In case you missed last Monday’s headlines, the announcement by the National Bureau of Economic Research made it official: we’re in a recession. I doubt many folks were shocked by this grim news, as it only reinforces what most Americans already knew – times are tough and belts are tightening.Layoffs are an unfortunate by-product of economic recessions, but if you take steps now to “recession-proof” your resume, you won’t be caught unprepared if you find yourself downsized. Here’s how:
1. Emphasize ways you have boosted the bottom line for your employers.
Now more than ever, employers will be trying to preserve profits and pinch pennies. Use your resume to prove your talents in this area and you’re bound to leave a favorable impression. This might include contributions you have made (either independently or as a member of a team) to cost-cutting measures, revenue-generating efforts, customer acquisition/retention initiatives, or productivity/efficiency increases. Wherever possible, quantify these achievements with numbers for maximum impact and credibility. Here are a few examples using dollars, percentages, and before/after comparisons:
- Saved company $5K annually by transferring print newsletter to online format.
- Minimized costly rework on widget product line to increase profit margin by 15% (equivalent to $2.8M in annual revenue gains).
- Served on continuous improvement taskforce that cut store shrink in half (from 4% to 2%) to deliver annual bottom-line gains of $17K+.
2. Showcase examples of resourcefulness.
Employers value candidates with a proven history of innovative thinking the ability to do more with less, but these skills become even more sought after during tough economic times. A friend of mine who’s in the HR field calls this the “what if…” factor. She says that even when limits are placed on hiring, she’s always on the lookout for people who excel in asking “what if?” questions. As in, “What if we did it this way instead of that way?” Think about ways that you stepped outside the box to add value to customers without increasing costs to your employer. Or instances when you came up with a unique solution or creative idea that improved processes or increased efficiency. Or examples of how you have adopted a “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” philosophy in performing your duties. Showcase a few of your best “resourceful hero” stories on your resume and you will definitely be noticed!
3. Highlight versatility, flexibility, and adaptability to change.
Have you assumed expanded responsibilities beyond the scope of your initial job duties? Are you handling tasks that previously were performed by two or more employees? Have you led or participated in successful turnaround or change-management initiatives? Individuals who can demonstrate their abilities to help employers survive — and even thrive — during tough times are sure to be a hot commodity now and in the months ahead. Include a few key details of your strengths in these areas in your opening profile summary at the top of your resume, and/or add a few bulleted accomplishments relating to change-agent leadership and adaptability in the “Experience” section of your resume.
4. Start a “kudos” file.
If you don’t already keep copies of your performance reviews and letters of appreciation, client thank-yous, or congratulatory emails you receive, start now. This provides excellent fodder for your resume. You can include quoted excerpts right on your resume, either in a separate “Endorsements” section or sprinkled throughout the resume. To see a few examples of how to incorporate third-party testimonials into your resume, check out the network administrator (view the left margin) and theatre Instructor (view the right margin) resume samples on our website.
5. Keep your resume and online profile updated.
If you’re worried about your job security due to the uncertainty of the current economy, your best strategy is to keep your resume updated. The same goes for online profiles you may have on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or FolioClick. Indeed.com’s blog included some excellent advice on this topic in a recent post, reminding us that “potential employers may look at any online profile of yours, so keep them up-to-date and free of content that would embarrass you.”
Senior Resume Writer, ResumePower.com