resume across all job openings they encounter. The hope is that if they distribute it widely enough and cast a wide net, it will land them a position somewhere great. Unfortunately, this method rarely works, especially for highly desired professional positions.
When searching for a job, it’s important to read the job description closely. This information provides insight into exactly what the company is seeking. You can then align your professional skills and accomplishments in a way that highlights relevant experience and creates a clear connection to the role. You can also pull out keywords from the job description and use them in your resume.
Tailoring your resume for each position lets you optimize it in a way that meets the company’s needs. It also allows you to truly reflect on each position you’re considering. If updating your resume for a position is difficult, it’s worth considering whether the job is a good match. This process allows you to focus on quality over quantity. You’ll submit fewer resumes, but only for positions you truly want.
2. Update Your Skills to Reflect the Current Needs
The pandemic has dramatically reshaped the way many industries conduct business. Operational processes and service delivery models have transformed completely for many companies, and doing business in an entirely new way often requires different and emerging skills. As many companies have increased their remote positions, the need for specific skills has increased.
Elements of your resume that focus on the following traits are especially valuable:
- Time management strengths and strategies
- Technological and troubleshooting proficiency
- Strong remote-collaboration abilities
- Critical thinking
- Effective verbal and writing skills
- Problem solving
- Leadership skills
- Collaborative skills
While these skills can be difficult to demonstrate, it’s important that they be included on a resume. You can draw on past experiences and explain how they might relate to remote work, even if you don’t have experience working remotely. Describe how you’ve employed these skills in your work history, no matter what the setting may have been. This strategy will ensure that they see the potential you have to bring these skills into a new position.
3. Be Succinct and Exact
Time is a valuable commodity. Employers typically only have six seconds to review each resume. Yes, you read that correctly. Be sure that your resume is easy to read and that your qualifications stand out. The individual reviewing it should be able to get a good impression of what you can offer after a brief scan.
Readability can be increased by removing outdated information, using larger margins, and making the font larger. Formatting a resume like this will force you to only include relevant information, which will stand out. Being concise and succinct is a skill in itself—and one that can be easily demonstrated on a resume.
It’s also crucial to give all resumes a final proofread before sending or submitting them. Employers often trash a resume if they see any error. The rationale is that if the candidate can’t take the time to proofread a resume, they won’t be diligent with their actual work.
4. Draw On Other Experiences
The job market is hypercompetitive right now. Employers are looking for someone who can offer more than the other candidates. COVID-19 has forced many individuals to adapt in other areas of life, not only professionally, and you never know what other traits or experiences can be seen as an asset. If you have fluency in foreign languages or with specific technology, highlight it. If you’ve had to overcome obstacles related to the pandemic, discuss it.
Ultimately, your unique skills and passion will be what lands the job. So, don’t shy away from this type of information. Include it—but remember to convey it in a professional tone. And if you were laid off or had hours reduced due to COVID-19, include that information, too. It’s far better to explain this situation than to leave a gap in your employment history, and if you can stay positive about your job search, many employers will be impressed with your resilience in the face of adversity.
Many individuals who lost their job during COVID have filled their time volunteering or honing their professional skills. If you can include this type of information, it will bring additional value as a job candidate. These experiences demonstrate a candidate who can remain motivated and still create positive experiences.
There can be no doubt that landing a job right now is far more difficult than it has been in the past. Candidates will have to go above and beyond to stand out from the pack. This requires a strong resume that will get the attention needed for a follow-up interview. A strong, easy-to-read resume that highlights the skills needed for the job is the best way to boost your chances of landing a great new position.