While it’s tempting to re-use the same resume again and again to streamline the application process and get your resume into as many hands as possible, that tactic is not recommended.
Potential employers want to see that you’ve made an effort to learn about this specific opportunity, and your marketing materials must demonstrate why you’re the perfect fit.
To customize your resume for a specific job, focus on these three things:
You’ll want to match this to the job title you’re applying for. If you’ve described yourself as Senior Business Leader in your resume but this job opening is for a Vice President of Sales, change your headline to match the job posting.
Look at the job description, as well as the company website and social media profiles, to find the language and keywords they use to describe the attributes and hard skills that will determine your successful candidacy.
For an executive role, common keywords might include executive leadership, strategic planning, business reengineering, budget, and P & L (profit and loss).
Use the right industry and corporate jargon. In manufacturing, for example, they often use the term New Product Launch, while in telecom, they might say New Product Introduction, yet both phrases have the same meaning – taking a product to market.
If you’re applying for a government job, you may want to quote some of the job description text verbatim in your achievements statements – we have seen this strategy get positive results. Otherwise, work these keywords skillfully throughout your resume’s keywords section and your STAR story accomplishment statements.
(For more details, read: Choosing the Best ATS Keywords: Is Your Resume Scannable?)
When documenting your career history, strategically position the story or stories that are most relevant to the job you are applying to. Make these your first and strongest bullet points underneath each employer name. Other accomplishments with less relevancy to the job description can be further down on the page.
Remember that even if your resume passes the ATS scan, your human interviewer will do just a 5- to 30-second scan. They won’t read everything, but they will look at the first few lines of each section. Use the STAR story format (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to show your key impact and most important contributions.
You may also want to start each employer section with a one-line snapshot of your responsibilities, such as your number of direct and indirect reports, the budget you managed, or the number of countries in your portfolio. This can say a lot in a very short amount of space.
More tips for customizing your resume
If you’ve had a diverse career, or even changed direction a few times, it is acceptable to leave out anything that really isn’t pertinent to the specific job and industry you are applying to. When you’re condensing your resume for length, these should be the first things to go. Remember, a resume should not exceed three pages in total.
Help your resume stand out from the rest by using bold font to attract the eye to major headings, without making it excessive. Bold font will not impede the electronic scanning process, just don’t use any colours.
To convince a future employer that you’re right for the job, you must tailor your resume for the situation and stand out from your competition on the job market.