The past year has been, to put it extremely lightly, complicated. And if you found yourself on the hunt for a job during this time, you know the typical search stress is only compounded by Zoom interviews, safety precautions or even gaps on your resume from COVID-19-related layoffs. 

But all is not lost. Below, Jen Mosser, the director of talent acquisition for Gallup, shares her tips to prepare you for the 2021 job hunt.

Take it away, Jen!


Customize your resume to meet the employer’s applicant tracking system requirements. 

If there’s one thing you do over anything else, read the job description and examine your resume in light of the desired job qualifications and requirements. The average applicant spends 76 seconds reading a job description, falls in love with the job title and/or company, but fails to reflect on the requirements of the position.

Too often, candidates have one version of their resume and don’t tailor it to include keywords or skills the employer lists in the specific job description. These keywords are flagged by artificial intelligence. If they’re in your resume, you advance. If they’re not, you have a higher likelihood of being overlooked. Targeting your resume to the position shows you understand what’s needed and that you want this job, not just a job.


Build on your strengths. 

What is the magic you bring to the table that makes you stand out from others? What’s your spark? What attracts people to you and your work? Does your resume effectively communicate your personal brand so the employer will know why you’re different? Quantify your accomplishments. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t just want to see a list of what you were responsible for, we want to see what you’ve accomplished. We hire performers, and nothing gets our attention faster. 

Gallup analytics reveal that people who use their strengths every day are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life, six times more likely to be engaged at work, 8% more productive and 15% less likely to quit their jobs. Find a way to help your strengths shine through your resume.


Perfect your Zoom presence. 

Is your background clean, clear and professional? Is your camera or laptop propped up at eye level so you’re looking directly at the interviewer? Do you know the company’s dress code? Is it casual, business casual or business attire? Show up pressed and polished, the same way you would if you were interviewing in person. Does your lighting in the room allow the interviewer to see your face? Test your setup in advance. Make meaningful connections and stay focused on your interviewer, just as you would if you were face to face and able to make eye contact. 


Showcase pandemic resilience. 

2021 brings new hope, opportunities and perspectives through continually evolving business landscapes. To show your resilience, update your experience to describe how you led your team or how you influenced change to drive business outcomes. Did you make an investment in your own personal development or enroll in continuing education courses? If your work paused, did you pick up volunteer opportunities, even if only over the phone or virtually, to support your teams or communities?  


Even in this virtual hiring environment, there are ways to help your resume stand out in a competitive landscape. Tailor it to the position you’re applying for, highlight why you’d be a unique addition and put your best foot forward.


Jen Mosser is the director of talent acquisition for Gallup.  She's passionate about improving the performance of her company through identifying and hiring potential star performers — people who bring unrivaled intelligence, energy and passion to Gallup and to its clients.


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