How to Make Your Resume Stand Out When Returning to the Workforce

by | Jan 31, 2022

There were over 10.6 million jobs available in the United States as of November 2021. However, only 6.7 million people were hired for these positions, leaving plenty of available openings. 


If you’ve been unemployed for a prolonged period, there are things you can do to highlight your skills and experiences. Here’s how to stand out when employers look at your resume.  




1. Prepare a Chronological Resume


A chronological resume lists your skills, experience, and accomplishments in reverse chronological order. You want to put your most recent job titles first and list your older experiences below them. This way, potential employers can quickly see whether you fit into their company culture based on your work history. 


Remember that your resume should also contain your contact information, like your phone number, email address, and professional social media accounts like LinkedIn, at the top. This lets recruiters know where they can reach you if they want to learn more about you.




2. Write a Summary Statement That Highlights Your Strengths



Your summary statement must concisely describe your relevant skills and experiences. If you are changing careers, the summary can bring together different elements of your past work by highlighting transferable skills. 


Below your summary, write bullet points covering your core competencies, such as project management and customer service. A summary helps you stand out from the competition. It also sets you up for success in the other parts of your job search when you network and prepare for your interview. 





3. Be Specific About Your Skills


List your hard skills when writing your resume skills section. These skills can include anything measurable you learned in your previous full-time jobs. Focus on the job description’s list of skills and match your skills to those mentioned in the posting. 


If you have previous volunteer experiences, you can list your skills, such as organizing food donations for a local pantry. Any relevant skills from your part-time jobs while your children were at school are helpful in your resume. For instance, you can show how much a project in your part-time job improved the company’s performance by a certain percentage or dollar amount. 




4. Mention Any Certifications You Have


During your time off from work, you may have taken an online course on using Canva or learned basic Microsoft Excel skills. If you have received certifications to keep your skills current, you can list them under your resume’s certification or qualification section. 


Any completed projects and measurable skills you learned as part of your certification can help hiring managers see you’re a lifelong learner. If relevant, you can include links to your online projects from these courses. 





5. Supplement Your Resume With a Compelling Cover Letter


Use your cover letter to address any gaps in your employment history on your resume. Although some companies may prefer people with more recent work histories, your cover letter can demonstrate your ability to bring something new to their culture. 


Emphasize how you stayed engaged in professional development activities during your employment gap. You can make your cover letter more compelling by adding how your transferable skills are an asset in your next role. 


Show your excitement to re-enter the workforce and express a desire to commit to the company long-term. Hiring managers are less likely to be concerned about time off work if they know it was a one-time situation that isn’t going to recur in a year. 




6. Don’t Forget to Proofread


Proofread each sentence of your resume and cover letter carefully, checking for grammatical errors and consistency. You can read them aloud to yourself to listen for any awkward phrasing or misspellings. Ask a friend who is not in your industry to review them and give feedback so you can edit them further.


Don’t let a minor grammatical error jeopardize your return to work. Hiring managers can see your professionalism and communication skills from how well you prepare your resume and cover letter. Use this as your first opportunity to make a positive and lasting impression. 




Jumpstart Your Job Search With a Tailored Resume


It’s important to customize your resume to each job posting so that you stand out from other applicants. Keep in mind your resume and cover letter are not just about addressing your employment gap but repositioning yourself to address the company’s concerns. 


To help you get ready to work again, has more career advice on job interviews and different career paths for your career journey. You can use our job search tools and filters to discover companies in your area or field of experience with available positions.