If you are one of the many enlightened professionals exploring new career opportunities, you need to know the latest on resume strategies and job search trends as 2019 approaches. 

It’s time to get your resume and job search ready for 2019.

  • What do you want to do?
  • Where do you want to do it?

These are the 2 most important questions to ask yourself before starting your job search. Without focus, you’ll get lost. And getting lost in the job search of 2019 is easy to do.

While the labor market has changed considerably in recent years, some resume and job search trends haven’t changed much at all. Employers will always hire people they know, or people whose opinions they trust. Applicant Tracking Systems screen resumes before human beings. Technology – particularly social media – is here to stay and, perhaps more than any other factors, significantly influences hiring decisions.

But get ready for a couple surprises. Here’s a look at more resume and job search trends that are expected to continue into 2019.

Resumes need to be accomplishment-driven

If you’re sending out resumes that have a list of bullet-points based on your job description, stop now! Job duties state what you were hired to do – not what you did. In today’s world, you need to prove your value. What did you achieve in each of your roles?

You may be knocked-out by Knockout Questions

While your resume, cover letter, and social profile all matter, there’s something else standing between you and the interview you want: Knockout Questions. These are questions that pop up when applying for jobs online, and they are intended to “knock-out” applicants based on their responses.

Knockout Questions address issues ranging from logistics (Are you legally able to work in the US?) to qualifications (Do you have a PMP certification?) to culture fit (Describe the type of team you work best with.). Answering these questions haphazardly could destroy the whole application process, so it’s important to take your time with them.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) still screen resumes; getting through depends not only on keywords, but how the company configures their ATS

Lucky job seekers have their resumes read by human beings. But even then, a human being only spends 6 seconds sizing up each candidate before deciding “yeah” or “nay.” More common? A resume is first read by an Applicant Tracking System, or ATS. For most large companies, resumes exist only to identify reasons to disqualify candidates and reduce the applicant pool.

How do keywords play into this process? Key words from the job description are what the ATS use to search for and locate the perfect candidate match. Some companies may program their ATS to score applications that don’t meet the minimum requirements and place them in a “holding database” for further consideration later. ATS can also be configured to weigh applicants based on relevant terms –or applying filters to further refine the candidate pool (i.e. geographic or educational criteria). Recruiters and hiring managers can also specify keywords as either “desired” or “required,” which affects candidate rankings.

ATS continue to show their flaws

The fact that ATS are so widely used attests to their usefulness, yet for all the good they can do, ATS are a huge target for criticism – especially from job seekers. Employers program their systems to eliminate candidates who don’t meet certain criteria, but this could also exclude candidates who may be very talented but lack a specific type of degree from a well-known university – or who have 4 ½ years of management experience instead of the “required” 5. A few other gripes about ATS include:

  • Concerns with accuracy and reliability. A job seeker may have an excellent resume but can still be disqualified for as simple a reason as formatting. Some ATS may fail to read applications due to unorthodox fonts, fancy graphics, or text boxes.
  • Difficulty screening “atypical” applicants. Many job seekers have a non-standard work history but would be a great fit for a position. However, it would take a human being (i.e. recruiter) to make that decision. It’s unlikely that such candidates would pass through the ATS. This greatly reduces the diversity of hires.
  • Keyword dependence. Job seekers who know how ATS work can easily use a tool such as JobScan to include relevant keywords and phrases that the ATS will recognize. But these job seekers may not be a good fit for the position. Other job seekers may be rejected by the ATS because they aren’t aware of how keywords work.
  • Context of keywords. It’s not enough to have the right keyword – nor to have it appear more than once in a resume. Instead, newer ATS look for keyword relevance to an applicant’s work history and/or education.

Career paths are becoming non-linear; resumes are expected to be linear

It is unfortunate and unfair that so many great candidates are overlooked because of their untraditional backgrounds. George Ander in his book A Rare Find devised the term “jagged resume”, reflecting a career path that looks more like a lattice than a ladder. More than ever, people shift paths, pause and reinvent themselves. The days of the vertical career path are being replaced by “gig” work, contracts, and entrepreneurial ventures. Sadly, we as a society haven’t reframed our thinking – or resume expectations – to account for this shift. Employers still want the “dream” candidate. As a result, a substantial number of job seekers are screened out because they aren’t skilled in the complexities of applying for a job.

With resumes, “we’re judging people maybe more on their ability to summarize their career than their ability to do the actual job,” says Kevin Parker, CEO of HireVue, a video-interviewing technology vendor. Resumes have “the illusion of validity,” or something that’s presumed to work, but actually doesn’t.

Employers will use more AI and Big Data to make their hiring decisions

With a focus on data-driven metrics, AI, and HR analytics, companies are now starting to use artificial intelligence (AI) in lieu of or in addition to algorithms and “traditional” resumes. The hope is not only to improve the time and cost of a new hire, but predict who will be the best hire. Advocates of using big-data in recruiting claim it reduces turnover by bringing on candidates who are a better fit, and removes bias inherent in human decision-makers. Critics, however, warn that some applicants could be unfairly weeded out. For example, if a company isn’t diverse, these new systems will most likely replicate existing biases that see certain people as more capable and therefore more successful than others.

In short, this trend is all about making hiring predictions – not just hiring decisions. 2019 will see more companies harnessing the power of data by implementing more sophisticated AI and automation platforms to create predictive models based on an applicant’s information. Yes, that means that your social media history may come back to haunt you. Every post, every “like”, and every comment contributes to your online brand, and employers are looking.

Online profiles will become more important

Whether or not you agree with where big data is going, it will affect your online presence, and that will enhance – or limit – your job prospects. These days, your LinkedIn profile is more important for job hunting than your resume. With 260 million active users and 15 million open jobs posted, LinkedIn is the go-to platform for recruiters – and for networking.


  • Tailor your resume every time. JobScan is an invaluable resource for job seekers of all ages, in all industries.
  • Engage with your LinkedIn network. It’s not enough to update your LinkedIn profile. You need to engage with your LinkedIn network and build a powerful presence. My colleague Bob McIntosh wrote a thorough, insightful article on how to do this strategically and tactfully.
  • Be an Emotionally Intelligent job seeker. It takes a lot of maturity – and Emotional Intelligence – to be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses and how they affect your job prospects. Many otherwise competent professionals miss this key element of the job search. Emotionally intelligent job seekers are resilient, skillful at adapting to stress, and learn from their mistakes. They are also good at sensing what others are thinking, knowing how to react, and don’t hesitate to pay it forward along the way.

Bottom line
The single, biggest take-away about getting your resume and job search ready for 2019 isn’t terribly innovative or insightful: you’ll still need to convince an employer to take a chance on you. With all of this new technology, human connections and one-to-one relationships still remain key to finding the right position.