Customizing your resume to each job is an important way to bring out your match to the position and the company’s needs. It takes time and thoughtfulness to rework your resume each time you learn of an open position. Here is a step-by-step guide to make it easier.
Understand the job
List out everything you know about the requirements of the job and what company is looking for. Sources for this information include:
- The job description
- What you learn from researching the job and company
- Industry expectations for the job, such as things a person with this title are normally responsible for that may not have been stated in the job description
- Insider information from those in the company or elsewhere
- Competitive information about the industry and the company including current challenges
Group together the needs and desires of the company into categories. For example there may be specific technologies required, there may be soft skills such as “team player” and there may be required background such as years of experience or expertise in a domain.
Create a list of keywords for this position. These are words a hiring manager or recruiter is likely to include in a search for good matches.
Examine each area of your resume.
Rewrite or eliminate anything in your resume that does not relate directly to your list of what the company is looking for.
- If you have a summary at the beginning of your resume, it should explicitly bring out your proven ability to do exactly what this company needs done
- Your past job experience should elaborate on achievements and successes that speak to your ability to do the new job well
- If you have experience that appears unrelated, find a way to bring out the relationship or eliminate it. For example, a former barista applying for a job as an office manager removed her expertise in coffee making and focused instead on her ability to multi-task, work with a variety of people and manage inventory, all requirements of the office manager position.
- In your education section list majors and specialties if they are relevant to the job
- Eliminate any associations, memberships and personal information that is not relevant to the job
- Every single item on the resume should relate directly to what you know about the job opportunity
Look for gaps
After rewriting your resume, compare it to your list of job needs, requirements and keywords.
- Make sure you have demonstrated your ability to meet every requirement and need
- Every keyword should be included somewhere in your resume, preferably near the beginning
The customizing process is important to your success. It’s also important to double check your work after the process. When you are done customizing, go back over your resume and polish out any rough spots and fix mistakes. For best results, have a friend proof read.
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