The job search has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Even within in the last 5 years, I have seen critical changes in how people source information and their decision-making processes to select potential job candidates. Because how we think, receive and consume information is radically different in the Digital Age – there are 3 essentials for an effective resume that a job seeker must be aware of.

1. Information Impatience & Your Resume

How people consume information, particularly the written word, has changed significantly in the last decade. How authors are encouraged to structure blogs, articles (like this one), and books are vastly different to keep the reader engaged. Studies have shown that the changes in our reading patterns is largely contributed to distractibility and impatience.

The average person’s attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to less than 8 seconds today – which is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish. – Philippe Wampfler

Instead of preferring to read a ‘traditional’ paragraph – we find that shorter sentences and therefore shorter paragraphs are easier to consume. In the impatience to get to the point, the next piece of information, or because of multitasking – we don’t read quite the way we used to.

What does all this mean for your resume? Here are a few key points to consider to keep your resume reader-friendly:

  • Shorten your Summary or Opening Clause to a sales pitch format.
  • Include a section for Core Expertise that highlight your skills, abilities, and experience.
  • Focus attention on your Accomplishments by adding a section that includes important real life examples of how you have applied your skills on the job towards a positive outcome.
  • Reduce the endless bullet point lists of your roles and responsibilities. Summarize your role in a short paragraph if possible.

2. Online Compatible Resumes

Having an online compatible resume that syncs well with ATS (applicant tracking systems) is a requirement if you want to have your resume seen by human being. Ever feel like your resume goes into a ‘black hole’ and never sees the light of day?

Applicant tracking systems kill 75 percent of job seekers’ chances of landing a job as soon as they submit their resumes. – Terena Bell

Every recruiter and most major corporations use ATS systems for managing job applicants. Quite frankly, there is no way to look through the hundreds of resumes received. In order to narrow down the list of potential applicants, software is used to ensure your resume matches the job requirements. Ensure that your resume gets a fighting chance!

Essential Resume Compatibility Checklist:

  • No resume templates – use a plain Word document.
  • No headers, footer, tables, continuous lines, pictures, graphics, or graphs.
  • Plain text only – sans serif font is best for optical scanning software.
  • Limit your hyperlinks, some ATS software does not convert these well.
  • Stick to a Word document if at all possible, .pdf documents do not always convert nicely.
  • Make sure there is plenty of ‘white space’ and do not cram your margins.

Your resume will not look ‘fancy’ but it is more likely to be seen by a real person. If you like, you can always create an interview-specific resume that looks more appealing.

3. Use Keywords to Highlight Information

Thanks to the Age of Impatience along with resume scanning software – it is even more important to develop your resume outside of the traditional methods. People don’t want to be bogged down reading an entire sentence describing one skill – so don’t bother.

Instead of taking the time to hammer out a sentence or two to include several skills / roles / core tasks you performed for each job you held: reduce them to keywords.  Here’s an example from a Marketing professional client:

Delivered Marketing Concepts | Created Branding | Performed Market Research | Trend Analysis | Company Presentations | Portfolios | Tradeshows | Email E-Marketing | Social Media | Brand Awareness | CRM Tools | Landing Pages | Digital Ad Targeted Campaigns | SEO Audits & Analysis | Email Marketing | Brochures | Product Stickers | Menus & Menu Boards

Instead of wasting valuable real estate – condense what you can into keywords. This way you can free up space to talk about how you used your skills (real life examples) to positively impact your job, your team, your company or the client!

An Effective Resume in 2019

There is much that still remains valuable in our more traditional resumes. Sentence structure, grammar, word flow and the intentional use of power words are still critical to stand out from the crowd.  However, how we develop and present information is very different than even 5 years ago. There is less inclination to read and more focus on keywords.

Attention is changing because of digital platforms, and that trend is irreversible … human cognition adjusts to the world around us. – Philippe Wampfler

I predict that resumes as we know them will disappear altogether in the future. Electronic copies of your dossier will be no longer necessary by 2024. Resumes will be replaced by LinkedIn or another application that houses all of your credentials. A few of these applications are already in Beta. As a job seeker, you must adapt to the world changing around you. In a few years maybe you’ll need to ask Alexa, Siri or say “Hey, Google” to get your next gig!


  • Erin Urban

    Career growth & leadership development coach, author and speaker focused on lifting others up into powerful positive transformations.

    Erin Urban, LSSBB, is a certified professional development coach, speaker, and author with a mission to inspire powerful positive transformations. With an extensive background in leading individual, cultural and organizational change initiatives: Erin is a certified leadership development coach, Forbes Contributor, and founder of UPPSolutions, LLC. For more information, visit and connect with Erin on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.