If I had to pick just one piece of advice for job seekers regarding their resume it would have to be to customize their resume for each and every position they apply to. Stop using a general, one size fits all resume. It might be quicker to print out 40 copies of the same resume and mass mail them to a variety of positions but in the long run this approach will only serve to make your job search longer and less effective overall. Your job search will benefit greatly by utilizing a customized resume that targets the specifics of each position.
It is perfectly okay to have a ‘master’ resume; in fact I would highly suggest you create a resume that captures your complete work history and go off of this document to create your customized resumes. It is so much easier to copy and paste the information you need into a new resume than to try and create it from scratch each time.
There are certain areas of your resume that you should focus on when you are customizing your resume. It may not be necessary to rewrite the entire document to customize it; instead just make sure to hit these key sections of your resume.
The first thing on your resume that you are going to want to customize is your title. The title of your resume should clearly communicate the position that you are targeting. If the position is for a Human Resources Director you will not want to title it as a Recruitment Specialist or Employee Relations. If you have experience in human resources but not specifically as a director you may want to be creative and title it as High-Impact Human Resources Professional or Human Resources Leader.
Including a skills and specialties section on a resume has become standard. Customize this section to reflect the skills you have that align with the position requirements. This is the ideal place to get those industry and position specific keywords in there. Keywords make all the difference when companies use applicant tracking systems to determine qualified candidates. Pull keywords directly from the job description. If the position requires experience in supplemental sales then be sure to use the same wording and not just sales.
The final place on your resume that you will want to customize is your professional history. (This is where that master resume will come in handy.) If in your previous position as an Event Coordinator you handled event logistics, managed the budget and also purchased supplies for the company break room you don’t need to include that last task if it doesn’t directly apply to the position you are targeting. It is not necessary to include every duty you performed especially if it has nothing to do with the new position. Keeping your resume focused with relevant information will keep your reader’s attention far longer than the information overload from a resume that includes a profusion of information.
Additionally, if you have a varied career history that includes a number of industries and positions you may want to consider a resume format that brings the most applicable information to the forefront. In these instances you may benefit from a functional resume format.
A customized resume is truly an asset to any job search. Customized doesn’t mean that it has to be completely different for every position; you can easily create a document that looks customized for the position by focusing on a few key areas.
by Megan Koehler