There are no one-size-fits-all resumes. In my earlier posts, I’ve covered some resume basics (Two Ways To Boost Your Resume & Resume Formatting). In this post, we will talk about how to target your resume. This is probably one of the most useful, and most underutilized ways of increasing the chance of getting a job interview. When you target your resume to a specific job, you are making your qualifications more obvious, and thus making it easier to get noticed by the employer. As a recruiter, there are days when I go through dozens or even hundreds of resumes. With that type of volume, I can tell you with full honesty that I’m not reading them all in detail, but rather looking for some very obvious signs that the candidate in question warrants a further conversation. Here are some basic methods you can employ to target your resume to a specific job:
1) Cut Out The White Noise — when you want to target your resume, it’s important to focus on the things that are relevant to the potential employer. Things to cut out are Objective, Summary and Personal Interests. An Objective is self explanatory if you are sending it to someone. A resume is itself a summary, so take this section out. Personal Interests are also not going to help you get the interview if you don’t adequately demonstrate your qualifications. In fact, your interests could run contrary to the person screening your resume.
2) Use The Job Description — the job description for the role you are applying to is basically a blueprint as to what is important. Use the position description to identify the key skills and duties of the job, and then make sure your resume and matching experience speaks to the job. For example, the first few bullet points about your current job should highlight the duties talked about in the first few bullets of the position description. If you need to move bullets around, do so! If you need to add more details about your current experience related to the job, do so!
3) Cut And Paste — your word processing program makes tweaks to your resume sometimes as easy as cutting and pasting material in new spots. Bullet points should be shuffled around depending on their relevance to the job. Removing extraneous details is also helpful. Don’t hesitate to move things around to make them more obvious.
4) Focus On The Present — the most recent 3-5 years is where you should include the most detail about your work experience. A complete accounting of your work history is necessary, but short descriptions of your jobs more than 5 years old is sufficient. Your next employer is not likely to put a big premium on experience that isn’t current.
It’s a great idea to have a general resume as a starting point. However, a minimal amount of minor revisions on your resume can really make the difference between getting the interview, or not!