Resume Writing Tips in the Era of COVID-19

Changing careers or finding a new job can be challenging at any time, but 2020 and the COVID-19 crisis has wrought a new level of volatility to job hunting that would have been hard to fathom a year ago. All that said, the bedrock of the job search is still a good resume. And with that in mind, we queried some of the top resume writers and consultants on Fiverr and asked them for their best advice and tips.


First of all, thank you for bringing your knowledge and experience to the Fiverr community. For those who don’t know you, can you give us a little background on who you are and how you made the leap into freelancing?

Don: I wanted the freedom to control my schedule and income while also helping people find their next job. I combined my background in HR, education, and certifications to create my own company.

Steve: I had occupied a number of roles within different universities, having previously completed a degree/master’s and submitted my PhD thesis in entirely unrelated subjects. While I always enjoyed the academic environment, it had long been a dream to work for myself. I was fortunate to quickly build up credibility on Fiverr, and increase my prices accordingly (often to try and slow work down, as I frequently studied to juggle both jobs). It got to the point where my day job was less profitable than my part-time Fiverr work, so I took the leap to go full-time on Fiverr. Since then, I have been fortunate to grow my profile and business further. Given the current situation with Coronavirus, and the volume of clients I have supported who have lost their jobs, I feel grateful and vindicated in my decision.

What are your top general tips or tricks for how to write or update your resume? 

Richard: If you’re applying through normal application channels, electronically, I strongly recommend using an ATS-optimized resume. Resumes with graphics, colors, fancy designs-while they may look nice–are not effective for HR and ATS screens and you diminish your chances of getting to the interview round. If you are physically handing your resume to a hiring manager or recruiter, then you can use a resume with more design, but I recommend always ensuring you have a fully ATS-optimized resume ready to go.

Steve: My main tip would be to ensure the resume aligns with any role you target. Because the industry is heavily automated, key words are critical to making an impact. In terms of tricks, I’d recommend keeping the resume design simple. Many recruitment systems struggle to read ostentatious, design-heavy formats, so while they may look aesthetically pleasing, they won’t necessarily help you through the automated recruitment process

Don: My top tips are to:
1. First identify what your next career step looks like and then:
2. Create achievement statements based on what those companies are looking for. Take a job description and then tie relevant outcomes from your experience to show what you’ve done around things they are looking for.
3. Use ATS friendly resume templates (word docs); no graphic templates, columns, charts, etc.

Tammy: The resume must be targeted toward your individual submissions to increase your visibility in the scanning systems.

How do you feel resume writing has changed due to the development of COVID-19? Or do the same rules apply?

Don: I don’t see any change in how resumes are written. I think there is more of a focus now on the proper resume form that gets you noticed by a recruiter and through an ATS. It’s always been that way.

Richard: The same rules apply in terms of ensuring that resume content is fully optimized for ATS screening software, and tailored to each position being applied to. Actually this is now even more important given the competitive nature of the application landscape.

Steve: I personally haven’t noticed any great departure from the norm. However, I am receiving enquiries from different industries. For obvious reasons, a lot of entrepreneurs/small business owners are struggling, so they’re coming to me looking for more stable/traditional employment.

Tammy: Customizing the resume with the appropriate keywords is even more critical now due to the volume of submissions. You must rank higher than your competition to be a candidate.

Are you seeing any trends in the marketplace? Buyers from certain industries?

Richard: The only trend I am seeing is an increase in the number of professionals laid off, furloughed, made redundant–this is across the board. I see buyers from the full spectrum of industries normally, and this hasn’t changed during COVID.

Don: I am a bit unique because I live in Los Angeles, and our largest industry is the entertainment industry. Prior to COVID, I did not work on many entertainment resumes but since COVID, I am getting a large client base of Producers and Directors. In that space, resumes are more like a list of projects they’ve worked on. They now see that this doesn’t differentiate themselves in a market saturated with unemployed entertainment professionals and they are now looking to create something different that will stand out.

Tammy: I have seen a trend in people considering owning their own businesses and requesting executive biographies and documents to provide to potential investors.

Any tips you can give for applying to a job with no previous experience?

Don: Don’t rely on your resume! Start building connections with “influencers” inside organizations that can make hiring decisions. Bypass recruiters and go straight to the decision makers. Those are either people in roles that you want or one level up. This is something I work on with career coaching clients.

Richard: Everyone has some kind of experience they can share–even if it may not be experience in the traditional sense of the term. It is important that you include academic experience, relevant coursework, extracurriculars, volunteerism, internships, projects, research, interests, and any skills–soft skills included. 

Steve: It can be difficult to either transition into a new industry or enter the job market for first time. I would recommend identifying skills that are transferable to your target industry, and emphasizing those. Don’t highlight your deficiencies, but present yourself as a fast-learner with a passion for the industry, who has a suite of existing skills that will help you make a seamless transition

Tammy: Focus on your cross-functional skills.

Do you have any stories to share of Buyers who’ve reached out to you informing you that they got the interview, based on a resume you helped them write? If so, what made them stand out? 

Richard: I have heard from customers that they’ve been successful in getting calls for interviews, and have been offered jobs–this isn’t limited to any one particular sector. I do not hear back from everyone, but no news is good news. Rarely–I would say four or five times a year, I hear from customers who aren’t successful in getting job offers, but this is usually because they are not updating their application documents for each position they are applying for (this is a critical practice for success). However, I have not heard back from anyone in the past few COVID months saying they’ve been unsuccessful, which indicates that their applications are indeed bearing fruit. 

Steve: I’m finding that the value I provide isn’t specifically about helping them into a new job (a lot of industries/companies remain closed, so it’s really preparatory work), but about giving them confidence following a completely unforeseeable redundancy. The nature of the virus has shaken a lot of people’s confidence both in the “system: and in their own abilities. I’m dealing with people who have been in the same company for 20 years. For them, hearing that their skills hold value and will benefit them once the market re-ignites, is a source of reassurance.

For more tips, resources, and services to help you take control of your job search, visit our Job Search Hub on Fiverr.

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