Your resume is a direct reflection of the work that you do. You need to make sure it shows you off in the best ways possible and accurately reflects your job responsibilities. The same goes for a cover letter. While not all businesses require a cover letter anymore, it’s a good way to let your personality and passion show through.
Tailoring your resume and cover letter is extremely important in today’s highly competitive job market. There are two main reasons for this. One, it’s a way to stand out and differentiate yourself from the myriad of other candidates applying. Two, many companies use software to automatically filter resumes, and generic resumes have a far lesser chance of making it through the initial round of screening.
Tailored resumes become even more necessary when you’re applying to a position at a large corporation. Most companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to automatically screen resumes that are set to filter resumes based on keywords. The downside is that if a resume isn’t tailored to a specific job posting, it may not make it through to the hiring manager, regardless of how qualified that candidate may be. The best way to tailor a resume for an ATS is to ensure that words that are used in the job description show up in your resume. Place these words strategically, but not overly so that it seems unnatural.
By tailoring your resume, you’re showing the company that you’ve done your research and understand what they’re looking for. It’s a sign of preparation and attention to detail. The same goes for your cover letter. You can have a base letter than you tailor for each job and/or industry. The bulk of it can stay the same, and you’ll add or move around the most relevant information based on the job description.
While the responsibilities listed on your resume should stay the same, the order in which you list them will change based on the job you’re applying to. Your cover letter will change more drastically than your resume, as that’s the place where you can really emphasize why you’re the best candidate. If possible, incorporate keywords from the job description in both the resume and the cover letter. If a job is looking for a specific skill, write about your abilities in reference to that.
Don’t overlook the impact a cover letter can have. A cover letter is a way to dive deeper into who you are as an employee and shows your personality and passion for the job you’re applying to. Your resume is designed to show off your skills, and your cover letter should show off who you are. Even if a job doesn’t require it, it’s worth including.
Your cover letter is the place to tell your potential next employer why you’re the best person for the job. You can talk about your accomplishments in more detail than just a resume allows. The cover letter is your place to brag a little. Just like your resume, it should be tailored to the specific job you’re applying to. The cover letter holds even more importance when you’re applying to a job in a new field. You can explain how the skills from your current job will translate to the new job, and why you’re looking to make a change.
Most importantly, keep your resume up to date, and don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile too. There’s nothing worse than trying to remember everything you’ve done in a job when you haven’t updated your resume in a few years. Make it a habit to update your resume at least twice a year or when you receive a promotion. This is something you should do whether you’re actively job searching or not. By keeping it up to date, you’re ready for anything that comes your way.