Even though some online portals have evolved to make it easier than ever for job seekers to apply to jobs, taking steps to customize your resume for each opening remains best practice.
Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you apply for a new position. These simple tips will help you craft a perfectly targeted resume.
6 Tips to Customize a Resume
How can you customize your resume the right way? Here are six tips for tailoring your resume and impressing a potential employer.
1. Customize Your Title
Many professionals resort to creating an objective section at the top of their resume, but this is a resume faux pas. It’s now considered best practice to start out your resume with a title and summary of qualifications that reflect your areas of expertise in some way.
Your resume title will be one of the first things that a prospective employer sees. For them to find you, though, your title needs to be keyword optimized. Thus, include your current job title or the one you’re applying to within the title. Furthermore, this is a chance for you to craft a quick elevator pitch and grab attention. For example, something like “Call center representative with 15 years’ experience, specifically in clinical and IT field” lets the hiring manager know the areas of expertise somebody may have, along with experience.
2. Create a Summary of Qualifications
After your title, include a brief resume summary of qualifications that can be easily tailored by inserting key terms and phrases from the job posting. Is there a particular qualification or responsibility listed in the job advertisement that resonates with you? Include it! You can even go as far as copying the phrase directly to ensure that you hit the right keywords.
If you’re a marketing manager, for example, include the fact that you have said amount of years in marketing management. To amplify your chance of getting an interview, back up each statement in your summary of qualifications with a short, measurable example.
3. Print Out the Job Advertisement
You’ll be surprised at how having a hard copy of the job description can really help you customize your resume. Once printed, read the document closely and highlight every verb you see. When finished, you’ll have a highlighted document with key terms like “managing,” “implementing,” and “analyzing.” Now use a pen to underline all important nouns, such as “marketing campaigns,” “operations teams,” and “budgets.”
These highlighted and underlined words are terms that you need to include in your resume. To make life easier, include a “core skills and competencies” section and mix and match the verbs and nouns by creating a bulleted list.
4. Match Keywords in the Job Description
Now that you have your curated list of important terms, pluck out those and other keywords in the job description and intersperse these throughout a new version of your resume. Why is this absolutely essential to the customization process? The hiring organization’s applicant tracking system will zero in on your resume only if it contains the words and phrases the system has been instructed to look for.
This keyword optimization process is as simple as adding a key phrase from the job posting to your resume and, if possible, offering a brief highlight or accomplishment to quantify your ability to perform the task.
For example: “Provide exceptional ongoing service to customers, as evidenced by two consecutive years of 99 percent customer satisfaction ratings.”
Since you need to do this for every job you apply to, it’s best to keep one generic, updated resume on file that you can add relevant responsibilities to. Remember to save your changes as a new document so that your original, generic version doesn’t get lost.
5. Display Skills Front and Center
Look again at the job description. What skills does the company say are must-haves? Work your magic and move your information around until those exact skills—and the results achieved through application of those skills—are listed first on your resume.
A functional resume that prioritizes skills over work history can help you highlight your relevant skills. This is especially important if you are seeking a new role that isn’t exactly like your last one, and a chronological presentation of your prior experience doesn’t make as much sense (for instance, if you’re changing careers). If you still have some great work history to present, a hybrid resume combines the best of both a chronological and functional resume, giving you the opportunity to spotlight both skills and experience.
6. Remove Irrelevant Experience
If you are lucky enough to have a wealth of work experience and a long career, or have worked in multiple fields, pick and choose the jobs you include in your customized resume. Your first job as a waiter, for instance, may not apply to a potential new role as an engineer—even if it taught you critical transferable skills. Remember, you want the hiring manager to be able to assess, in a few seconds, why you are a natural fit for the job based on your trajectory thus far.
When much of your past work experience feels irrelevant, using a functional resume vs. a chronological resume will enable you to explain all of your skills and wins without honing in on particular jobs.
Successfully Customize Your Resume
It can take numerous job applications before you land your first interview—so anything you can do to get your foot in the door is well worth your time. Customizing your resume to the job is the first step toward convincing the hiring manager that you are exactly who they’re looking for.
If you’re wondering how to customize your resume–or want other resume tips–consider scheduling a personalized resume review session with a FlexJobs career coach.
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