Boilerplate resumes are easy, but they won’t get you very far in today’s job market. Tailoring your resume for specific positions is a much better way to get noticed and land interviews.
Do you have a resume? Probably. But a more accurate question is whether you have resumes because like it or not, the idea of a simple job search has gone the way of the dinosaurs – it no longer exists. To compete these days, you need multiple versions of your resume, each one tailored to specific job descriptions or even specific employers.
The good news is that you don’t need to rewrite your resume from scratch every time you apply for a different job opening. In most cases, minor modifications are all it takes to make your resume stand out from the rest of the pack.
Why Tailoring Your Resume Is So Important
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, as of September 2011 the ranks of the unemployed had swelled to more than 14 million people. When job openings become available, decision-makers are swamped with resumes, forcing them to find ways to quickly reduce the pool of applicants to a more manageable level.
One of the strategies employers use to cull out the most promising applicants is to scan resumes for words and phrases that line up with the job requirements. Without a tailored resume, even the most qualified applicants run the risk of being invisible to employers.
How to Tailor Your Resume
Tailoring a resume isn’t complicated. The idea is to reorganize or rephrase the material in your standard resume for particular types of positions and employers. Here’s how . . .
- Read the Job Description. The first step is to thoroughly read the job description and determine which qualifications make you a good candidate for the position. If a detailed job description isn’t available, contact the employer – most are willing to provide additional information upon request.
- Prioritize Accomplishments & Qualifications. After you have decided which of your qualifications will be most important to the employer, prioritize them on your resume. For example, if the employer indicates that previous management experience is major requirement, emphasize your supervisory and management experience right out of the gate. The higher necessary qualifications appear on the page, the more likely it is that they will capture the attention of decision-makers.
- Research buzzwords. Every position involves certain buzzwords, industry shorthand that is familiar to the employer and presumably, to qualified applicants. Although it’s possible to get carried away, don’t be afraid to tailor your resume by sprinkling a few buzzwords throughout the page.
- Cover Letter Coordination. A customized cover letter is your first shot to convince an employer that you are the right candidate for the position. Your resume should be tailored to support the case you make in the cover letter, creating a strong and consistent story for prospective employers.