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With the excitement of the holidays wearing off, most of us are shifting gears with our eye on positive change in 2017. For many, this involves a fresh career start, meaning that the daunting task of the resume overhaul is at the top of the New Year’s resolution list.

We all want to be more efficient, more effective, and more aligned with the rapidly changing world around us. So, too, should our executive resumes.

The following are tips for ensuring that your resume is 2017-ready.

1). Create a one-of-a-kind, contemporary layout.

Resume Trends for 2017

With many markets still in recovery mode, job search competition is fierce. Capturing the attention of recruiters and hiring agents starts with the visual appearance of the resume. This represents an important hook that is then reinforced with high-impact content. If your resume features a bland, overused template, you are sending the visual message that you are just like everyone else.

Having a unique layout does not mean that the resume diverges from standard resume conventions. The goal is to meet readers’ traditional expectations, while providing a modern look and feel.  A unique layout also means that it is designed with your specific career story in mind. Choices such as whether a physical address should be included, whether education comes before or after experience, if a career highlights section is appropriate or not, or if attention should be drawn to your title or your company name should all be made strategically and with purpose, not based on what the template you are currently using dictates.

2). Make your career target crystal-clear.

A 2017-proof resume will unambiguously position you for your ideal role. It will leave no room for guesswork on behalf of the reader as to the organizational level, industry, or types of challenges you would make a great fit for.  One simple strategy is to change your summary heading. A summary heading entitled “Professional Profile” gives the reader no information at all. But if in lieu of this common, bland heading, you use a targeted, information-rich one, such as “Sales Executive – Manufacturing Industry”, you have already given the reader a wealth of information before they’ve even begun to read your summary.

Although adding a targeted headline is an important first step, keep in mind that the resume in its entirety should position you appropriately for the role you seek, highlighting the core strengths and skills that employers consider most valuable and that are in highest demand for the specific position.

3). Ensure that your resume is optimized for technologically advanced recruiting techniques.

Did you know that before a single human being even looks at your resume, it has often already gone through preliminary screening based on automated keyword searches? That means that even if you meet all of the required job qualifications, if you haven’t used the right terminology, you may never get a call for an interview. For example, a General Management candidate may have their resume screened for “Cross-Functional Team Leadership”, “Mergers & Acquisitions”, or “Turnaround”, whereas a Public Relations candidate may be screened for “Community Outreach”, “Crisis Management”, or “Strategic Positioning”.

To create a resume that can pass the 2017 technology test, it is critical to identify the keywords for the job you are targeting. One tip is to scan job ads, company websites, or even specialized industry journals. But don’t limit yourself to skills and areas of expertise. Professional credentials, foreign languages, and even city names, among many other possibilities, represent searchable keywords.

4). Provide powerful and lean content with finicky, easily overwhelmed readers in mind.

Today’s readers simply don’t have the patience they had prior to the Digital Revolution. You cannot expect them to weed through tedious details to find the essentials. Put yourself in a hiring agent’s shoes and only give them only the most critical and most impressive information. This includes both the scale at which you have operated and an indication of your performance. It does not include a list of day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. A resume is a business proposal, so focus your descriptions on your measureable business impact and the details needed to understand your scope of responsibility, such as your budget and team size, size of the deals you closed, or regions you presided over.

If a career transition is on the horizon for the new year, you will need to prepare it for the 2017 reality of how resumes are read and screened. By following the tips above, your resume will be powerful both in terms of the visual strategy and content. It will also facilitate hiring agents’ work so that they quickly connect the dots that you are the right-fit candidate for your ideal role.

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