In recent blogs, I’ve written a lot about the importance of investing time into every job application you submit, even if this means applying for fewer total jobs. While it’s most efficient to get your resume fine-tuned to a point where it needs little modification for each new job application, you generally will need to make a few changes each time in order to customize your document.
UTILIZE PROPER LANGUAGE
The first rule of customization is to ensure that your resume contains the same language found in the job advertisement. Many companies use junior human resources staff as the first reviewers for the resumes they receive. Since HR staff typically know a lot about HR and less about the business of their company, they often look to match your resume with the keywords used in the job ad. This is why it’s important to customize your resume for an untrained eye; generally, the first person (or software program) looking it over is not discerning enough to know what you mean unless you use the exact same language.
RESUME KEYWORD OPTIMIZATION
For a job seeker who is looking at several different industries, matching keywords can be the most time consuming part of the process. For instance, someone with a background in nonprofit development may be looking at various nonprofit positions as well as opportunities in sales. Although both jobs essentially involve bringing in money for the employer, the nonprofit industry talks about “fund-raising” while the sales industry talks about “market share”. In order to save herself the hassle of changing the language of her resume every time she applies for a job, this job seeker would want to design both a standard nonprofit resume and a sales resume as the basic documents to work from for either type of job.
IMPORTANT DETAILS FIRST
Another way to customize your resume for a specific job opening is to construct the various sections of your resume in the same order as the items listed in the ad. For instance, if an advertisement says, “Seeking licensed master’s level social worker for clinical supervisor”, then your resume should display your academic degrees and social work license near the top. Employers generally use their ads to tell you what they’re looking for—so don’t make it hard for them to find it!
As you start or continue your job search process, keep a standard resume on hand for each industry in which you’re looking, and adjust the keywords and section order as needed. Employers will appreciate it!
Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, speaker and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast. She creates high-impact, best-in-class, resumes and cover letters that transform job searches into interviews and ultimately job offers. For more information about professional resume writing or to read more career and job search related articles visit http://www.greatresumesfast.com or call 1.800.991.5187.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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