One of the cardinal mistakes of job searching is using the same resume for every job application. In a competitive market, a boilerplate resume does nothing to distinguish you from other candidates. A better option is to tailor your resume to the position, making it easier for the employer to understand the value you bring to the organization.
Write a Base Resume
When you tailor your resume to each job opening, you automatically add extra time to the job search. There's no need to start from scratch with each application. Instead, save time by creating a base resume. The resume should include all your work history, qualifications, skills and relevant experience. Don't worry if the base resume is longer than one page; having all your experience in one place makes the editing process easier. After all, it is faster to remove items than it is to create new content. Each time you go to apply to a new position, you can remove items, edit the text as needed and save a new file.
Use Similar Language
Whether you are applying for a position with a large corporation or a small business, it is often beneficial to mimic the language of the job posting. Print out the post, and underline the most important words relating to experience, education, responsibilities and qualifications. Then, tailor your resume to the job by including those words in your resume. If your application goes through a computerized system, the correct keywords can help it pass on to the next level. If it is read by a human reviewer, similar language can create an immediate connection.
Remove Irrelevant Information
Employers scan each professional resume and make a decision about an applicant in a matter of seconds. A resume that is cluttered with irrelevant information makes it difficult for the reviewer to find the important details. Before you send out an application, tailor your resume by taking out any entries that do not strengthen your position as a candidate. If you're applying for a job as a graphic designer, for example, the employer is unlikely to be impressed by your college math commendations. By including powerful, relevant content, you create a clear and comprehensive picture of who you are as a professional.
Edit Job Responsibilities
One of the easiest ways to tailor your resume is to edit the job responsibilities for each entry. Research the company to understand what the employer needs from a successful candidate. Then, include examples from past positions to demonstrate how you can fill those needs. If the company is falling behind competitors because of a poor social media presence, for example, you might highlight how you increased a past employer's Facebook user engagement by 50 percent in six months. Use hard numbers wherever possible to attract attention and create a memorable impression.
Taking the time to tailor your resume to a specific job opening makes the reviewer's job easier; instead of searching through the document to find relevant experience, he or she can see your value immediately. Creating a different professional resume for each application is time-consuming, but the extra effort can pay off in increased interviews and a shorter job search.
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