26+ Resume Tips And Advice For 2021 [With Expert Insights]

Published on: 1 January 2021 Last updated: 11 February 2021

At the end of every year, we sit down at the Enhancv headquarters, and we analyze our database to come up with the best resume tips. This year is no different. We spent a week or so sifting through data, speaking with resume writing experts, and infusing some Enhancv know-how to craft the 2021s ultimate list of resume tips.

There’s a lot to read, so I’ll keep this intro short. Below you’ll find a list of twenty-six resume writing tips that will get you an interview. We’ll also go through a few important questions like “Will the video resume take over?” and “Will the traditional resume finally die?”.

The TLDR answer to both, for now, is definitely “No.”, but recruitment is changing, and so is the traditional resume.

Resume writing tips: Write a resume like a professional.

Writing a resume is no easy task. You have a lot of work in order to transform a good resume into a great one.

How you write is how recruiters picture you. We’ve gone in-depth on the topic of how to write an impressive personal resume, but we’re also going a step further with the tips below to ensure your resume stands out.

1. Show your passion (project).

This tip is for: Job seekers with little or no experience.

Every employer wants you to be passionate about what you do. To grab their attention right from the start of your job search, 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.

Let’s take a look at Louis, for example. Louis used an Enhancv resume to get a job at HotJar.

When he applied for a Content Marketer position at Hotjar, Louis featured his side project on his resume. Having interviewed over 10 of the top marketers on his podcast, he knew this would catch the HotJar team’s attention.

Featuring his passion project was vital to get him an interview. He was as specific as possible, including his results. Louis believes this moved the needle for him.

Every Enhancv resume layout supports a specific passion project section that you can use to showcase projects you’ve worked on, but aren’t necessarily related to employment.

2. Be specific and show your impact.

This tip is for: Experienced applicants.

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but “be specific” and “show impact” is pretty vague. What exactly means to “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 ensures your resume will instantly stand out from the rest, particularly those which only list responsibilities.

In addition, instead of 10 bullets per job 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.

What does that mean in practice? Here’s Laszlo Block’s (Google’s SVP People Operations) explanation:

Start with an active verb, numerically measure what you accomplished, provide a baseline for comparison, and detail what you did to achieve your goal.

Example:

“Generated 2300 qualified leads, roughly 700 more than the average lead generation associate, through a combination of cold emails and LinkedIn messaging.”

In 2021, every company wants a candidate who can have a positive impact on their business. So show them what you can bring to the table. And keep in mind that this can be volunteer work as well.

3. Be confident.

This tip is for: Everyone.

Your resume is a document that represents not only your areas of expertise 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).

4. Don’t copy-paste the keywords.

This tip is for: Everyone.

Our friends from Fairygodboss (a career blog for women) shared their top resume advice for 2021:

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 to your resume.

While you don’t want to copy and paste all these words in arbitrarily, you do have to demonstrate – with your resume – that you’ve read the job description, have the relevant work experience and history, and have the required skills.

5. Let someone else review your resume.

This tip is for: Everyone

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.

Enhancv Pro tip: When you use Enhancv, be sure to turn the Content Analyzer on. It will spot any vague words, repetition, or grammar mistakes.

Looking for that human input?

We have a team of resume experts eager to review yours.

It costs just €35 bucks >>>

6. Give links to your social media profiles.

This tip is for: Everyone

Once recruiters receive a resume, many of them go ahead and check your social media accounts, 38% of them to be exact. Why not make it easier for hiring managers and share links to your best accounts?

If you share your LinkedIn profile, make sure you’ve updated your profile, so it’s in line with your resume. If you share your Instagram or Facebook, make sure all the pictures and posts will put you in a good light. Otherwise, you’re risking never hearing back from them.

7. Include other relevant links.

This tip is for: Everyone.

Biron from Career Sidekick shared his advice for resumes in 2021 with us:

Add a link! Most employers and recruiters read resumes digitally, so 2021 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:

  1. 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 bullet points for that role.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

8. Choose which experience to share wisely.

This tip is for: Mid-to very experienced applicants.

Jon from Jobscan (a place where you can find valuable resume tips and tricks) 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 fulfilment 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.

9.Use power words.

This tip is for: Everyone.

Keywords are the nouns–skills, background, experience, achievements—employers look for when filtering candidates.

Power words, on the other hand, are the verbs that emphasize your chosen keywords. Both play a role in helping you win a job.

Weak language like “responsible for” or “accomplished” does your achievements a disservice.

Go for more creative power words that not only emphasize what you did but also tell a story. Some great examples of power words:

  • Directed
  • Trained
  • Implemented
  • Increased
  • Designed
  • Overhauled
  • Created
  • Optimized
  • Launched

10. Ditch the questionable email address.

This tip is for: Everyone.

Stop using the same cutesy email you had in high school or college. Get a professional email instead with your first and last name as the username.

Better yet, add your job title in there too.

More tenured applicants should stop using old emails from older providers like Hotmail, Livewire, AOL, or their service provider.

Seriously, who uses a Verizon email address in 2021? It’s quite telling.

11. Get a resume writer.

This tip is for: Everyone.

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, resume pointers, and layouts that will make your application 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.

Get critiques from multiple resume writers first before choosing one. Most of them offer free critiques anyway, so this is a great way to test if you’ll like how they would approach your application before actually committing to one.

Enhancv PRO tip: If you don’t want to hire a professional resume writer, we have an amazing resume grader baked into our resume builder.

12.Don’t get too clever with your resume subheadings.

This tip is for: Everyone.

Yes, there’s such a thing as being too clever.

Regardless of your chosen resume format or layout, you should always keep your subheadings simple to understand.

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) will parse all the text from your resume, often stripping it of its design and fancy formatting.

But… and this is huge but, the ATS will use the subheadings listed to interpret the text underneath it.

Avoid catchy but ATS-confusing subheadings like:

  • About me
  • Qualifications
  • Accreditations
  • Professional background
  • Academic Achievements

13.Talk numbers.

This tip is for: Experienced applicants.

Use quantifiable figures to paint a clear picture of your achievements. While this is harder than the other resume tips here, especially if you don’t make it a habit to track your work, it certainly is the most impactful.

This applies not only to job-specific skills like sales, programming, or operations but also in terms of soft skills.

Below are several ways to add quantifiable figures to your resume:

  • Money or resources saved
  • Profit earned
  • Labor hours saved
  • Sales growth
  • Manpower growth

Time and dollar figures, of course, aren’t the only ways to add numbers to your resume. You can also talk numbers in terms of:

  • Range: Great way to use numbers if you can’t give an exact figure
  • Frequency: Show how often you did something to prove mastery
  • Size: Team size, number of app downloads, restaurant size, or basically anything that could show the scale of your success or responsibilities

14.Explain job gaps.

This tip is for: People with experience.

Maybe you were laid off; maybe you were sick, perhaps you had to take care of your ailing parents. Whatever it is, the important thing is how you present yourself.

Your resume is where you control the narrative, so it’s only natural that you control this part of your professional history, too. Don’t let recruiters judge you based on incomplete information.

Tell them what happened by including a short note on your resume.

There’s no need to dress it up. A one-liner in between job entries, or at the end of a short job in case of furloughs or company closure is fine. For instance, you could write:

  • Company closed
  • Furlough
  • Layoff due to downsizing
  • Maternity leave
  • Relocated to a new city

Sure, this isn’t like the many boost-up-your-credentials resume tips listed here. But if you have a job gap, it needs to be addressed.

If you are on furlough due to COVID-19 or have been laid-off due to this situation, then make a line item on your resume that says you were placed on furlough or the company closed. Because everyone has been affected by the pandemic, it is okay to mention it on your resume.

Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Certified Professional Resume Writer

Would you rather wait and find out after the recruiter doesn’t call you because of the unexplained job gap in your resume?

15. Make sure you properly write each job description in your experience section.

This tip is for: Experienced applicants.

For the most part, your experience section on your resume takes up most of your resume.

That’s prime real estate. Unfortunately, most applicants waste it by describing their day-to-day activities, while they can make it much more impactful.

The secret is to highlight achievements rather than duties. We already mentioned the importance of talking numbers, so if you skimmed the article so far, jump back to resume tip number 13.

Resume building tips: Formatting a resume to make sure it gets read.

While how you write your resume is important, you want the hiring managers actually to read your resume to the very end.

That’s why we’ve packed some resume best practices on formatting that will make sure your resume gets read.

16. Make every section count.

This tip is for: Everyone

Having around two pages at your service is not the easiest, especially if you have extensive professional experience. For this reason, make sure you only include relevant sections and add information that will increase the value of your resume.

You can also achieve this by leaving some of your experience out, especially anything which isn’t relevant to the job or company you’re applying for. (Like that waitressing job you did in college.)

17. Reverse chronological order.

This tip is for: Applicants with experience.

When you write your experience section, another rule of thumb is to make it reverse chronological. This means starting from the most recent position first.

Keep your dates consistent, e.g. if you decide to specify months, make sure you mention months everywhere. We have a pretty in-depth guide on reverse chronological order resumes too.

18. Keep it one to two pages long.

This tip is for: For mid-to very experienced applicants.

Generally, resume experts agree on the fact that resumes should be a page long. While we’re all fine and dandy with one-page resumes, we should also have to admit that two pages are pretty great too.

Make sure you keep your resume no longer than two pages. It doesn’t matter how much of an experience you have, truth be told, you can probably shorten it to two pages.

We’ve made sure to write a very in-depth guide on resume length that gives you all the information on the topic.

19. Create a separate section for notable achievements

This tip is for: Everyone.

Adding a section specifically for your achievements is another way to tailor your resume to a specific job.

Doing this allows you to minimize the editing work you have to. Just select two to three achievements most relevant for your desired job then put it in a separate section.

Use bolding, italics, and all caps to highlight other achievements, such as those related to soft skills for your job.

Resume design tips: How to design a resume that gets noticed.

How you write and format your resume may be the difference between getting called for an interview or not, but the design of your resume is what ultimately will get you remembered by the hiring manager.

One of the best resume writing pointers we could give you is to make sure that the design of your resume is just perfect. After all, you want to choose a font that makes your resume easy to read and complement it with a color scheme that gets noticed.

While we’ve built Enhancv to be a tool that helps forward-thinking people build a beautiful, memorable resume no matter how experienced they are in design, here’s our favorite tip to ensure you have a resume that stands out.

20.Use colors to stand out.

This tip is for: Everyone.

It’s 2021 and so the era of black and white resumes is over.

Here’s one of the resume tips the designers and creatives in our readers will like: use colors.

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 sheets of paper that’s already sitting on the desk. 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.

Enhancv Pro 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.

Check out Enhancv’s resume templates for different color combinations to choose from.

Research and application tips: How to make sure your resume gets you an interview.

And last but not least, you’ll have to be smart when you apply for a job.

Depending on where you live, you may be applying with 500 other people for the same job position. This can be quite daunting, that’s why you want to make sure your resume gets to the right person.

Here are our pointers to make sure your resume gets read–from networking to research and application.

21.Read the job description a few times

This tip is for: Everyone.

Did you know there are over 400 different Applicant Tracking Software systems that companies can use to weed out candidates?

Here’s what Jessica Holbrook-Hernandez, Certified Professional Resume Writer has to say about keywords and ATS:

Yes, 400! And that number grows every year due to software advancements.

This is one of the most important resume tips and advice we can’t repeat enough for 2021.

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.

Other keywords to look out for:

  • Certifications: read our job-specific guides and resume examples for relevant job certifications;
  • Tools or programs required for the job Education: Ph.D., master’s, or specific bachelor’s degree
  • Location: Companies often use city names or zip codes to narrow down candidates for local-specific jobs

 

22.Send your resume to the right person (and make sure they got it!)

This tip is for: Everyone.

Alrighty, let’s take a pause from resume tips on writing and design.

Let’s talk about your resume’s deliverability.

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 effective thing to do.

Send your resume to a relevant person instead of just blindly submitting it through a website or job portal.

Yes, many vacancies posted on job platforms don’t reveal the name of the recruiter or hiring manager. But that’s no excuse not to get personal.

If you’re like many of the candidates who tout “online research” as one of their skills, this should be an easy task for you.

Here’s how to prove it:

  1. Copy a couple of sentences from the job ad and paste it on Google. Chances are, the job ad is also posted on their website or LinkedIn. If it’s on LinkedIn, the job ad will show the name of the recruiter at the bottom.
  2. If the Google search doesn’t yield any results, look up the company’s website and visit their team’s about page. Find the company recruiter and the manager of the department you want to join, then look up their names on LinkedIn and other social media. For startups or small companies, find the CEO, and send your resume directly to them. These extra little steps can really help you stand out.

Enhancv Pro tip: To find a recruiter or CEO’s email, you can use some free tools such as Hunter or Voila Norbert. Also, you can check their social media profiles or send them a LinkedIn message.

23.Research your potential colleagues

This tip is for: Everyone.

It’s easier than ever to find your potential employer and their team members on social media. 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 try to mirror their language into your resume. When your potential employer reads it, they’ll feel like you already know each other.

Granted, this isn’t one of the resume hints you can easily pull off with 10 minutes of work.

But the extra prep work you do here will pay off in dividends once your resume catches their attention.

Plus, you can use your research to do well on the interview.

24. Follow-up

This tip is for: Everyone.

If you haven’t received a response within a few days, it’s probably because the hiring manager hasn’t seen your email, not that they ignored it.

That’s why you should go ahead and send them a friendly follow-up. You can find a couple of examples on our follow-up email guide. In short, send a follow-up after 4-5 business days, with a friendly tone.

Don’t send an angry message with а “Why haven’t you responded to my email??” subject line.

25.Give yourself enough time.

This tip is for: Everyone.

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.

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 2021. Once you have enough inspiration, go ahead and start writing.

26.Name your files properly.

This tip is for: Everyone.

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 your target job.

In practice, this means: Elon_Musk_Engineer_resume / Elon_Musk_Engineer_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.

Common mistakes to avoid when crafting your resume.

Some of the most common reasons applicants don’t get called for an interview for their dream job position are actually quite minuscule. They just leave a bad impression.

By far, the most common mistakes are typos. Can you believe you did not get a call for a job interview because you made a typo?

Typos alongside length and design are the most common resume mistakes. Luckily, the Enhancv resume builder takes care of all this while you focus on the more important things.

What should a good resume include?

A good resume should be packed with everything that’s needed to show your experience, passions, and know-how.

In other words, a good resume should clearly showcase your experience and know-how. This means that it’s not necessary to include every job you’ve ever had, just the ones that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.

What to include in your resume if you don’t have any experience?

But, how to craft a powerful resume if you don’t have the experience you may wonder. After all, with no experience, even the best resume tips won’t help you, right?

Fret not, because a resume is not only about experience. People gravitate towards showing how many years they’ve worked and where they’ve worked because that is what they know how to do best.

The real strength in a resume lies when you show the impact you’ve made. Whether it was a side-project, or at your first job that has nothing to do with the position you’re applying for, impact shows that you’re proactive and result-driven.

We’ve made an in-depth guide on how to craft a powerful resume if you don’t have much experience.

***

Wow, I’m super glad you made it all the way down here because that was a grind to write. Make sure to drop a comment if you have any questions, or if you think you’re ready to start writing, pick your Enhancv resume template.

Kal Dimitrov

Kal has 10 years of experience as a marketer and lecturer in youth leader organisations, with a focus on career and job skills enhancement. He has written and edited over 100 resume creation guides for different jobs. Kal is also a co-founder of a career accelerator hub that helps students and recent graduates excel at job interviews and get the job of their dreams.

One comment on “26+ Resume Tips And Advice For 2021 [With Expert Insights]
  1. Albertina on

    This is a long article but it is really worth reading. I wish I found it much earlier so that I could avoid so many mistakes. I like your advice to talk numbers and using power keywords. It helps to showcase the achievements of previous workplaces.

    Reply

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