One of the biggest mistakes job hunters make is not tailoring the resume to the job. Instead of having one generic resume that you hand out everywhere, you should be targeting your resume for each application.
Here’s how to tailor your resume and be more likely to get a callback — or even hired.
Pay Close Attention to the Job Description
If you’re applying to a job online, first stop and read the description closely. Look at everything from the job title to the qualifications and requirements for the position. Also, take note of keywords or phrases used, like “fast-paced environment,” “creative process” or “drive the team.”
Next, take a look at your resume. Do you have the skills and experience required for this job, and if you do, is it clear just from glancing at your resume? Many hiring managers and recruiters only take a few moments looking at each application, so you want to make sure all your important details are easy to find.
Now Update Your Resume to Match
You don’t need to completely scrap your resume and write a fresh one for each job. Instead, you just need to tweak certain areas to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.
If you have a summary section on your resume, update it to match what the posting was looking for in a candidate. For example, if the listing was looking for someone with “an appetite for innovation,” you might rewrite your summary to highlight the creative and innovative career path you’ve taken.
For your experience, make sure you emphasize the skills that will be relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you’re applying for an engineering job after interning at an engineering firm and working part-time in a retail environment, you’ll obviously want to make sure your internship is at the forefront instead of your sales job. Likewise, if you’re applying for a sales position, your retail experience will be more relevant and should be emphasized further.
Don’t Miss the Keywords
Take the list of keywords and phrases from the job listing and make sure they are reflected in your resume — but not in a way that looks like you’re just copying the posting, or using the phrases incorrectly.
For example, if the job posting was looking for someone to “drive the team,” in your experience, you should mention your leadership skills. Try to hit as many of the keywords from the job posting as possible, including hard skills like technical qualifications and soft skills like creativity or collaboration.
Many companies now care about the cultural fit of the employee as much as they do the qualifications, so try and include phrases that relate to the company’s mission. Look at their website or LinkedIn page to see how they talk about themselves and use those keywords and phrases as well. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you might even want to take a look at the current employees on LinkedIn to see how they describe themselves and their positions.
Candidate Screening Software
Another reason it’s important to use the keywords is because some companies use screening software to find applicants. This software scans the resumes and sorts the good from the bad before a human ever even takes a look at it. If your resume doesn’t include the right keywords (like job descriptions or necessary skills), it will sort you into the bad pile and your chances of getting an interview are out the window.
Formatting a Resume
Sometimes, if your resume is formatted improperly, it can get flagged in the software too. That’s why you should also make sure to use a quality template for your resume that is easy to read by humans and computers alike. You can work with a professional resume writer or find a resume builder online: there are many options available at ResumeBuild’s website.
One Last Look Through
Read through your resume again with the new changes, looking for typos, grammatical errors or unclear phrasing. Once you’re satisfied with your work, save it — as a copy. Keep a master copy of your resume with all your experience and skills listed so that each time you want to apply for a new position, you have a blank slate to work off with your new keywords and phrases.
You can save your newly updated resume with the name of the company you are applying to, or the position that was listed. Whatever system you end up using, make sure you stick to it so that you don’t end up mixing up resumes or sending the incorrect versions.