By Stevie Nicks
For many people, finding stable and rewarding employment was hard enough before a global pandemic arrived to devastate industries and leave companies so hampered that all they could do was fire or furlough employees and hope to outlast the disaster. In the midst of 2020, with the COVID-19 outbreak at its most potent (so far, at least), job prospects seemed desperately weak. Even if you were eager to work, most companies had no opportunities, either because they’d lost clients or because they’d relied entirely on traditional offices they could no longer reach.
Today, things are somewhat better: now that things are opening up in many countries, work opportunities are rising, with companies seeking to invest in growth. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to find work in the coming months and years. Remote working has become standard, meaning that you can be up against candidates from throughout the world — plus there are still so many talented professionals still out of work and waiting to catch some breaks.
To improve your chances, you need to work on every aspect of your candidacy, and that starts with your CV. If it’s below par, you won’t even be considered for interviews, so it won’t matter how well you come across or how competent you are. In this post, we’re going to look at what you can add to your CV to make it stand out in the post-pandemic marketplace:
A recurring question in years to come will query what candidates were doing during the pandemic. While there’s nothing wrong with having taken the time to relax somewhat during such dire circumstances, prospective employers are most interested in people who challenge themselves — and lockdowns couldn’t prevent people from using online course platforms.
Responsible for much of the growth of the now-huge e-learning and digital education market, these platforms allow experts of all kinds to share and monetize their knowledge, and it’s great for learners because they can easily access course materials catering to all topics and skill levels. So if you can set aside some time now to sharpen your skills, being able to mention that process on your CV will earn you some major points.
Another way to demonstrate your quality as a candidate is to show your work ethic from a different angle: that of volunteering. Building on the previous note about relaxing, stimulus money has prompted many people to avoid work in recent times — so what about those who’ve done the opposite and sought it out, taking volunteer work if they couldn’t get paid work? Rejecting the chance to be lazy is commendable and shows vital self-control.
That kind of commitment to productivity is obviously something that will tempt potential employers. You could help with deliveries to food banks, work to clean up your community however possible, or offer your services for free online through gig-based marketplaces. Having done something suitable, you can talk on your CV about how those experiences furthered your development as a person and a professional.
Moving from the old way of working to the new remote standard wasn’t easy. Companies and professionals alike had to change significantly very quickly, and some managed the transition far better than others. If you can offer evidence on your CV that you’re fundamentally flexible and excellent at adapting to new systems and ways of doing things, you’ll raise your value.
You could talk about how swiftly you got back up to regular productivity following the first lockdown, for example, or discuss how you mastered a new software tool you needed to use. You can even talk about how you expect your industry to change in the near future, and how you’ll be completely ready to face and overcome fresh challenges. This will help you come across as an excellent long-term investment.
No, I’m not talking about using a comically oversized font or underlining everything on your CV. When you’re sticking to a classic one-or-two-page CV that you know will be run through an applicant tracking system that will try (and probably fail) to parse the content, you need to jump through all the hoops put in front of you. But as companies get better at operating online, they’re becoming more willing to accept CVs in different file formats. That’s an opportunity.
In the event that you have the chance to apply for a role with a company that will accept a CV in the format of your choice, for instance, you could stand out by applying with a digital CV, or perhaps even a video CV in which you run through your achievements and skills while demonstrating how natural you are on camera. If you can put together several versions of your CV, you can then choose the most relevant format when you send an application.
The quality of your CV is unlikely to ever secure you a position, but the better you can make it, the more interview opportunities you’ll receive. Aim to fit these four things into your CV (or as many of them as possible): you’ll be more likely to stand out if you can.
About the Author
Stevie Nicks is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine — a website that covers the topics you care about. You’ll find articles about business, lifestyle, travel, fashion, trends, and so much more, each of which is written in our unique style.