Congratulations! You have documented all your skills, work experience and education in a single document headlined by your name in large bold letters. You have a complete, professionally written and presented resume.
As your first introduction to recruiters, your resume is the most important document used during your job search. So, having a completed resume is vital when it comes to your budding career. Yet, it is not everything.
A mistake people often make during the job application process is using the same resume for each position they apply to. By doing this, they are missing out on an opportunity to maximize the chances of their resume getting noticed by recruiters.
Why is this? It is because many people do not understand that a completed resume is not always the best resume. Rather, the best resume, one that increases your chances of getting to that next step in the hiring process, is a targeted resume.
In fact, your resume should be tailored to each job you apply for. This may sound like a lot of work, but it is simple. By making some key changes to your completed resume using a job posting and the three questions outlined below, you can significantly increase your chances of success.
Targeting Your Resume: Three Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Applying
Although it is important to keep an up to date resume that thoroughly details your career history, it is only the first step in getting your resume ready for the job application process. The second step is customizing your resume for a specific job. Considering the average recruiter reviews each resume for only six seconds, it is vital to target your resume for each position you apply to. You can do so by thoroughly reading the job posting for a specific position and then asking yourself the following questions about your resume.
Question 1: Are You Filling the Gap?
The professional profile is the first block of text on your resume and the updated version of the outdated objective statement. The main difference between a professional profile and objective statement is that while the objective used to tell recruiters what type of position a candidate was looking for, a professional profile now tells recruiters what a candidate has to offer.
Identify the Gap
In order to write an effective professional profile that targets a specific job, it is important to read the job posting to identify what gap the company needs the candidate to fill through that position. If an advertising company is looking for an administrative assistant, the gap they are looking to fill is likely one that requires organization, communication and efficiency. These skills are likely to be mentioned more than once in the job posting.
Fill the Gap
When the gap has been identified, the professional profile should then mention the experience and skills you possess that are required to fill it. For example, a candidate applying for the administrative position at the advertising agency might start their professional profile with, “Dedicated professional with a successful record using organization, communication and efficiency to optimize operations in target-driven environments.”
Keep it Brief
The professional profile is the first block of information the recruiter will see when briefly glancing at your resume and is only a few sentences long. Don’t worry. This information can be elaborated on later in your resume, which the recruiter will review more thoroughly further along in the hiring process if you have successfully managed to convince them that you can fill the gap in those first six seconds.
Question 2: Are You Using the Keywords
Automated Systems and Keywords
Many companies use automated systems to filter through resumes for keywords that match the language used in job postings. Often, the only resumes considered by recruiters are the ones that rank highly after they have been filtered. So, the more words your resume includes that match the words used in the job posting, the more likely your resume is to be seen by recruiters.
A job posting usually lists the responsibilities, skills and requirements a company is looking for in an ideal candidate. The easiest way to incorporate keys words from the job posting into your resume is by using the skills section in each document. However, you can also use information from the responsibilities and requirements sections in the job posting in other sections of your resume.
Go through the list of skills in the job posting and make a list of the ones that you possess, as demonstrated by your experience on your resume. You want to the then write those skills, exactly as they appear in the job posting, in the skills section of your resume. The automated filtering systems used by companies to filter through resumes will only recognize these skills as keywords if the spelling in the job posting and on your resume matches. For example, if you have listed Microsoft Word as one of your computer skills but the job posting lists it as MS Word, change the spelling to match the job posting.
Read the responsibilities mentioned in the job posting and take note of the ones that are the same as or similar to responsibilities you have had in your work, education or other career-related history. Ensure all of this information is included in your resume in the appropriate section. You want to use phrases and words that are the same as the language used in the job posting. However, make sure not to copy entire sentences from the job posting onto your resume, as this is plagiarism.
Lastly, review the requirements section of the job posting, which usually lists the education and experience requirements. Once again, identify the requirements you meet and ensure to write them on your resume that same way they appear in the job posting. One of the requirements could be a Bachelor of Business Administration but your resume could currently have it written using the short form B.B.A. Something as simple as changing the form to match the one used in the job posting could greatly increase the chances of your resume passing the automated system.
Question 3: Are You Optimizing the Information?
Before submitting your resume, optimize the information included by viewing it from a recruiter’s perspective. The recruiter’s job is to ensure the candidates considered for the job will be able to perform optimally in that vacant position. You want to make the recruiter’s job as easy as possible, as it will increase your chances of moving forward in the hiring process. You can do this by reviewing your resume for relevance and organization.
Part of optimizing the information on your resume requires you to ensure all the information included is relevant to the position you are trying to secure. You can take this opportunity to read through the job posting and your resume to make sure all sections included speak to how your career history makes you a good candidate for the position you are hoping to fill.
For example, let’s consider a candidate with work experience babysitting and volunteer experience holding bake sales for a charity. If this candidate was applying for a position at a daycare, they would optimize their resume by elaborating on their babysitting experience and by limiting or removing their volunteer experience with bake sales. However, if this same candidate were applying to a sales position, the bake sale experience would be highlighted whereas the babysitting experience would be limited or eliminated.
Now that you have considered the relevance of all the information on your resume, you can further optimize it for the position you are applying to by considering the order in which you display this information. Do this by placing the sections that show you are a strong candidate first while placing the less compelling sections later on your resume. Remember, your name, contact information and professional profile always come first.
For example, a newly graduated engineering student with a work history as a concessions attendant at a movie theatre would probably list their education before their work experience when trying to secure their first job in the engineering field. If the student also did internships in their desired field, an internship section should also be placed before the work experience section.