We’ve researched and reviewed hundreds of thousands of resumes over the past few months. This has not only helped us create the best resume examples and guide for 2020 but also put together solid data-driven advice for job seekers.
We’re right in the middle of the annual deluge of resume and job search prediction articles. Will the video overtake the paper? Will the traditional resume finally die?
We don’t think so.
However, the traditional resume format has changed, and we’re here to offer you the best 20 pieces of advice out there. So the next time you need a great resume, you’ll have all you need at hand.
1. Show your passion
Every employer wants you to be passionate about what you do. To grab their attention right at the start, you need to show passion for the industry you’d like to join or the job you’re aiming to get. The most effective way we’ve seen this done is by sharing a side-project connected to the position you’re applying for.
When he was applying to a Content Marketer position at Hotjar, Louis shared his side project on his resume. Having interviewed over 10 interviews with top marketers for his podcast, he knew this would catch their attention. The key was to be as specific as possible, including results and specifics. He believes this was one of the things that moved the needle for him.
2. Be specific and show your impact
You’ve probably heard this advice before, but it’s far too easy to forget. But just what do we mean by “show impact?” It boils down to ensuring every bullet in your experience section answers this question: “What was the result of my involvement?” Doing this simple thing ensures your resume will instantly stand out from the rest, particularly those which only list responsibilities.
In addition, instead of 10 bullets per position, focus on 3-5 but make them count. They should be short, concise, and as specific as possible. You can also use Laszlo Bock’s formula: Accomplished X as measured by Y by doing Z. In 2020, every company wants a candidate who can have a positive impact. So show them what you can bring to the table.
3. Use colors to stand out
Another piece of resume advice for 2020 is adding color to your resume. We’re not talking about extremely bright colors that don’t match. We mean subtle colors that complement each other and look professional.
Having a bit of color on your resume can help you stand out from the pile of black and white resumes. If you use the colors of the company you’re applying for, it will instantly signal that you’ve done your research and that it’s not just another position you’re applying for – you really care and want this one.
Top tip: If you’re applying for a highly corporate or a governmental job, maybe using color isn’t the right choice for you. If you decide to use colors, use combinations of grey and black, for example.
4. Read the job description a few times
This is the single piece of advice we can’t repeat enough for 2020. Before you start writing your resume, check the job description, and write down these things:
- Keywords describing skills (soft and hard)
- Keywords describing the experience (the years, responsibilities, etc.)
- Keywords describing culture (“playful team”, etc.)
- Why do you believe you’d be a good fit?
After you do this, make sure you sprinkle those keywords in your resume. The key here is to make it look natural rather than stuff every section with keywords.
Top tip: Even if you don’t have the amount of experience the potential employer required, still apply for the job. Employers often raise the number of years in the job description to filter out the weakest candidates.
5. Research your potential colleagues
It’s easier than ever to find your potential employer and the team members on social media. That’s why it’s not missing in our best resume advice for 2020 list! Right after you read the job description thoroughly, get to know the potential employer. See what their values are, who is their idol, what are they interested in?
Then, while you create your resume, try to mirror their language into your resume. When your potential employer reads it, they’ll feel like you already know each other.
6. Be confident
Your resume is a document that doesn’t only represent your professional experience, but also you as a person. If you’re proud of who you are and what you’ve achieved (you should be, you’re awesome!), it needs to come across on your resume.
You can achieve this by keeping your resume consistent, specific, and balancing the professional (experience, education, projects, etc.) with the personal (passions, most proud of, life philosophy).
7. Make every section count
Having around 2 pages at your service is not the easiest, especially if you have extensive professional experience. For this reason, make sure you only include sections which are relevant and can add the biggest value to your resume.
You can also achieve this by leaving some of your experience out, especially anything which isn’t 100% relevant to the job or company you’re applying for. (Like that waitressing job you did in college!)
What does this have to do with your resume? From our research (especially talking to our users directly), networking is essential to your job search. Not only because it allows you to discover new companies and positions you haven’t heard of yet. But also because it helps you learn new things.
In 2020, make your networking a bit more strategic. To put this in practice you need to first find the company you’re excited about. Then, check whether there are any events this company will be attending (job fairs, conferences, meetups, etc.) Also, check whether they’re organizing some events themselves. If so, definitely attend those and make sure you meet someone from the team. When you send your resume to them, chances are they’ll already know who you are and you’ll be one step closer to that dream job.
9. Send your resume to the right person
What was the process of sending your resume to a potential employer the last time you did it? Was it by hitting the “Apply” button? Probably, and you are not alone! The truth is, this isn’t the most powerful thing to do.
In 2020, send your resume to a relevant person instead of how everyone else is doing it! Find the manager of the department you want to join. If it’s a smaller company, find the CEO and send your resume directly to them. These extra little steps can really help you stand out.
Top tip: To find the email of someone, you can use some free tools such as Hunter. Also, you can check their social media profiles or send them a Linkedin message.
Everyone’s busier than ever these days and missing your email is likely for the potential employer. If you haven’t received a response within a few days, it’s probably because they haven’t seen your email, not that they ignored it.
That’s why you should go ahead and send them a friendly follow-up. In our follow-up email guide, you can find the best advice and examples. In short, send a follow-up after 4-5 business days, with a friendly tone. Don’t send an angry message with “Why haven’t you responded to my email??”
11. Customize your resume for every position
Have you ever send the same resume to multiple employers? We’ve all done it in hopes to save some time. But spending those extra 20 minutes to update your resume can really higher your chances. The reason is that even though the job descriptions seem the same for certain positions, every company is different.
In addition to being all about you, your resume is also about your potential employer. Especially your summary section (if you’re using it) should be tailored for the company you’re applying for.
12. Don’t copy-paste the keywords
Our friends from Fairygodboss (a career blog for women) shared their top resume advice for 2020:
Always tailor your resume! Your generic, send-to-everyone resume won’t land you a competitive job (or even get you in the door for an interview). Here’s what you can do: Take a highlighter, either physical or digital, and mark each word in your resume that relates to the job you’re applying for. Within the job description, you should find each skill and responsibility and then see if you have something that corresponds on your resume.
While you won’t want to copy and paste all these words in arbitrarily, you do have to demonstrate – with your resume – that you read the job description, have the relevant work experience and history, and have the required skills.
13. Let someone else review your resume
It’s never a bad idea to ask someone to look at your resume. Especially if it’s someone who knows you well. Often, they can give you a hand by identifying your strengths and spotting mistakes.
Top tip: When you use Enhancv, be sure to turn the Content Analyzer on. It will spot any vague words, repetition, or grammar mistakes.
14. Give yourself enough time
Honestly, when it comes to resumes, what most of us want is to spend 5 minutes on it and have a resume that will get us that dream job in 2020. But good things take time and so does the writing of a good resume. Remember, the upside is getting the job you want, so spending a bit more effort is worth it.
If you try to rush things, it may result in more mistakes and you might overlook some important things. Think about resume writing as a creative process of self-discovery. Turn on the music you like and check out some amazing resume examples for 2020. Once you have enough inspiration, go ahead and start writing.
15. Reverse chronological order
When you write your experience section, another rule of a thumb is to make it reverse chronological. This means starting from the most recent position and continue down the path. Again. Leave the unnecessary first job out and only keep the relevant one.
Keep your dates consistent, e.g. if you decide to specify months, make sure you mention months everywhere. If you have any gaps, don’t worry. But be sure you have a good reason so that when you get called for an interview, you’ll be ready to answer.
16. Give links to your social media profiles
Once recruiters receive a resume, a lot of them go ahead and check your social media accounts, 38% of them to be exact. Why not make it easier for them and share links to your best accounts? This could be Instagram or Linkedin
If you share your Linkedin, make sure you’ve updated your profile so it’s in line with your resume. If you share your Instagram, make sure all the pictures can only put you in a good light. Otherwise, you’re risking never to hear back from them.
17. Include other relevant links
Biron from Career Sidekick shared his advice for resumes in 2020 with us:
Add a link! Most employers and recruiters read resumes digitally, so 2020 is a great time to start adding a link or two. Putting a link will show them you’re tech-savvy, make your resume stand out at first glance, and increase the time employers spend looking at your background overall.
Here are three ideas of what you can link to:
- A case study showing a before-and-after of a past project. What results did you achieve? How did your past employer benefit from the work you did? Talk about real results, metrics and benefits to that employer, and how you got those results. You can create this as a Google Doc and share the link in your resume “Work History” section underneath your bullets for that role.
- Create a short, 1-2 minute video explaining why you applied for their job and why you’re a great fit. Walk them through the most relevant pieces of your background and show them that you really took the time to read their job description before applying. You can upload this as an “Unlisted” video on YouTube, so only people you’ve shared the link with can view it.
- Put a link to your online portfolio. If you’re a writer, graphic designer, programmer, or anyone else who could showcase past work in a portfolio, consider creating one and putting a link to it on your resume. If you have a website or blog, you can link to that. If not, you can create a one-page portfolio as a Google Doc for free.
18. Name your files properly
When you send your resume and your cover letter to a potential employer, they often put them all into one place. That’s why it’s best to name your files properly, including your first and last name, as well as the name of the document.
In practice, this means: Elon_Musk_resume / Elon_Musk_cover_letter. This way, if your resume ends up in a file with many others, your potential employer will be able to spot your name straightaway.
19. Choose which experience to share wisely
Jon from Jobscan (a place where you can find valuable career advice) said:
Tailoring your resume to the job description isn’t only about matching keywords and trying to beat applicant tracking systems. Emphasize the responsibilities and accomplishments within your experience that are most important to the job for which you’re applying, even if they weren’t where you spent most of your time.
For example, let’s say you had a job in which you spent 27 hours per week fulfilling orders and managing inventory for the company’s online store. You spent the other 13 hours providing customer support. When you apply for a new job as a Customer Service Representative, you don’t need to begin your work experience section with the fulfillment and inventory duties that took up most of your time. Instead, start with and emphasize your customer support experience because it’s what the employer needs to see in order to qualify you for the role. Your other experience can still be mentioned, but it doesn’t need to take up 70 percent of your resume space just because it took up 70 percent of your week.
20. Get a resume writer
Holly from The Work At Home Woman mentioned:
If you’re having trouble crafting your resume, or worse yet, you’re not landing any interviews, it may be time to hire a professional resume writer. Resume writers are often trained career coaches who write persuasively and can help you eloquently showcase your skills and expertise. And since they do this for a living, they know all the strategies, tips, and layouts that will make your resume stand out from the crowd. They’re also great if you’re switching careers as they know how to spin your current talents into attributes for the new occupation you’re trying to break into. This one small investment may help you land your dream job a lot faster.
Top tip: We recommend you write your own resume. You know yourself best, after all. Find a resume writer only if you really feel lost and need additional support.
21. Pick a legible and uniform font
To ensure that the recruiter will read your resume, stick to a font that has a simple typeface and clean margins. Most fonts nowadays are divided in two groups – serifs (with tails), and sans-serifs (without tails).
Choose a resume font that’s easy to read and has an appealing design in its every form (bold, italicized, capitalized, etc.).
Our best suggestion is “Rubik”, but you can always go with a classic font like Verdana, Calibri, Georgia, Cambria, or Arial.
Keep calm and make your move
If you’re not happy at your current job, consider changing it. To make this move, make sure you outline what you like and what you don’t like about your current job. Then, research what other opportunities are out there. Then, create the best resume employers have ever seen!
We hope you liked our advice on how to create the best resume in 2020. If you feel we forgot something important, let us know in the comments!