The world has changed in 2020. What it means to ‘go to work’ has been drastically altered for a large portion of the workforce. In fact, some 22 million jobs were lost at the peak of US unemployment during the spring. And today, we’ve only gained back north of 42% of those jobs. Throw into the mix that 42% of the entire US workforce is now working from home, and what we see is a dramatically different employment landscape than the one we saw coming into the year.
“One of the common things I have heard lately from executive friends is that over the last year, they have lost some of the energy that comes with being in the office. They went from spending 14 hours at home to spending almost all of their time at home and it wears on you,” says James Philip, founder of Heavy Hitter Holdings – a portfolio of companies spanning executive search, human capital consulting, career services, and employer branding. “Getting dressed up, being in an office setting, feeling the energy and thriving on those live conversations were of great value. Work from home has made work very transactional, taking away from the vibes and energy that many high-level executives need to feed on.”
So, what does that mean for executive-level job seekers? How do these new work from home dynamics mix with traditional aspects of the job search, such as interviewing? The short answer: an increased reliance on your resume and storytelling abilities. The reality is, at the executive level, most candidates will have the technical abilities to do the job. What separates those individuals who land the best jobs and those who don’t? The ability to weave a great narrative through a career – and to display this well on a resume.
The Importance of a First Impression
Job seekers often misunderstand the core function of the resume and assume it should document every single thing a person has done in their career up to that point. This is wrong. Resumes, when executed well, highlight the aspects of your career that help a potential employer make a decision about whether you can do the job that you are applying for. At the executive-level, hiring managers are looking for a natural progression throughout your career – did you make logical, strategic steps as you climbed the ladder?
At the end of the day, the purpose of your resume is to land you an interview. The interview is where you land the job.
Therefore, applying for a job as an executive at a technical engineering firm? The fact that you worked customer service in college is not helpful on the resume. Instead, the focus should be on everything engineering-related you’ve done on your resume. And then build on the executive-level, strategic thinking skills you’ve displayed to push the organization forward.
Why is this important? Because a defined and orderly presentation of your relevant skillset on your resume shows self-awareness and professionalism. Two things that make for a great first impression which, arguably, is the most important reason for a resume existing in the first place.
In today’s work from home environment, more emphasis is being placed on the first impression your resume projects. This is because hiring managers have to rely more on non-interpersonal cues to make as informed a decision as they can make. People have less time and more tasks on their plates, so your resume has to do all of your bidding right from the start.
On average, hiring managers were taking 10 seconds to look at a resume, pre-pandemic. In this new work environment, it’s safe to assume that hiring managers are spending even less time looking at resumes. Your resume is your first impression. Make sure it stands out.
No In-Person Interviews
As society shifts to more and more virtual calls over Zoom, Teams, or any of a host of other platforms, we are all learning to adapt to new communication methods and styles. Given enough time, we’ll all adjust. But the reality is that no matter how hard we try, a video call just isn’t the same as in-person interaction.
What does this mean for today’s executive-level job seeker? More emphasis on your resume, and the first impression it gives. Between your resume’s first impression and how well-written and detailed it is, hiring managers are going to lean more heavily on the insight they can glean from your resume than ever before.
“An interesting trend we’re seeing in hiring because of work-from-home is an increased number of interviews happening with more diverse team members throughout an organization,” says Joseph Puglise, Senior Director of Executive Search and Recruiting at global executive search firm JMJ Phillip Group. “Because you’re not getting the office tour and culture, we’re seeing companies make a bigger effort around getting more people as part of the interview process.”
This places increased emphasis on the only document that all these individuals will see prior to meeting the job candidate via video call – the resume.
Kane Carpenter is the Director of Marketing for Employment BOOST. In this role, Kane is responsible for driving market awareness across the entire JMJ Phillip Holdings portfolio of companies. Kane is currently pursuing an MBA degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University, and is Google Advertising Certified.