Do you tailor your resume to suit every job you are applying for? If not, this is the kick in the backside you have been waiting for. If you aren’t tailoring your job applications and are instead, sending out the same, tired resume and cover letter in response to every job advertisement you see, I want you to stop. Sure, with this method, you might eventually get a job. But, will it be the job you really want?
By tailoring your application to suit the job you are applying for, above all, you are showing your potential employer that you understand their role. You're showing that you know what they are looking for and you have given some serious thought as to why you are the most suitable candidate. This is a powerful approach, because it is specific, considerate and genuine. Let me share an analogy with you.
Imagine you are getting feedback from your supervisor about your work.
Which of these statements would you prefer?
“Great job Andrea! Thanks for your work!”
“Thanks Andrea. The way you prepared that report showed that you really understood our target market and the challenges they face. The images you chose to support your point were also really influential, as they will help our clients relate to our core message. You did a great job and feedback from the Board of Directors has been extremely positive.”
Otherwise, think about some of the cards, or Facebook messages you might receive on your birthday.
“Happy Birthday Sally! <insert cake emoji>”
“Hey Sally, I hope you are having an amazing birthday! I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to celebrate with you, but I’ll be having a martini in your honour. See you soon, babe! X”
See how the second messages are both far more personalised and engaging? The same goes for your resume. So, which message would you prefer to be putting out to potential employers? The basic, “it’s the thought that counts” message? Or the one that is tailored, targeted and specific?
If you have chosen the second option, here are a few tips:
1. TAILOR YOUR RESUME EVERY SINGLE TIME
Firstly, I just want to reiterate that you should tailor your resume, every single time you apply for a job. Even if you only need to make a couple of minor changes, your job application process should include a full read through of your resume and editing to ensure that it accurately responds to the job advertisement.
Every role you apply for is different, and you should treat it this way, without reservation. Believe me. Recruiters and employers alike, can generally tell when you are regurgitating the same pitch over and over. And it is not a good look. To make a far better first impression on your potential employer, take the time to demonstrate that you understand what they are looking for in their ideal candidate. Then spell out how that ideal candidate is you!
If you aren't tailoring your resume for each job you apply for, you are probably missing the mark.
2. USE THE SAME LANGUAGE and key words that are in the advertisement
Now it’s time to go back to the advertisement and look at the language they have used when describing the role and their ideal candidate. The best way to do this is to print out a copy of the advertisement and/or position description. Grab a highlighter and start marking the key words. Key words will be scattered throughout the advertisement, but you specifically want to look for the parts where they describe the role, the duties and the requirements to be a successful candidate.
Once you have highlighted the key words, go back through the advertisement and position description a second time. This time, mark any of the key words that are relevant to you. Here’s an example. If the role you are applying for is for an Office Manager in a medical practice, and the advertisement states they are looking for a candidate with experience managing government rebates, you would have highlighted this as a key word (or phrase in this instance). If you have experience managing government rebates in a medical practice, you would mark this a second time.
Now you have a list of the keywords that are relevant to your experience.
When you have completed the second round of marking, you will have a final list of keywords that you need to include in your resume. You should do your best to include all of these key words. This is a great way to tailor your resume to the job you're applying for. It not only makes it extremely clear for employers and recruiters who are reading your resume. It also makes sure your resume will get picked up if the employer is using an applicant tracking system (ATS) or keyword searches to identify candidates for shortlist.
When including keywords in your resume, you don’t want to just chuck them in willy-nilly, or stack them on top of each other in a spammy way. Take the time to think carefully about how you can include these key words in your professional profile, key skills, qualifications, work experience and achievements sections.
3. highlight achievements that demonstrate how you can do the job
You’ve probably achieved lots of things in your career. It can be tempting to include all the details in your resume. But when you tailor your resume to suit a specific job, the key is to think about the particular achievements that are relevant and demonstrate that you are suitable for the role.
You don’t have a lot of space in your resume to provide intimate details of your achievements, but you should provide details where possible. If you were responsible for managing a budget and you did so successfully, say how much the budget was. If you had certain KPIs, make note of what the KPIs were. You want to quantify your results as much as possible. This will help to make them more persuasive. You can then go into more detail about your relevant achievements in your cover letter.
4. DON'T include irrelevant information
One of the final things to do when you tailor your resume, is to make sure you aren’t including any irrelevant information. Some details that may be selling points for some roles, are immaterial for other roles. For this reason, you should do a final check over your resume to make sure that you haven’t unwittingly included something that isn’t needed.
You might have heard me mention before that your resume is valuable real estate. You have limited space to sell yourself. So, even one line of irrelevant information could be taking the place of a more valuable point. A valuable point that could be the difference between you winning your dream job, and not. For every piece of information in your resume, you should ask yourself the question, “Will this help convince my potential employer than I am the most suitable candidate for this job”. If the answer is no, consider removing it and replacing it with something that will.
So, what do you think?
I trust that after reading this post, you’re convinced that you should be tailoring your resume for each and every job you apply for. If you need an extra helping hand, please feel free to get in touch with me. You can view my services here, or contact me through this link. I hope to talk to you soon.