To virtually all Job Seekers, the concept of editing your basic generic resume to better reflect the requirements of each specific position seems like a “no brainer”. The fact that this customization work rarely happens is probably a result of the perception that this will require a lot of time and effort to do for each applied position. Especially for those Job Seekers who are currently employed and strapped for time, the idea of spending hours poring over a resume for each position seems so overwhelming a task that it just rarely occurs.
Altering your resume for each job posting does not, however, have to be a time consuming task that most do not have the time to do. In reality, a Job Seeker can edit his or her resume in a matter of minutes to better reflect the opening. The key is understanding that rather than having to rewrite from a blank page each time, you only tweak what you have to.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do in order to customize the document. Then, you will easily see how quickly it can be done.
• Everything really starts with a critical review of the job posting to determine what is different or unique about this position in comparison to your standard core resume. Remember that you are not rewriting your resume (you don’t have time for that), but rather you are tweaking the document for customization. I recommend doing a side-by-side comparison of the posting and your resume, so you can easily note the differences.
• Every job posting has some key words that are included for a reason…because they are key. In a job search, keywords are usually nouns or noun phrases that highlight a specific skill or set of skills. Pull that terminology out of the position and insert it (if it is not there already) into your document. This way the resume reader, when reviewing submissions, will easily see terms that they are comfortable with and desire to read. This exercise will also help you immensely if your resume will be read first by a computer in an Applicant Tracking System. In this situation, the computer is probably only looking for those keywords, and will rank the candidates on that standard.
• The key section to customize is the resume “Summary of Qualifications”. This area typically comes right after your contact information on the document, and has replaced the “Objective Statement” by most resume writers. These couple of sentences should tie neatly to what qualifications were outlined in the job posting. This editing should have a significant positive impact on the reviewer, while only taking the writer a few minutes of time to complete.
• A key to a resume is the stating of the work accomplishments you have obtained while employed. Your decision on what accomplishments to use and in what order to place them (usually most important goes first) should be aligned with what you have learned from the job posting. For example, if a posting states the need to be experienced in a particular software program, and you are not only well-skilled in this area but also part of the successful implementation team, it should be noted prominently.
• Don’t just add, but also look to remove information that does not seem relevant to this job opening. You don’t want to run the risk of your edits all being adds, as now your 1.5 page resume is spilling on to page 3 and becoming difficult to read.
• While you are probably not in a position to have someone read what you have changed each time you customize, you should thoroughly read through your work for any errors. You will quickly offset any goodwill obtained through your customization if you have misspellings and grammatical errors.
• You will want to recall exactly what you wrote in each customized resume. This will assist you when you are called for a phone interview. So, be sure to save each in a clearly labeled file that can be accessed easily.
In these weekly columns over the years, I have stressed repeatedly the importance of giving yourself a competitive advantage. It is the best way for you to stand out from the crowd of competitors you are facing in a battle for the few minutes of time the Recruiter will spend actually reading the resumes submitted. Take a minute and make the necessary tweaks that best align the resume to the posting.
As always, best of luck in your job search!
The following has been prepared for the general information of RochesterJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: