Updating Your Resume for the Position You Want

Nancy Anderson
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A common mistake many job seekers make is creating a generic resume to send out to dozens of employers. Unfortunately, hiring managers can spot a canned template from miles away and aren't likely to give your resume a second glance if it's not customized to the position and company you're applying to. Follow these tips to create a dynamic, tailored resume that increases your chances of getting an interview.

Start With a Template

There is no need to reinvent the wheel each time you apply for a job. To give yourself a head start, create a base resume template centered around your qualifications and experience. Include all of your work history and skills here; don't worry if it goes over one page. The point is to list everything you've got, and then edit later. Every time you apply for a new job, you can remove irrelevant content, edit what's left and save the finished document as a new file.

Study the Job Description

Take the guesswork out of customizing your resume by looking to the job description for clues. Here, the company lays out the exact experience, qualifications and even personality traits it is looking for in a candidate. The person who reads your resume is likely to compare it to the job description, and the better it matches, the more likely it is that you'll be called for an interview.

Use Keywords

Many companies use applicant tracking software to sift through hordes of resumes and narrow the candidate pool. In order for your resume to make it past the initial screening, it must contain the same keywords found in the job posting. Go back to the post and pull out the most emphasized words and phrases related to work experience, education, skills and responsibilities. Use these same words and phrases throughout your resume in the relevant sections. Whether a computer or a human reads your resume, using the right keywords helps illustrate a strong connection between the company's needs and your qualifications.

Remove Irrelevant Information

Now that your resume is full of relevant information from the job description, it is time to pare it down by removing qualifications that don't add value. Hiring managers are unlikely to see the valuable experience you have if they have to read through a bunch of irrelevant information to get to it. For example, your experience with Microsoft Excel is not likely to win you any extra points if you're applying to be a graphic designer. This editing process for each application may seem time-consuming, but it's totally worthwhile to include only the strongest and most relevant information if you want to craft a powerful, targeted resume that gets results.

Customizing your resume for each job you apply for is an effective way to capture the attention of hiring managers. Remember, companies only care about the skills and qualifications that are relevant to their needs; it is up to you to illustrate the connection between what they need and what you can provide.

Photo courtesy of bm_adverts at Flickr.com


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Jacqueline G. thanks for your comment. Unfortunately resumes have changed in the past 30 years. We no longer create a general resume to have on hand because resumes are now written based upon a job posting and the keywords contained in that posting. The rule of thumb is to only include the past 10 years worth of accomplishments. You can probably do up a "general" resume for a quick overview but, if you are truly looking for a position, you are going to have to create a resume that fits the job posting. Keep it short and simple - one page in length. If you worked in different positions but did many of the same tasks, only include those tasks once. Bullet points seem to garner the most attention. Quantifiable and measurable are the two things to keep in mind when writing up a task. Such as saved the company $100,000 per year by creating XYZ. Hope that helped.

  • Jacqueline G.
    Jacqueline G.

    Just retired after working for the state for 30 years. I want a resume to have on hand but don't have a particular job that I'm applying for. How can I make my resume generally appealing

  • Betty B.
    Betty B.

    Great information about resumes. I will use the information and update my resume.

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