You spend hours, days, even weeks creating the perfect resume. You agonize over every detail – the font, the wording, do you center your name or left justify? Do you have enough keywords? Any spelling mistakes? And then finally . . . it’s complete. Or is it? The truth is your resume is never completely finished and should be viewed as a continual work in progress.
What I mean by that is, you don’t want to use the same resume for every position you apply to. You should be tweaking, adjusting, and revising your resume to customize it every time you submit it. I know, you just spent all that time creating your resume and now I’m telling you it needs more work.
Look at it this way, would you wear the same outfit for every occasion, eat the same meal every day, or watch the same movie every Saturday night? Probably not; at least I hope not. Chances are you adjust your outfit to match the occasion, eat what you’re craving, and change your Saturday night movie selection to what you are in the mood for.
The same holds true for your resume. Unless you are applying to the exact same position at the exact same company with the exact same job description you need to change your resume to align with the specifics of the position. This doesn’t mean a major overhaul every time, it just means that you need to be aware of the differences and adjust accordingly. It could be as simple as interjecting a few new keywords, rearranging your content to highlight the qualifications that apply specifically to the position, or changing your resume title to more closely match the position.
The same also holds true for your cover letter. You need to customize it as much as possible. Taking the time to find out whom to address your cover letter to will help you stand out and ensure that it gets to the correct person. Try to avoid the generic and effortless greetings of To Whom it May Concern, or Dear Sir or Madam. Nothing says “I couldn’t be bothered to find out who to send this to” more than that.
If the job posting doesn’t specifically state who to address your resume to, give the company a call and ask where you should direct it. If you are told to send it to Personnel or Human Resources ask if it should go to anyone’s attention. If not, then and only then can you skip the personalized greeting. If you know someone who works at the company you could ask them where it should go and they might be able to give you a manager’s name allowing you to bypass the gatekeepers and get your resume directly into the hands of the decision-maker.
Taking some time to customize your resume and cover letter will pay off and give you an advantage over the candidates that submit the same resume for every position. This attention to detail won’t go unnoticed and may get you one step closer to your new job.
by Megan Koehler