During the job quest, the most common mistake job seekers make is sending the same resume to more than dozen different jobs.
We all have done it. Sometimes job-seekers think that this approach can even improve our chances of getting the job, since we send the same resume automatically and, by doing so, we apply to more job vacancies. But it's a trap. When you send a resume or a cover letter without addressing the company or without referring to a specific role, it's obvious that you haven't taken your time to adjust them. From recruiter’s perspective, it's immediately a red flag signaling that a lazy, unmotivated candidate wants to come on board - definitely not the impression you want to make.
So how can you efficiently tailor your resume to the job without re-writing it from the scratch?
1. START FROM THE JOB DESCRIPTION.
Understanding the job description is a foundation of a relevant, tailor-made resume.
Therefore, start from reading the job description. Read it 10 times if necessary and read it carefully to be sure you fully understand the key responsibilities and requirements. Of course, it may be hard to understand their expectations, because job descriptions are usually too vague/fluffy/ complicated/____________ (insert your description here).
Bear in mind that job descriptions are in most cases made by Human Resources - not the hiring manager or anyone from the business area himself. For example, if you go through 10 job vacancies published by one company, you’ll notice that they all are pretty much the same. Human Resources have their job ad template and they just need to amend requirements according to information they get from the hiring manager.
The harsh truth is that, in most cases, hiring managers don’t even review a job description. They are focused on their expectations from the candidates. Hence, the information they might share with HR prior to publishing a job ad will mostly be related to desirable previous experience and knowledge (e.g. educational background, years of experience, relevant responsibilities, certificates, and skills).
Therefore, it’s important to read between the lines. To do so you should focus mostly on person specification section as well as first two or three responsibilities in the job description, as they are usually updated. And from the hiring manager’s perspective - they are the most relevant ones.
A helpful trick no. 1:
Focus on person specification and first two or three responsibilities written down in the job description. They are the most relevant for the role.
Through this process, you will not only learn more about the company and the role itself, but you might also notice information you’ve missed while reading the job description for the first time.
Some information might be a bit hidden or we simply don’t pay attention to them, especially when we are driven to find a job and we desperately want to like any job we find online.
In other words, when we read the job description wanting to be the right one for us, we tend to look for things that match rather than understanding company’s expectations objectively. A subjective lens may lead us to applying for too many roles we don’t actually match to and consequently, getting no response or rejections that might discourage us on our job-seeking path.
To prevent this outcome, double-check the requirements to be sure you fit at least to 80% of them. And don’t waste your time on jobs you don’t actually see yourself in.
Focus on making high-quality applications for jobs you really want – those you qualify for and you would enjoy doing in a company you genuinely like.
This approach will definitely decrease the number of jobs you’ll apply for, but at the same time, it will increase the quality of your applications and - consequently - increasing the response rate you’ll get from the recruiters.
Now when you are sure you want to apply for the role, open your resume and let’s start tweaking it.
2. MAKE A KEYWORD-FRIENDLY RESUME.
Have you already heard of ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems)?
ATS are software programs that search for specific skills and keywords in resumes and then automatically pick out the best candidates. They are also known as screening software or resume robots.
You are probably thinking: "What? Resume robots?! Like the job quest wasn’t already hard enough." But keep reading. We can help with that.
If you take into consideration that your resume might be read by a robot which looks for keywords, there is only one logical step you should take – make your resume keywords-friendly. By doing so, you will speak the robot’s language and the robot will become your friend.
On the other hand, even if a recruiter (a real human being) will review your resume, by making a keyword-optimized resume you will both make their job easier and greatly improve your chances of getting shortlisted for the next selection phase.
Of course, you cannot know who will review your resume.
Therefore, it might be comforting to hear that if you have a professionally written resume aligned with all the best resume writing tips you could find on the Internet, it probably already passes both recruiter's and robot's standards.
When it comes to finding relevant keywords, you have already learned them while reading the job description.
They include the following:
Skills (project management, stakeholder management, etc.)
Competencies (presentation skills, communication skills, etc.)
relevant credentials (M.A., B.A., ACCA, CeMAP)
Now try to incorporate them into your resume.
Try to cover them all if you can.
However, if a specific requirement doesn’t apply to you, don’t write it down and keep your fingers crossed they won’t notice it.
What you can do instead is to get creative and find similar and transferable skills or competencies and write them down to show that you fully understand their requirements and that you can still match their expectations.
Furthermore, you can use these keywords everywhere – in your personal statement, description of key responsibilities, skills section and additionally, your cover letter - wherever appropriate. Make it impossible for them to think that you are not a good fit for the role.
A helpful trick no. 2:
Pay attention to keywords used to describe key responsibilities and person specifications.
Include these keywords in your application - wherever possible.
However, be careful. Avoid a simple copy-pasting method.
Don’t just copy entire bullet point list or sentence from the job description and paste it in your CV in the same order. As we’ve mentioned previously, job descriptions can be too vague and usually, they are made to seem appealing to the number of candidates. Including such descriptions in your CV might sound a bit awkward. A better solution is paraphrasing – try to re-write some of the responsibilities and skills described in the job description, by using same keywords.
3. KEEP ONLY RELEVANT INFORMATION AND EMPHASIZE IT.
That doesn’t mean you should delete entirely, especially if that will leave an unexplained gap in your resume.
But you can definitely cut down information about experience older than 10 years. The same applies to information about your work experience during the college. Or information about your grades, hobbies and interests that doesn't any value to your content. A simple rule of thumb is: If it can't be directly linked to your current area of expertise - remove it and save some space for something more valuable. And how to highlight important information?
A simple, but more than effective trick is to reorganize bullet points.
A helpful trick no 3.
Put the most relevant experience on the first and second place in the bullet point lists to smoothly put focus on them and emphasize their importance.
By simply putting the most relevant responsibilities on the first and second place within your job description, you will highlight their importance. And it will be easier for recruiters to immediately spot the relevant information. They don’t even have to read entire description. The first and second bullet point will immediately show them that you have the experience they are looking for.
A simple, but more than effective trick, right?
Additionally, you can put specific keywords in your profile or personal statement to accentuate the relevant information. For example, if they are looking for someone with 5+ years of experience in finance, within one sentence you could describe yourself as 'Financial analyst with more than 5 years of experience in Accounting, Controlling and Audit with advances knowledge of SAP and Navision.' That way you will show them you are everything they are looking for in the very first sentence they’ll read!
If you follow these 3 steps, we guarantee that tailoring your CV to the role will last less than it took you to read entire article. WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO? While you were working on your resume, we prepared something that will take your resume to the next level - Resume Writing Workbook. It is the best step-by-step guide out there that helps you create resume content that wins employers over. It's printable and FREE . Get your copy now and skyrocket your chances of landing the job.
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