Tips From a Recruiter: Standing Out to Hiring Managers During COVID-19

Updated December 12, 2022

If your job was impacted by COVID-19, you may be searching for job opportunities available now. While much of the job search is out of your control during such a confusing and stressful time, there are some steps you can take to set yourself up for a successful job search. One of the most important things you can do is to update and tailor your resume.

Many employers receive several hundred applications for job openings and may use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to weed out irrelevant or mismatched resumes at first. Then, employers must manually review those resumes the ATS has deemed acceptable, and may only have a few seconds to review your resume and assess your fitness for the job. As such, it's important that you create and submit a resume that is highly relevant to the job and easy to read. In this article, we offer some tips to create a resume that will help you stand out to hiring managers during this time.

Related: How to Use Indeed to Job Search During COVID-19

How to write a resume that stands out

1. Actually read the job descriptions

The very first thing you should do before applying to an open role is to read and understand the job description—then read it again. Submitting your resume to an open role without fully understanding the scope of what the organization is looking for may put the quality of your first impression at risk. You might be applying for a role with a job title comparable to your current or past roles, but the job description will reveal how truly aligned your skills and experience are to the employer’s ideal candidate.

Some job descriptions may also contain salary or compensation information that should align with your expectations before you apply. The same principle applies when you’re submitting a resume to multiple openings at a single company—you should apply only to similar positions that closely align with your experience, background and interests.

Read more: How to Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

2. Include keywords from the job description

Though it is important to take care when choosing which roles to apply to, you should apply to as many roles as you are qualified for (and remember that being over-qualified usually means not qualified). As a recruiter, if you are the most qualified applicant for my opening, I want to see your resume first and as soon as possible. This is where you can do the most to help your resume stand out.

If the word usage in your resume does not match the requirements section of the job description, consider making a few edits to include those keywords throughout your resume. Most recruiters make use of some type of ATS that helps them sort through resumes submitted for each role. While each ATS has its own features, the main search function when reviewing resumes is the keyword search.

For example, a recruiter might search using keywords directly from the job description, bringing resumes containing those keywords to the top of the pile. While you might be the most qualified candidate, if your resume doesn’t contain keywords in the job description, your resume may not be surfaced to the hiring manager. Review the job description and include any hard skills, soft skills, qualifications and credentials (such as degrees or certifications) in your resume that align with your background.

You can weave keywords into your resume summary, skills section, education section and professional experience.

Read more: How to Write an ATS-Friendly Resume

3. Make your qualifications easy to find

Nobody knows more about your personal and professional accomplishments than you, and because your resume is a representation of those accomplishments, it can be difficult to decide which to highlight and where. If certain job industries, companies or job descriptions ask you to format your resume in a specific way, be sure to follow that direction. Outside of those requirements, the way to format a great resume is by adding information with a purpose, relevant to the role you are applying for.

For example, you might feel the need to add a summary or overview at or near the top of your resume. If the summary or overview adds important information about your skill set and how it aligns with the role, then you are including it purposefully. If the statement is something general such as, “I am seeking a challenging new opportunity to grow within and my skills from my career to a strong team,” you might consider leaving that out and prioritizing your skills and experience sections.

While your resume might tell the story of an outstanding professional who has made a positive impact in each of their roles, most hiring managers and recruiters are tasked with reviewing hundreds of resumes a week and don't always have time to read a whole story. So, be sure to prioritize your most relevant skills and qualifications by placing them near the top of your resume and place the less crucial (but still relevant) information near the bottom of your resume. You also have the opportunity to expand on your qualifications in your cover letter or, ideally, your first interview.

When you upload your resume to Indeed, you can easily apply for jobs. When set to "searchable," employers are also able to find your profile and reach out with relevant opportunities. You can now also add #readytowork to your Indeed Resume summary to indicate to employers your immediate availability. Employers can filter by this tag to find you.

Read more: How to Write a Resume During COVID-19

What you can do to find a job right now

For some, waiting until this time of uncertainty comes to and might not be an option. Specific advice on how to seek out new opportunities in this climate will vary from industry to industry, so it is best to lean on your networks and utilize free tools and resources to find openings. Here are some additional steps you can take to get a job:

  • Locate unemployment and job resources near you.

  • Research which companies are hiring in response to the pandemic.

  • Clearly define what you’re looking for in a new opportunity and research organizations that align with your needs and values.

  • Take this opportunity to build a visual portfolio of your work if relevant to your industry.

  • Pursue alternative work streams by searching for remote opportunities.

  • Build your skills by finding free online courses, workshops or certifications.

Recruiters and hiring managers who need your skills are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to speak to you. Preparing yourself for those conversations by making your resume easy for them to find may help make your job search a bit easier (and faster) during this time.

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