When a hiring manager reviews your resume you want them to say, “Wow! That person sounds like the perfect fit for the job!” And then, of course, they call you for the interview! So, how do you create a resume that communicates that you’re exactly what they’re looking for in a new employee? RELATED: Need to write a resume? Watch these resume tutorials! Below are four tips to make your resume perfect for the job you're applying to.
I’ve written a lot about the importance of investing time into every job application you submit, even if it means applying for fewer jobs. Related: 3 Secrets To A Powerful Resume Summary While it’s most efficient to get your resume fine-tuned to a point where it needs little modification for each new job application, you generally will need to make a few changes each time in order to customize your document.
You’ve heard the advice that a resume needs to be customized, and that sending one generic resume being to multiple employers isn’t going to cut it. This holds even more truth now that a majority of employers are relying on Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software which reads and ranks your resume. Related: 4 Easy Steps For Creating A Targeted Resume The Applicant Tracking Systems use algorithms to rank your resume according to experience and keywords so some tweaks to your resume may be in order. While it’s nearly impossible to figure the exact algorithm being used, what you can do is try to offer as much information as possible that's relevant to what the employer is seeking. Start by reading the job posting and identifying the key roles, responsibilities, and requirements that are indicated there. Then you will want to do two things: showcase your capabilities both under the "Profile Summary" of your resume as well as under some of the jobs where they are relevant. A good tip is to have a "Capabilities" section on your resume right after the "Profile Summary." For example, if the job posting indicates the job requires someone with “extensive experience managing large-scale, multimillion-dollar projects to meet budgets, schedules, and specifications,” then just show this as a statement in your "Capabilities" section, like:
Why Custom Tailor A Resume At All?Why? Because many companies don’t immediately read your resume anymore. Instead, they file it with the other 700 resumes they received and feed it through a computer filter called an Applicant Tracking System, which only looks for ‘keywords.' This system excludes resumes that don’t contain keywords matching the job posting and spits out the resumes of applicants whose resume language closely matches the job skills required.
Think You Can Game the System?ATS technology is getting smarter every day - keywords in a block of text dumped into the resume at the end will be ignored. The filters look for ‘context.' That is, these filters want to see those keywords used with and near other relevant words. In other words, the system cannot be gamed. Also, real, live people still read many resumes - and they are open to being impressed and persuaded. A good resume makes the employer want to hire you based on your resume - that’s the reason they call you in for an interview (to make sure you are as impressive in person).
Start With Your Resume TemplateYour existing resume will act as the template for each custom/targeted resume. We are then going to take the keywords used in the job posting and work them into your resume. Your resume template is your master copy. It includes your name, but not your address (particularly if you are applying out of town), your nice, polite Gmail address, and your phone number. Then, you'll create blank sections you’ll label privately as “Professional Title" and “Summary." Your Summary is for your Featured Skills, followed by your relevant credentials. This is followed by your last 10-12 years of employment history (Job title with dates) in chronological order from the most recent to oldest. Designate any employment gaps of more than a year with an appropriate title and date range:
- 2011-2012 Furthering Education
- 2011-2012 Travel
- 2008 Seeking Employment
- 2008 Volunteering
- 2003-2005 Family Care
- 2003-2005 Military Service
Additional Notes:A series of short-term jobs can be grouped together as “Temporary Work," “Part-time Work,” or “Contract Work” depending on the facts. Never lie on your resume - nothing is a guaranteed barrier to employment but lying would be. Also see my article, “What To Do If You Lied On Your Resume." Then, Volunteering, Military Service details, Honors, and Certifications can follow.
BONUS TIPAsk yourself for each job, “What did I accomplish in this job that no one else would have done?” These accomplishments are VERY important. We are going to make an effort to use them with keywords tailored to each job application. You’re going to mention these accomplishments in the interview, too, so write them down!
How To Customize A Target ResumeKeep in mind that each of your target resumes should be tailored to a specific job or type of work. Starting with your master resume, here's how to convert it into a target resume:
1. Copy Keywords From Job DescriptionsRead the job description (noting the position title) then copy the whole thing into a separate document. Do a search for six other job descriptions that use the same title (search the web or an online job site). Copy these entirely into the same separate document. Finally, you can opt to check the free US Department of Labor Statistics’ free download, the “Occupational Outlook Handbook" since it happens to contain common job descriptions for US occupations that you can use in your job description collection (copy and paste the relevant job description to your list).
2. Determine Which Keywords Make The Most AppearancesThese job descriptions contain words in common – KEYWORDS, words relating to THREE categories: