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Customize Your Ride (Resume)!!!

imageJob Seekers often hear that they should tailor, modify, or customize their resume for each job opportunity they pursue. However, very few ever do.

Is it really worth all the trouble? Will it make a difference?

I don't want to misrepresent my experience!

Isn't it "gaming" the system?

I have all my experience on there, they can find what they need!

I spent weeks getting my resume perfect, I don't want to change it now!

These objections, and more, are what I hear when people tell me they don't do it. So… is it really worth the time and the effort? YES!

Here's why, and how to do it well…

You only get a peek! When you submit a resume for a position, generally they only give it a peek… well OK, more than a peek, but not much more. Generally, if someone looks at your resume at all, they will scan it for only 15 to 30 seconds before they make a decision to pursue you further or not. They have a lot of resumes to get through and don't have time to dawdle. You can get a better understanding of the process by reading: "The job application process… and how to break through!"

Dot – Dot – Dot! If, in that quick scan, they cannot easily connect the dots between your experience and the requirements… they simply won't follow up! They have plenty of other resumes to consider and are trying to get the pile down to only a few. They are more than happy to be able to disqualify yours rather than have to work to see the connection.

Generics won't cut it! It's impossible to write one generic resume that represents you most effectively for a variety of positions that you might apply to. If you don't help them easily see the specific experience you have related to their open position, they will simply say "NEXT"!

So… how do you tailor it? Do you need to re-write your whole resume each time?

Of course not… here are some ideas…

Use their words, not yours! Read the job description closely and make sure to use their terminology in your resume as much as possible. If, in your last position, your title was a "Senior Business Analyst" even though your responsibilities were of a "Project Manager" (very common), be sure when you apply to "Project Manager" roles, you use the words "Project Manager" prominently in your resume. If they use the same software that you used, but they call it something else, make sure you use their name for it in your resume as well. Make it easy for them to see the match.  Furthermore…

Make it scream! Use bold fonts to emphasize the specific matching requirements from their job description. If the job requirement includes PL/SQL programming for Oracle applications you could have:

- 5 years experience developing Oracle Applications using Oracle Discoverer, PL/SQL, and other tools.

Or you could have:

-5 years experience developing Oracle Applications using Oracle Discoverer, PL/SQL, and other tools.

In a quick scan, which will likely help the reader see the match more easily???

Shuffle the deck! Typically, a resume may have several bullet points under each job heading, listing the specific responsibilities and accomplishments you've had. It's easy to rationalize that your most relevant experience is on the resume. However, if it's listed as the 4th bullet point out of 7 it's simply not likely to get noticed. When scanning a resume, the reader will look most closely at the first couple of bullet points and barely glance at the rest. Make sure your most relevant bullet points are at the top of the list!  Furthermore, keep additional bullet points handy! You may only use 4 or 5 in each resume, but it may be a different 4 or 5 depending on the specific requirements of the position you are pursuing. Use the ones that are most relevant to the job you are applying to.

You certainly never want to misrepresent your experience or primary responsibilities. If someone sees multiple versions of your resume, they should never get a sense that you were deceiving them. However, you certainly do want them to quickly and easily see the most applicable skills and experience you have related to the open position. Don't make them have to search for it! It's up to you to make it as obvious as you can.

Take the time to Customize Your Ride for each job application and you'll start seeing better results!


Susan Ireland said...

I completely agree with this advice! You should customize your resume for each application (or at least review your resume carefully to see if there's a way to make it more closely fit the job posting).

This is marketing! If you know you're a good match for the job you seek, then use your resume as a smart marketing tool to get your foot in the door for that job.

Magaline Harvey said...

I am in total agreement as well. As a matter of fact even if your job title in past positions wasn't considered attractive enough or comprehensive of your duties customizing your resume can be a reflection of those skills. Don't take for granted to over achievements accomplished or the looked over skills you gained in past positions. Highlight them and toot your horn. Show you are worthy of a promotion this is probably why you are out there. To get out the box and act in spite of fear.

Go for credentialing if needed to validate your expertise.

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Executive Resume Writer said...

Hello Harry,
I love the title: Customize Your Ride (Resume) !!! That conjures up so many vital images ... and really illustrates what a resume is -- a high-performing career machine!

So many good points you make. For example, Dot-Dot-Dot. Yes, yes, yes - connect those dots FOR the employer, Never EVER make them work to figure how you fit into their environment, how YOU can solve their problems. As you assert: "They are more than happy to be able to disqualify yours rather than have to work to see the connection."

Generics Won't Cut It: Aw, another spot-on point. What I hear you saying is that a tailored resume is the only way to go, and that, if applying to related, but slightly nuanced roles, then adjust the language to 'talk their talk.' I like the Business Analyst vs. Project Manager example.

The 2 cents I would add: if a job seeker has seriously researched their target audience and winnowed out their unique value proposition assertions and how they directly wrap around a target audience's needs, then very little (or limited) tweaking/adjusting of language/rearranging of bullets, etc. should be needed.

That said, with the nimbleness and user-friendliness of Word software, there is no reason that a candidate should 'not' be assessing the nuances of each resume before handing off to a potential recruiter or hiring decision-maker. Your how-tos for ensuring a tailored fit each time are pragmatic.

Thank you for this invigorating post, a vehicle that transports job seeker resumes to the next level!


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