Setting out on a job hunt can be daunting. Depending on how widely you cast your net, you may find hundreds of job opportunities that each have different application requirements. Some jobs have lengthy application forms, cover letter requirements and even skills tests. After completing all of these time-consuming tasks, it can be tempting to send out the same all-purpose resume to save some time. However, this apparent “time-saver” is in fact a deal-breaker. Let’s look at the data: this study revealed that 18 percent of recruiters immediately disregard a resume that isn’t customized to the job.
Before you submit your go-to resume, do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to carefully read through the job description, take note of the keywords used in the requirements and tailor your resume so that recruiters best understand why you’re the ideal candidate for the job. Below are some key items that you should focus on when tailoring your resume.
In an application and resume, every detail matters. One detail that is easily overlooked is the filename for your resume. When you submit your resume, recruiters can see the filename and will take note of any errors. Some common filename mistakes are misspellings, listing an outdated year and forgetting to change the job title. To make sure you avoid these opportunity-killing errors, use one of the tried-and-tested filename formats:
- Ex: Taylor-Jones-Sales-Associate-Resume.pdf
Job listings typically include a section that details all of the requirements necessary for the job. Before customizing the resume, take a few minutes to read these requirements and pull out keywords and skills that are listed. For example, if a listing includes “must be proficient in Adobe Illustrator,” note the words “proficient” and “Adobe Illustrator” and work them into your skills list. For best results, make an effort to include the exact name of every skill on the job listing that’s relevant to you.
Keywords can also be useful when customizing past job responsibilities. Every position has different requirements, so small tweaks to the experience section can make you look like a perfect fit every time. If the job is a management position, scenarios in which you led a team, mentored an intern or coordinated an initiative should be highlighted. In these sections, make sure to include specific outcomes and results.
Everyone has past experience that doesn’t always make the resume. Whether you were a shift manager at a restaurant, a counselor at a summer camp or a professor’s assistant in college, each role, no matter how small, brings valuable experience. When tailoring a resume, make sure to include jobs that show specific experience. For a sales position, showcasing your role as a restaurant shift manager could be beneficial, but your professor’s assistant position would likely be a waste of space.
Thirty-nine percent of hiring managers look at a resume for less than a minute and 23 percent spend less than 30 seconds so the layout of a resume is crucial. The most important sections should have a hierarchy, so make sure to list skills and experience at the top. For most jobs, the skills section should be placed at the top, as 37 percent of recruiters say that listing them first can help you get an interview. For highly technical jobs it can be helpful to list programs, technology and other specific skills first to let the recruiter know you are qualified before reading through your experience.
The job hunt can be long, so sending a generic resume over and over may seem like a good idea. For your best chance at landing interviews, avoid this temptation. For each job application, carefully read the job description and build a resume that is perfectly tailored for the requirements. It may take you 25 minutes or you could be finished in five. Either way, the extra effort will be worth it in the long run.