Tailoring your resume to align with every job you apply to takes a lot of work. You may think it’s not worth the time and choose to submit a general resume to all the positions you’re interested in.
But hiring managers receive a pile of resumes, and they usually don’t have time to look at each one in-depth and think about how your experience relates to the current position. Instead, they are scanning for specific skills. Some even use sorting software to determine who deserves a second look, which means tailoring your resume is key to making it through the first pass.
Show What a Great Fit You Are for the Job
Adjusting your resume to mirror a job description gives the hiring manager immediate feedback that you are qualified. A tailored resume improves your chances of making the first cut and getting an interview because your resume reflects the precise requirements of the job posting.
Here are six simple steps to tailor your resume quickly, so you can stand out from the crowd.
1. Identify the Job’s Key Qualifications
Once you find a position you want, read through the job description, and identify the qualifications required for the job. You can write down or copy and paste important keywords. These are words or phrases that are emphasized or repeated in the posting.
Next, write down or copy and paste any required qualifications. These may include skills, education, certificates, licenses, training, or years of experience.
Often, employers list required qualifications in order of importance to them, so maintain that order when you make your list. You will want to mention their highest priority qualifications first.
2. Make Sure You Are Using the Best Format
Save a copy of your resume so you aren’t editing the original, and scan it to see how well it currently fits this employer’s needs. How many of the key qualifications are already in the top half of your resume?
If just a couple are missing, you can add those in the experience sections so the hiring manager can see them in a quick scan.
In some cases, the key skills for the position may come from jobs earlier in your career. If your resume is in a chronological format and key qualifications will be listed in the lower half of the page, you may want to adapt your resume format.
You can use a reverse-chronological format, a functional format, or a combination format to put your most relevant skills in the top half of the page. Yes, this takes a little cutting and pasting, but it will ensure that the hiring manager can easily recognize you are a great fit for the role.
3. Update Your Work History with Measurable Results
Your work history section is a great place to show off the skills and qualifications you have that match the job description. Edit the bullet points under each position to align your qualifications with those that are listed in the job description.
For example, if your resume currently says you “think outside the box” with an example, but the job description calls for “creative problem solving,” change it to “creative problem solving” to match the language in the job posting. These two phrases mean the same thing, but by matching the language in the job posting, you immediately highlight this ability for the hiring manager.
Support the skills and qualifications you list with as much quantifiable data as you have. Numbers show trends and impact. They quickly communicate that your efforts made a difference for the company.
For example, if you’re talking about a marketing promotion you started and managed every year, saying “increased sales every year” is less impactful than “increased sales by 15% a year.”
4. Revise Your Summary
If you have a summary section at the top of your resume, use it to highlight the skills and qualifications the employer wants to see. You can also include the job title as it’s listed in the job description.
Keep your summary short and sweet but make it impactful by adapting the language so that it clearly matches the job description.
5. Revise Your Skills Section
If some key skills don’t fit naturally into your experience section, make sure to add them to your skills section. It’s lower down the resume but is also very easy to take in during a quick scan, so it’s a great place to add skills that matter to the employer.
If you have limited space, prioritize the employer’s most wanted skills, and then add any preferred or optional skills. Your skills section doesn’t need to mimic the job description exactly. It can include skills and qualifications not listed in the job description. Just make sure it also includes ones that are important to the employer.
6. Proofread Before You Send
Once you’ve made changes to your resume, you’ll want to review it carefully. Read through to make sure it is free of spelling and grammar errors. Also, do a final check that all the employer’s priority qualifications and skills are now clearly included.
If you have time, it can help to do something else for an hour or so and then come back to the resume. It’s often easier to catch any errors that might be there after some time away.
Tailor Your Resume to Target the Jobs You Want
When you tailor your resume to match a job description, you are more likely to pass through any screening software a company uses or catch the attention of the hiring manager. Use it as a strategy to target the jobs you really want to have. The extra time you take will increase your chances of success in your job search.
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