How to update your resume when seeking new employment due to COVID-19

updating resume after covid

A recently released study from SilkRoad Technology revealed that two out of five office workers plan to resign and take a new job as soon as they can because of their company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These office workers aren’t alone; in fact, I’ve had conversations with many people, from a variety of industries, who are updating their resumes in anticipation of finding a new job in 2021. That made me wonder what these job seekers can add to their resumes to highlight the skills they’ve gained during the pandemic.

According to Rachel Raymond, executive resume writer and certified executive resume master at RVP Career Services, she has been fielding the same question frequently these days.

“How clients have responded and worked through the pandemic has become a talking point in my intake calls,” Raymond reports. “It’s an important way to show resilience, fortitude, and creativity within their resumes.”

And when it comes to showcasing skills, bulleted copy — followed by specific examples — is a good way to proceed, industry experts say.

“Now more than ever, express how you’ve delivered results by outlining projects and outcomes rather than roles and responsibilities. Employers are looking for people who can work remotely and independently without the worry,” says David Ciccarelli, founder and chief executive officer of Voices.com.

“The way to show this is by listing out in bullet form the project objective and results achieved such as ROI 300% or increased sales pipeline by 50% YoY. Big and verifiable numbers always impress employers who themselves are seeking growth.”

Maria Reitan, founder and head coach at Jump Team Coaching and a self-described “big believer in providing examples,” suggests adding information that shows how you managed to thrive despite of (or maybe even because of) the pandemic’s impact in the summary section of your resume.

“For example, if you still met or exceeded your goals, mention that you transitioned to full-time virtual work, which you’ve sustained for X number of months, and exceeded your annual or quarterly goals,” Reitan says.

Like Ciccarelli, she believes the more specific the better. “I’m a huge believer in providing numbers, so if you exceeded your goals, add the percentage increase over your goal: ‘I exceeded my goals by X percent,’” she adds. “With the pandemic likely lingering for another six to nine months, it will be important to show that you remain a high performer despite the extreme conditions under which you’ve had to work.”

When it comes to highlighting newly honed skills with online platforms — something that has been essential to survival during the pandemic — Julie Titterington, chief culture officer at MerchantMaverick.com, says the best approach is to proceed with caution.

“My advice is always to avoid padding your resume with meaningless information, so eliminate the temptation to describe a newfound competence or ‘expertise’ in apps like Zoom or Slack. Every worker in America is now proficient in multiple forms of remote communication; broadcasting that competence in the summary or skills section of your resume is unnecessary and may even be harmful to your image,” Titterington says.

“Hiring managers can smell BS a mile away. That said, if you have been instrumental in the rollout/training of remote work techniques in your current position, that is something to mention.”

Sarah Eisenhardt, freelance business plan and resume writer and owner of Hardt Projects, offers what she calls “some eye-catching blurbs” related to skills acquired in the virtual realm to consider adding to your resume when searching for a new job in 2021:

  • Implemented new communication standards within my team to maintain (productivity/expectations) in a fully virtual environment
  • (Led/Supported) the reconfiguration of the department’s workflow to a virtual platform
  • (Led/Supported) updates to the Business Continuity Plan

For anyone seeking an executive position, Raymond (who focuses on executive search) suggests answering these questions throughout you career marketing documents:

  • How did you lead through uncertain times?
  • How were you able to save money and/or stem the bleeding?
  • What actions did you put in place for people working from home?
  • If you were essential, what protocols did you put in place for working safely in the office?
  • Where was the status of your business before the pandemic? “Many of my executive clients were having a great Q1 2020. There’s nothing wrong with saying you were on track to meet goals prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Raymond says. “The world changed in Q2 but that doesn’t mean you have to neglect the success you were having prior to that.”

Whatever format you decide to use, Reitan says the key point to consider is this: “It’s about showing job seekers’ leadership despite uncertainty: communicating their ability to change and handle crises, and as a leader, how they protect and care for their employees now and in the future.”