LinkedIn, Storytelling, and Concise Resumes and Cover Letters Feature Prominently in Annual Career Brainstorming Report – Part 1

Concise resumes and cover letters are currently the trend, even as job-seekers add new bells and whistles to their career-markeing documents – such as storytelling and infographics. Those were among the findings of the 2014 Global Career Brainstorming Day by the Career Thought Leaders Consortium. From the group’s newly published white paper, here are some highlights about current trends:

  • Resume writing is storytelling. Powerful resumes “connect the dots” for readers and may include testimonials or other unique Brain-Day-White-Paper-2014_pdf__page_2_of_41_information that supports the job seeker’s personal brand. On LinkedIn, a storytelling style also is used to create an engaging profile. We at Quint Careers have long favored storied career-marketing materials; you can see lots of content on storytelling in the job search here.
  • In the age of Twitter, texting, and short attention spans, resume content continues to tighten. While job-seekers should not feel irrevocably bound to rules such as the “one-page” mandate, brevity is best these days, with short and snappy content constructed with search-engine optimization (SEO) in mind through the smart and strategic use of keywords.
  • Infographics are being used more frequently on resumes, leadership bios, one-page accomplishment statements, and mobile documents. Lots of new tools are available for creating infographics; see a list here. Hyperlinks, graphs, charts, and feature sections (i.e., project highlights) are also being used, adding visual content to help documents stand out. Be aware, however, that infographics cannot be read by resume-reading software (a.k.a., Applicant Tracking Systems) so should be submitted electronically only when supplemented with ATS-friendly documents (see next item).
  • Effective use of keywords remains essential to convince both human readers and Applicant Tracking Systems that the job-seeker is the right fit for the position. Keywords must also be customized to very specific content of job announcements. See our Applicant Tracking System section for more about keywords.
  • The Brainstorming Day experts advocate the value of a differentiated qualifications profile or summary at the top of the resume rather than an objective, which can appear dated. Read more on this subject.
  • Primarily spurred by the fear of identity theft, the trend continues toward omitting addresses from resumes. Some employers want to see address because they prefer to hire locally; thus, career professionals are frequently omitting mailing addresses in electronic submissions but providing them for paper, in-person presentations, such as interviews.
  • Cover letters are most frequently emailed. They are creative, but brief (about half a page or 150–200 words), allowing recruiters to read them on mobile devices. The cover letter’s email subject line should be used to capture the reader’s interest and encourage him or her to open and read the message. Learn more about cover letters here.
  • Snail mail” has not disappeared. Because so few jobseekers send resumes/cover letters via the postal service, a candidate can really stand out. It is especially effective with hiring managers over 40.
  • Blue-collar workers are starting to recognize the need for strong career marketing materials. They are seeking help from career professionals in greater numbers than in years past.
  • Having a LinkedIn profile is broadly accepted as networking tool because employers are using recruiters less and turning to LinkedIn to source and vet candidates (and some even filter candidates based on the number of connections they have on LinkedIn), but many job-seekers need assistance in leveraging LinkedIn, whether for knowledge exchange, networking, or job search.. Candidates report securing interviews strictly from their LinkedIn profiles. Career professionals must understand how recruiters use LinkedIn. They are unfamiliar with the robust features of the tool. Job-seekers are hiring career professionals to develop resumes and LinkedIn profiles concurrently, as well as to guide them in using the job-search and networking features of LinkedIn. Career gurus also offer fee-based assistance for incorporating content (videos, presentations, certifications, images) as well as writing strong profiles. See some of the professionals who tackle LinkedIn Profiles on our sister site, Find a Career Expert.
  • LinkedIn premium service appears to be of limited value to most except to human resource professionals and in certain business applications (recruiters).
  • Thank-you letters remain a powerful tool for job-seekers, but relatively few are using them. The overall consensus is that an emailed thank you is best because of its timeliness before decision-making occurs. Some career advisors favor hand-written thank-you notes. See more about thank-you and followup letters here.

Final Thoughts

Watch for Part 2 in which we learn what the career brainstormers predict for the future of career-marketing communications. In the meantime, you can download the full report here.

Infographic resources:

Authored by Dr. Katharine Hansen


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