Hunting for a job is hard work. In between researching companies you want to apply to, drafting your application materials, and networking, it can be a huge time suck. So it’s not a surprise that many people try to shave off time and effort where they can — it’s all about working smarter, not harder. But unfortunately, some of the corners people cut don’t just reduce the amount of time they spend searching for a job — they also reduce their chances of actually getting a call back from a recruiter.
Case in point: drafting a one-size-fits-all resume. Once you’ve created a resume that you’re really proud of, it’s tempting to blast it out to all of the jobs you apply to. But doing so is a missed opportunity, says Michele Moore, certified career coach at Ama La Vida.
“Employers are not interested in ‘vanilla’ candidates and genuinely appreciate when applicants take the time to highlight the reasons they are a perfect fit for the position so they can more easily spot these individuals and move them to the next stage of screening,” Moore says. Because of that, “you should absolutely tailor your resume to suit the company, industry, location, and other parameters of the role.”
The good news? You don’t need to completely start from scratch. The most recent final version of your resume can serve as a template — things like your contact info won’t change, but there are a few specific fields you want to customize. Here’s what Moore recommends.
When customizing your resume to a particular opportunity, “this is probably the best place to spend your time, reflecting on the vacancy description and pulling out of it key words and phrases that align with your talents. Then make sure your resume includes these words and phrases,” Moore says.
Not only is this critical in making sure that recruiters and hiring managers know you’re the right person for the role — it’s critical for the computer scanning your resume as well.
“This is particularly important when today’s Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs)use these items to auto-screen applications in the early rounds,” Moore says. “Without including some of these crucial skills, your resume may never even make it to a recruiter or hiring manager.”
Work History / Experience
Experience comes in at a close second for the most important area to update with each company you apply to.
“Similar to [skills], the precious real estate on your resume should be used to hit on only those things that are pertinent to the job description,” Moore says.
Depending on how many different positions you’ve had over the years, you may be able to omit certain jobs entirely if they’re not applicable to the role you’ve got your eyes on. But if you do have to pull from just a handful of prior work experiences, make sure that you highlight how those past positions have prepared you for the one at hand.
“You may be very proud of your banking background, but if you are applying for a position in the hospitality industry, this may not be as relevant as some other areas of your resume. Speak to your strengths and try to link transferable skills when attempting to move from one field or industry to another,” Moore recommends. “For example, in the above instance, speak about how you served clients at the bank in a way that ties into the priorities of a hospitality-based employer.”