Updated: Jan 21
As a resume writer, I get asked how important it is to change your resume each time you apply for a new position. The answer is this step is VERY IMPORTANT!
If resume writing isn't your strength, I can see how this could sound like a daunting task. You might think you have to slave over your keyboard, recreating a new resume from scratch each time you apply for a different position. That sounds exhausting! It would mean every time you prepare to apply for a new position it could take hours to create, edit, and reformat an updated version. The thought of that kind of time investment would also give you a deflated feeling each time you considered applying for another position. Ultimately, you'll apply less and lower the chances of finding the right position. This is the wrong approach.
Minimal Changes with Maximum Impact
You can successfully create a targetted resume with just a few changes to get the maximum impact! Every hiring manager that reads your submitted resume should feel like you're speaking their language and are uniquely qualified for the position they are looking to fill.
You'll do this by prioritizing the information the company is looking for, not by creating a brand new resume from scratch! In past years, resumes were simple lists of your past daily tasks. They were generalized so you could print hundreds of the same resume and make them rain from the rooftops!
In today's job market, generalizing your past experience will get you nowhere. Specifying how closely your skills, qualifications, and accomplishments align with the role increases your marketability.
Here's how you'll create a targeted resume.
Focus on your resume
If you're starting your job search before you've put time and effort into creating a killer resume (or hiring a resume writer to do it for you), stop what you're doing right now! Take an application vacation (stop looking for open positions to apply) and focus your attention on creating your resume and solidifying a career plan!
When you've found a position you're excited about you may get so wrapped up in the urgency of the closing date. You may worry that you won't apply in time or that a better candidate will apply before you. This can slow your ability to brainstorm and remember all the relevant details that demonstrate the value you bring to a company. It can hurt your overall marketability and leave you with a resume that falls flat.
This is why it's important to start by creating a killer resume. This resume should list your past experience in accomplishment statements and focus attention on your successes so that the reader can easily see how well you did your job and also understands the kinds of successes you're capable of duplicating for your new employer.
Here's how to create accomplishment statements. Instead of simply listing your daily assigned tasks, describe how well you did them by giving quantitative measurements that describe your accomplishments in that task.
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By expressing your past work history in accomplishment statements there isn't any reason to change this information each time you apply. Your accomplishments won't change and therefore remain relevant for each role you apply.
Build your brand
The word "branding" in regards to the job search has become somewhat overused. I hear it all the time but in most cases, it's not explained. Your resume shouldn't start with your past work experience. If so, you're missing an opportunity to sell yourself. It's important to answer the questions, "Who are you?" "What are your strengths?" and "What are you known for?" prior to describing your past experience.
It may seem that a person could read your work history and deduct this information for themselves but there are 2 problems with that logic. 1.) Computers are reading your resume and they aren't programmed to deduct anything. 2.) Hiring managers have just a few seconds to scan your resume and may not deduct what you hoped. Instead of hoping, it's best for you to plainly write out this information. The reader will have no problem imagining you in their role if you clearly express how you'll bring your unique combination of skill and ability to the position if hired.
Your branding section should be the first thing the readers see at the top of your resume. This includes your Resume Title, Professional Summary, and Strengths,
Follow the Job Description
Companies go to great lengths to write a job description. Teams of people sit in rooms contemplating the right words to express what this person will do and what skills, qualifications, and experience the right person should have to do this job well. Don't devalue that by disregarding the language they use.
Mimic the language you see on the job description in your branding. This is most important when it comes to the title you give your resume. We know that job titles vary from company to company. For example, if you search for "Marketing Manager" you may find a "Sales and Marketing Manager," "Marketing Campaigns Specialist," or "Marketing Strategy Consultant." If your current employer has given you a job title that is comparable to the position you're applying for but isn't identical, it's important that you title your resume to coordinate with the position you are applying for without overshooting.
Pay close attention to the importance of the information provided in the job description. Words like "Required" and "Preferred" can give you a clue. If a job description explains that the bulk of a position will be spent in a certain function be sure to express your past experience, accomplishments, and capability with that function early on in your branding.
As you move up in your career, it's expected that you become proud of your accomplishments, but one of the hardest things to do is to focus only on the accomplishments that are relevant to the job description. Your branding section should be your "greatest hits" of experience that connects with the application.
By making minimal changes to your branding section alone you'll maximize the impact your resume makes and increase your marketability. You'll also reduce your application prep time and take the stress out of applying.
BONUS: Organize Your Job Search
Targetting your resume means you'll have a lot of files to store. This might seem overwhelming but here are a few tips to help organize your job search.
Save Each Resume with Your Name, Title, Month, and Year.
Filename: Tramelle Jones - Career Coach Resume - 01 2021
This is important because you'll want to have the resume you applied with on hand during an interview. It's hard to know which one you used if you haven't organized those files.
Use a Job Search Tracker
Create a Spreadsheet that tracks what positions you apply to with what resume, the website, username/password, and any additional info. There is no reason to commit this all to memory.
Now that you're ready to create a targetted resume for every application this enables you to apply often with less stress and a higher possibility that you'll find the perfect position for you!
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