3 Keys to Customizing Your ResumeBy Jessica Holbrook Hernandez
In recent blogs, I’ve written a lot about the importance of investing time into every job application you submit, even if this means applying for fewer total jobs. While it’s most efficient to get your resume fine-tuned to a point where it needs little modification for each new job application, you generally will need to make a few changes each time in order to customize your document.
Utilize proper language
The first rule of customization is to ensure that your resume contains the same language found in the job advertisement. Many companies use junior human resources staff as the first reviewers for the resumes they receive. Since the HR staff typically knows a lot about HR and less about the business of their company, they often look to match your resume with the keywords used in the job ad. This is why it’s important to customize your resume for an untrained eye; generally, the first person (or software program) looking it over is not discerning enough to know what you mean unless you use the exact same language.
Resume keyword optimization
For a job seeker who is looking at several different industries, matching keywords can be the most time consuming part of the process. For instance, someone with a background in nonprofit development may be looking at various nonprofit positions as well as opportunities in sales. Although both jobs essentially involve bringing in money for the employer, the nonprofit industry talks about “fund-raising” while the sales industry talks about “market share”. In order to save herself the hassle of changing the language of her resume every time she applies for a job, this job seeker would want to design both a standard nonprofit resume and a sales resume as the basic documents to work from for either type of job.
Important details first
Another way to customize your resume for a specific job opening is to construct the various sections of your resume in the same order as the items listed in the ad. For instance, if an advertisement says, “Seeking licensed master’s level social worker for clinical supervisor”, then your resume should display your academic degrees and social work license near the top. Employers generally use their ads to tell you what they’re looking for, so don’t make it hard for them to find it!
As you start or continue your job search process, keep a standard resume on hand for each industry in which you’re looking, and adjust the keywords and section order as needed. Employers will appreciate it!