Finding a Job, Then and Now: #1 – The Resume

By The Intersect Group

How much has the job search changed in your lifetime? A ton!

Those in their early 60s certainly can attest to that: they were just a few years away from having to sit by the phone waiting for a call from an employer to ask them to come in for an interview when they started looking for jobs. (Answering machines didn’t come into wide use until the late 1970s/early ’80s.)

Yet even if you’re in your 20s, you’ve seen BIG changes in the last few years, if not months. After all, when was the last time you wore professional bottoms for a (virtual) job interview?

Introducing our latest series: Finding a Job – Then and Now

So with the number of changes in the job search process in just the last few months, we thought we’d take a look at how different aspects of it have changed over the years.

First up: the resume

It wasn’t too long ago that most folks looking for the type of work that required this document typed it up on a typewriter: personal home computers – and printers – really didn’t become ubiquitous in people’s homes until around the early 1980s (1990s in many communities).

And even then, they were bulky and extremely expensive: the equivalent of about $1,300 on a basic desktop unit with a black screen and green text. No graphics or photos: the only “font” available was Courier, and the only way to print was with a dot-matrix printer.

Before that, resumes were created on typewriters.

If typewritten, you either typed up several copies (before copy machines became plentiful, about the 1970s), or you went to your local library – or used your employer’s copy machine after hours – to print out several copies. Gasp! The nerve!

And you pretty much were required to – because employers expected it – make your copies on heavy-weight resume stationary.

(If you didn’t have a typewriter available, you went to a resume writing company.  The resume writers would interview you, then type up your resume and provide you with several copies…on the aforementioned resume stationary.)

And then, you mailed your resume/application to the employer.

And waited for a phone call to arrange a job interview.

If you never received a phone call, a few weeks later you more than likely received a nice “Thank you for your interest in our company; we’ve chosen another applicant” letter from the business (also on very nice stationary).

Resumes could be several pages long

This partially was due to it being typewritten, but it also was because the “right way” to write a resume was thus:

  • You included EVERY job you ever had, no matter how long you worked there, no matter what you did there.
  • You listed your age, height, and even weight. (This started going out of “style” by the 1990s or so.)
  • You also were encouraged to include a photograph, if possible, as well as your marital status, how many children you had, and your religion. (These started being discouraged in the ’90s due to discrimination risks.)
  • Beginning in the later 1980s, job seekers were encouraged to start using resumes as a “sales” tool rather than as a list of their past employers and job duties. This type of resume took off beginning in the 1990s.
  • While many job candidates started their resumes with a “job objective,” followed by a short paragraph describing their skills and experience, most employers/career coaches now counsel omitting objectives.

Today, it’s all about the employer

Many current “how-to-write-a-resume” instructions counsel that the document should showcase how an applicant’s background, skills, and experience help a company reach its goals and overcome its challenges. And they’re right!

What’s more, employers’ recruiting tech tools (such as applicant tracking systems) help employers look for keywords that they’ve determined the “right” candidates possess. This means resumes that don’t contain these keywords won’t make the first cut: many resumes never receive even a glance from a human.

What this means for your job search

You should study a job posting carefully and create a different resume for each position to which you apply, sprinkling it with applicable keywords.

Unsure what keywords to use? Many of them are in the job post. In other words, tailor your resume to the job description.

Consider creating it with the company itself in mind, too.  Use the words in the job description exactly as they appear in it.

You want the ATS to see it and add you to the list of candidate resumes to be reviewed by the recruiters. You can send a nicer – more grammatical – resume to the recruiter/hiring manager later or bring it with you to the interview.

You also may want to stay away from abbreviations (unless they’re commonplace in the industry).

If you’re looking for work in the IT or finance/accounting sectors, make sure you send your 2021 (better yet, 2022)-ready resume to us here at The Intersect Group: our clients have new opportunities every day.