If you’re like many job seekers, you have one resume that you send out every time you apply for a job. You tailor your cover letter for each position, but you treat your resume as a “set it and forget it” type of document. This is a common mistake that can cost you the chance to interview with some great companies. As a candidate, you must take every measure possible to give yourself an edge over the competition, and that starts with tailoring your resume to the job you are applying for each and every time.
Your Resume Isn’t Always Relevant
A single resume cannot realistically meet each hiring manager’s unique requirements. In order to grab the attention of the resume screener, you must give them what they are looking for. This is especially true for companies that use resume screening software. Whether the document is scanned by a machine or by human eyes, the hiring manager will have a firm set of requirements that determine which resumes land in the “yes” pile.
First, Conduct a Close Read
It’s easy to fall into the trap of scanning job postings for major detail only. After the first few, they all start to look the same. However, they are not all the same. Study each job posting to determine which skills, qualifications and credentials they value the most. Match those priorities against your qualities and qualifications. From there, you are ready to adjust your resume.
Start with the Objective
Your objective statement should be succinct and specific to the job you are applying for. Never send out a resume with a generalized objective. Choose something like, “To become a network systems engineer with XYZ Corporation’s e-commerce group.”
List Your Most Relevant Skills First
In order to ensure that the hiring manager or resume scanner sees your relevant skills, list them immediately after your objective in a section labeled “Relevant Skills.” Use the priorities you identified in your initial research to determine what the most relevant skills are, and only list the skills and qualifications you actually possess. Do not be tempted to exaggerate.
Order Your Job Experience by Relevance
Traditional resumes list job descriptions in reverse chronological order. When optimizing a resume, you can toss this convention out the window. After your Skills, create a section called “Relevant Experience” and list your most relevant previous position(s) here. These are the jobs that are most similar to the position you are applying for. Make these descriptions shine, using relevant keywords and quantifying your achievements whenever possible.
Remember that the point of sending your resume and cover letter is to get the hiring manager interested enough that they want to speak to you in person. Taking the time to tailor your resume to the position will optimize your chances of getting a call for an interview.