If you need to update or create your resume and don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to provide you with a seven step process to help you write a resume for an online job.
There are some differences between a resume for an online job and a traditional job. They’re minor, but critical if you want to land a remote job.
I’ll present best practices and examples of how to optimize your resume. Then I’ll give you effective exercises and resources to create or revise your resume.
If you’re looking for more resources about obtaining an online job, check out this free email series Remote Work Roundup – 7 Remote Work Paths.
Getting an online job requires a mindset shift
You might believe there’s a lot of competition in the job market. However, as of this writing, the national unemployment rate is 3.7%—the lowest in almost fifty years—whew, there’s less competition than you think!
There are more jobs than there are people to fill them. It’s a real challenge employers are facing right now. Companies have a hard time recruiting the perfect candidate.
Additionally, according to this Forbes article on remote work trends in 2019, working remotely and online jobs will continue increasing as employers look for ways to retain their talent.
Lastly, even though hiring managers look for what’s called a purple unicorn—the perfect person to fill a role—they know that no such person exists. Therefore, if you come with enough skills, are eager to learn, and are coachable, you can establish yourself as a top candidate.
So drop that inner critic of yours and get started on that resume. I will show you how in the next few sections.
Step 1. Complete a task and skills assessment
Are you staring at a blank piece of paper thinking, “I have no idea what to say?” I see this all the time with students in my Remote Work 101: Work, Live, and Travel where You Want course.
You can start by brainstorming all of the tasks that you currently do, or once did in a job. Then list your skills and knowledge related to those tasks.
Once you’ve identified your work tasks and skills and knowldege, simply link related tasks and skills to each other. Here’s an example of my tasks and skills:
After linking tasks and skills, you’ll be able to form sentences, such as these:
- Write original blog post content using SEO best practices.
- Create training programs following adult learning theory.
- Teach workshops that result in a high degree of learning transfer.
Later, you’ll use this list to create the Employment History section of your resume. This kind of activity is a great place to start, especially if you need more practice describing what you do.
Step #2: Create a great summary statement
A summary statement is the intro paragraph at the top of your resume. Some people call it an objective but that’s not specific enough. For example, “Looking to obtain a position as a remote customer service agent” doesn’t describe who you are or what makes you a great candidate.
Instead, you need a summary statement that quickly conveys your experience. Here’s an example from Joe Smith, a fictional person.
Here’s a helpful tip as you update your resume:
Create a new summary statement for each job type that you apply for.
What?! That’s a lot of summary statements, right? Yes and no. Having a few sets you up for resume options, and you only have to write these statements once.
Here are examples of summary statements that I’ve used on my resumes for different, but similar jobs:
- For a corporate trainer job – Corporate training specialist with over twenty years of experience in all aspects of the training development lifecycle, including instructional design and training delivery.
- For an instructional design job – Senior Instructional designer responsible for the review and approval process for enterprise-wide sales training programs.
- For a project manager job – Project manager overseeing cross-site training and development teams, including project implementations and employee coaching and development.
These positions require similar skill sets. The bulk of my resume remains the same; I just change the summary and maybe a few statements to align with the job title.
I’ll get more into keywords and job alignment in Step #4.
Step #3: Complete the first draft of your resume
Now that you’ve completed a skills assessment and summary statement, it’s time to complete the first draft of your resume. This includes choosing a format and creating categories like Skill Sets, Employment History, Education, and Other Related Experience.
Don’t get caught up on your format. There are some great websites offering fillable resume formats that make it easy for you (I list one later). In my Remote Work 101 course, I offer a set of fill-in-the-blank resume templates, specifically built for getting an online job.
Don’t get fancy with your format, either. Keep it simple, clean, and easy to read—no bright colors, logos or creative fonts. I’ll dig deeper on format later, but for now, choose something really simple.
Follow these steps to complete your first draft:
- Add your contact information at the top of your resume. If you don’t want to include an address, use your LinkedIn profile, or website, etc. (like Joe Smith above).
- Add a draft of your summary statement.
- Add placeholder sections on your resume like Skills, Employment History, Education, Certifications and Awards, or even Non-Profit/Volunteer Work (don’t fill in information yet).
- In the Employment History section, list your jobs in chronological order starting with your most recent position. If you have a gap in employment, add anything you’ve done during that time that shows your skill sets.
- Now, add the bullet point sentences you created in Step #2 for each job you’ve had.
Remember, this is just a draft. The idea is to start a framework, not finish the whole dang thing and make it look amazing. Trust me, doing it this way will help move you past mental blocks. Keep it messy until Step #7.
Also, if you’re thinking that none of this seems specific to a resume for an online job—good! You need a solid foundation for your resume regardless of the job you’re seeking.
But now we’re going to cover additional tips for your online job search.
Step #4: Beat the bots
While there are plenty of online and remote jobs, and less competition, you still have to “Beat The Bots” for your resume to be seen, especially when seeking an online job.
These days, there are often robots—called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)—reviewing your resume.
They look at your resume for things like keywords and information that matches the job description. What this means to you is that you have to optimize your resume, a.k.a. beat the bots.
In the second draft of your resume, you are going to focus on beating the bots. Here’s how:
One way to beat the bots is to use strategic keywords. Using keywords in a resume is like using keywords on a website. This is called search engine optimization, or SEO, and it’s how a search engine, like Google, finds you. The bots scanning resumes are similar. They are searching for keywords and phrases that let them know your resume is a match.
For example, if you’re searching for a project manager job and the job description lists tasks like “manages multiple timelines,” and “works well under pressure,” then your resume should have examples of you doing those or related tasks.
Now that we’ve identified the importance of using keywords, I’ll show you descriptions of my last three jobs (before quitting my job and running my own business!), and how using keywords can help you in your search for related job positions.
Let’s pretend that I’m seeking a training project manager job. Even though I don’t have that title in any of these last jobs, my history demonstrates my ability to do the job—also called transferable skills. Using keywords and phrases (highlighted in blue below) communicates that I can do the role of a training project manager.
You shouldn’t keyword “stuff” which is using the exact phrases from the job description. That will likely get your resume rejected. Instead, use words and phrases to describe how your experience closely matches the experience required for the job.
Never claim experience you don’t have, but do include any and all experience that aligns with the job. You’ll probably find that more of your experience aligns with a job than you realize.
One more thing about keywords, be sure to include any online or remote experience you have. You want HR and the hiring manager to feel confident that you can work independently, and from a remote location. This can be accomplished by using phrases like:
- Worked remotely in xyz job.
- Managed dispersed teams.
- Had a flexible work from home schedule.
- Worked on a location-independent team.
If you’ve never had a remote job, then try to think of the times when you did work remotely. When were you allowed to work from home? Did you take Friday off to see the doctor and work from a coffee shop? The more examples you can think of, the better you can represent your remote experience.
Use a clean and simple format
Keep your format simple and clean. I said this earlier, but specifically, this includes:
- Having a one or two page resume
- Using simple, easy-to-read fonts
- Providing whitespace
It’s ideal if you can get your resume into one or two pages. It’s hard I know, especially if you have a long history of work experience. But the more concise and easy to read you can make it, the better.
Next, use an appropriate typeface. A simple to read font like Arial or Times New Roman is more effective than a fancy font.
You also need to include whitespace, if possible. It might be hard to do in a one-page resume, but whitespace enhances readability.
Also, be concise. It’s better to say the same thing in three words than ten.
If you need help with resume ideas and formats, check out Resume-Now which will give you ideas for formats. You can download templates too, but be aware that they may try to upsell you.
Step #5 Complete a second draft of your resume
Go through the first draft of your resume, and this time implement the tips for beating the bots.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does my summary statement concisely describe my skills and experience?
- Do I have enough keywords that align with the job I’m applying for?
- Is my resume too wordy and can I cut some words?
- Is my resume easy to read, e.g. is the font and whitespace easy on the eyes?
Once you’ve made any fixes, complete the remaining sections of your resume like Education, Awards, Related Experience, etc. While these are nice to have, you should spend much less time on these than the other sections of your resume.
Step #6. Make your resume appeal to the hiring manager
Hooray! You got your resume past the bots and it’s headed to HR or the hiring manager. Now that a human is looking at it, you have to get and keep their attention. These are busy folks looking at a stack of resumes. At a minimum, ensure that you don’t have anything that would disqualify you from an interview, like a misspelled word or a gap in employment (which the bots should have caught but may not have).
Here’s a bit of good news: The hiring manager wants to hire you. Really. If you make it to an interview, the odds are now in your favor.
Think about it. He or she lost an employee or grew their team. They’re busy and desperate to hire a skilled person. They are less excited about the interview than you are. And because there is a shortage of talent, they really hope that you’re the one.
So be the one! Make yourself shine in your resume. Don’t hold back and be shy. Toot your horn—loudly and proudly. Share your wins, communicate your value, and show that you are a good choice. That’s what they want and it should be you. Right?
Step #7. Complete the final version of your resume
This last version of your resume should be fast and easy. You’ve already done the work and completed two drafts. For this last read through, pretend you are the hiring manager and ask yourself:
- Is this resume easy to read?
- Can I get a feel for who this person is from their summary statement?
- Does this person’s work history align (enough) with the job?
- Does this person show reliable work history?
- Can this person work remotely?
- Is this person well-rounded? Do they have additional certifications, do volunteer work, have any awards, etc.?
- Is this someone I’d like to interview?
Looking at your resume from this perspective can help you spot any red flags.
One last tip: have a copy editor review your resume. A copy editor will review it for grammar, punctuation, and wordiness. A basic copy editor will cost $30-40 an hour. Your resume shouldn’t take more than 1-2 hours to edit and the value will far outweigh the money you spend. It will make the difference between getting job interviews and having your resume end up in the round file (that’s a trash can, by the way).
When you’re done, your resume should look something like this example from the site Resume-Now.com.
I hope you found this article informative and helpful. Remember, there is no better time than now to find an online job. A few tweaks to your resume can improve your job search results and ultimately help you land an online job.
Pay attention to details like a well-formatted, effectively written resume, including keywords that align with the job. Then, have a professional edit it before you apply to jobs.
If you enjoyed this article and want more resources on working remotely, check out my free email series Remote Work Roundup – 7 Remote Work Paths.
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