God invented word processing so that we can create a tailored resume every, single time we apply for a job. I am absolutely certain of it.
In ancient times – B.W.P. – (before word processing) there was no “insert”; no “delete”; no “search and replace”. Imagine…an entire world without “undo”! It was so sloggingly slow to modify a resume that pretty much everybody wrote one resume; end of story.
Inexplicably, even in our modern, A.W.P. times, most job seekers still use just one resume. And it is easy to understand why. The thought of it is just so deliciously, temptingly easy: you write your resume once – and you’re done.
Sadly, easy is one thing; effective is another.
The primary goal of a resume is to get an interview. A tailored resume is almost always more effective at getting an interview than a single, “generic” resume.
To get an interview your resume needs to demonstrate you can do the job. It is hard work to respond to job postings but it is also hard work to read hundreds of applications and decide who are the best candidates to interview.
In a very basic sense, initial resume reviews are about piles: in my corporate life there were ”definite interview”, “maybe” and “floor” piles. Your mission is to get in the” definite interview” pile or at least the ”maybe” pile. To put it another way – stay off the “floor”!
The people or machines reviewing your resume do not have the time, inclination or ability to assume anything about you. If your resume doesn’t clearly show you can do the job, you are headed for the floor.
Tailoring your resume significantly increases your probability of getting an interview. The single resume approach is too generic to demonstrate you can do a specific job. Unless your one resume just happens to be a perfect fit – and what are the chances of that – it is a “maybe” or “floor” strategy at best.
A tailored resume highlights your strengths for the specific job opportunity at hand. It makes it crystal clear to the reader how and why you can do the job. The tailored resume is a “definite interview” or ”maybe” strategy – depending on the strength of your abilities and experience.
Your tailored resume will be even stronger if you incorporate the organization’s mission and needs into your resume. Do some research – and I mean beyond the HR site - to see how your skills, accomplishments and experience mesh with their culture.
Does this mean a new, baked from scratch resume every time? No. Most people tailor their resumes to show how they are a match for the job opportunity and can help the organization to solve their problems:
1. Rearrange sections, sentences or words so that the most important things – to the hiring manager – come first.
- Put your most relevant skills, accomplishments and experience first
- List training by type not year so “the good stuff” is first
- Move education to the end or beginning of your resume depending on whether it is your strength
- Bold your job title instead of your company depending on which is more relevant for the job
2. Use words that are familiar to the hiring manager. People tend to hire people they perceive to fit into their culture – and words are a powerful indicator of culture. You are already using similar industry words because you are qualified for the job.
- Modify your resume to use culturally similar words: for example, if they say “client” instead of “customer”, you use ‘client”
- Particularly if you are a career changer, make sure you have “translated” jargon from previous positions to more neutral, functional words so that you do not appear as an “outsider”
3. Include information that highlights your strengths.
- Add a Profile at the top of your resume that summarizes the top skills, experience and accomplishments relevant to the job opportunity. Be succinct; 2 lines or 3 bullet points are plenty
- In the body of your resume, include everything that adds to your case, and consider deleting things that are no longer relevant, distract or perhaps linger for ego alone
4. Housekeeping tip.
- Consider saving each tailored resume as a separate document, named for each job opportunity.
- Some people like to create a binder of resume copies to browse through when they need inspiration!
Always, always check for typos – use humans as well as spell check. Ah, the miracle of spell check!
God hit one out of the park with word processing! Take full advantage of it to tailor your resume to show how your “gifts differing” make you the right person for the job!
Let me know how things are going for you — I’m interested!