The Pandemic-Resistant Résumé

“Résumés may be more for robots than human eyes at first, but most job seekers are still advised to distill their work history in one typewritten page.” G. Beltran, The New York Times, Jan. 22, 2022

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key


Excerpt: The Pandemic Changed Everything About Work, Except the Humble Résumé,  Gray  Beltran, The New York Times, Jan. 22, 2022

Two years into a pandemic, many aspects of work have changed drastically. In that time, some people have started new jobs, Zoomed their days away and then left companies where they never even met their co-workers in person.

But one aspect of work remains remarkably unchanged: the importance of the traditional, single-page résumé created in a word processor.

‘Hiring managers and recruiters still rely on the résumé,’ said Vicki Salemi, an expert on the job-search process at Monster, the online job-posting site. The résumé, Ms. Salemi continued, is still  ‘the standard to apply for a job and get noticed.’

In the era of databases and applicant-tracking technology, software systems sort through job candidates before they make their way to recruiters.

So it’s important to make sure that a résumé can easily be understood by both humans and technology, said Kathryn Minshew, founder and chief executive officer of The Muse, a website that offers job listings and career coaching.

And machine and human readers alike struggle with overly stylized fonts, such as Comic Sans. Tried-and-true classics like Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, Calibri and Georgia are still among the best font options for your résumé, Ms. Minshew said…Ms. Minshew counsels people to look closely at the job description and highlight keywords and skills the company is looking for in that role. “Make sure that, if it’s relevant and applicable, you’re highlighting similar skills or even some of the same keywords on your résumé,” Ms. Minshew said… Part of the reason straying from traditional formatting is risky is a résumé could be discarded by the software screening if it can’t process a candidate’s experience correctly.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 60 minutes.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Two years into a pandemic and many aspects of work have changed drastically except the traditional, single-page résumé.
  2. Hiring managers and recruiters still rely on the résumé.
  3. Résumé design and formats are relatively static.
  4. This is the era of databases and applicant-tracking technology.
  5. It  is crucial for job seekers to highlight and quantify their skills and experience.
  6. These strategies help ensure that their résumé shows up when recruiters search a job site.
  7. Today’s job candidates can apply for one position through a company’s job portal and  have their résumés uploaded and stored in a database.
  8. Keywords matter because many times companies will search their database for candidates.
  9. It is advised that you highlight keywords and skills that  are relevant and applicable.
  10. Applicants who don’t include the right terms in their résumé at a disadvantage.


Word Map by Against the Odds


Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Résumé design and formats are relatively static, too. A job seeker might find herself using the same format to apply for a type of job that didn’t even exist when she first created a document with her name and address at the top and work history in bullet points below. That’s because while the basics of the résumé itself haven’t changed, the audience has.

Reading ComprehensionFill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Unlike those ___jobs in the days of___ and ___résumés, today’s job ___might apply for one___ through a company’s job___, have their___uploaded and___in a___, and then be___ with a different role at the same ___months or years later.

WORD LIST: résumés, matched, company, database stored, portal,  candidates, seeking, faxed, mailed, position,


Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Do you keep your résumé up to date? Why or why not?
  2. Why did the recruiters at Monster rank the résumé as the most effective tool for finding candidates?
  3. Why is it good that résumé design and formats are static?
  4. Why is it important that a résumé can be understood by people and technology?
  5. According to the article which are the best fonts to use when writing a résumé?
  6. What is different in the way candidates apply for job positions today?
  7. According to Ms. Minshew, why are keywords so important on a résumé?
  8. Why has the résumé stayed constant while work itself has transformed in the past 2 years?
  9. Why would it be risky to depart from the traditional résumé formatting?
  10. List three new ideas  that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.