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Posted by David Brown, CEO Hays US on Wednesday, Jun 27, 2018
If your job-hunting strategy consists of sending generic cover letters and the same resume to everyone in scattershot fashion, it’s time to sit down and rethink your approach.
Sending out generic applications never helps your cause. You’re wasting your time because recruiters can tell an untailored resume and cover letter straight off. And no matter what position you apply to, a resume without targeted keywords will never rise to the top of the pile. It’s far better to limit yourself to jobs you’re certain you’d be a good fit for, and take the time to tailor and polish a first-rate application.
Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes
Recruiters and employers aren’t just looking for people who fit the basic requirements they list. They’re looking for candidates who embody the best examples of the particular skills and experience the role calls for – or someone nearly ready who can train comfortably in that position. So the closer your resume fits with the culture and characteristics of the company, in combination with your stated skill sets, the better your chances of standing out from the crowd.
Tailoring your resume for every application might sound time-consuming, but it dramatically improves your chances of getting to the top of the pile and securing an interview.
The starting point: your ‘generic’ resume
You should already have a ‘generic’ resume. Your standard setup will include all the basics an employer or recruiter will be interested in: your personal statement; your detailed employment history, complete with list of duties; and your skills and achievements. That base template is your starting point, and your key tool as you progress through your career.
But here’s the thing: You can’t send the generic version of your resume to an employer. Your template setup will never be perfectly attuned to the requirements of a job you’re applying for. Every single time you apply for a job you have to use your template as a starting point, and build on that generic version.
3 ways to tailor your resume
So what’s the best way to tailor your resume to an individual employer’s needs? Here are three ways to update your resume so it reflects the job description, talks about you, and proves you’re qualified for the job.
1. Look for key words and phrases
Every job description contains key words and phrases that speak best to the requirements and needs of the position. Comb through the listing and write the key words and phrases you find on a separate piece of paper. Then group them into the following categories: soft skills, technical abilities, and job experience. Once you’ve figured out what the employer wants and how they’re talking about it, you can incorporate those keywords and phrases into the relevant sections of your our resume: the personal statement, skills, and employment history sections, respectively.
2. Tweak that personal statement
Your personal statement needs to be different for every job you apply to. You have to explain to the reader why you want to work not just in this industry, but with this particular company. Your personal statement also has to mirror the qualities, character, and experience specified by the job description. If you can, it’s also worth fitting the tone of your statement to that of the job description. Doing this grabs the recruiter’s attention and they can pitch you as the perfect fit for the job.
3. Go over your work history
Last, you need to polish your work history. Don’t oversell yourself or fabricate anything – your employment history needs to be accurate – but you can still present yourself in the best light possible while telling the truth. Highlight duties and achievements that come up in the job description, and present relevant experience. This goes a long way to underlining how well suited you are to the role.
By taking the time to tailor your resume for every application, you lower the number of applications you can make in a day. But that’s not a bad thing. By targeting your resume to a specific position and company, you have a much higher chance of getting an interview for a position you actually want. Quality always wins over quantity, so give yourself the best chance of standing out. Not sure how to make your resume as good as it can possibly be? Contact Hays today and let us help you find your dream job.