Prospective employees might think that applying to jobs in high quantity as quickly as possible is the fastest way to land a new job, but the quality of each application speaks volumes. Hiring managers don’t want to see a generic resume—they want to see how your experience and skill set apply to their specific job. However, tweaking your resume for individual jobs, especially if you’re applying for several positions at once, can be trickier and more time-consuming than it sounds. We’ve compiled a list of our five most helpful tips for quick, effective resume fine-tuning:
- Create a “Master Resume.” It’s always a good idea to keep an up-to-date list of accomplishments on hand to use as a base structure for your resume. Although you won’t send your master resume to anyone, you’ll want to present your skills and contributions in polished, specific language. That way, when you are applying for a job, you can quickly and easily identify your relevant experience without having to think back or rephrase.
- Research the company you want to work for. Once you’ve got your master resume, do some research about the company and position for which you are applying. Study its website for clues—is the company more leadership focused, or team-oriented? Do they value diversity? What do they value more, innovative thinking or consistency? Is community service a company value? What client issue(s) does this company resolve? Studying the company website will give you a general sense of company culture that you can’t get from a job description. This will help you to figure out what skills and experience to include in your resume.
- Put your best foot forward quickly and clearly. Create a heading for your resume with the job title you are applying for, and save the file under your full name and the position title you’re applying for. This makes the recruiter or hiring manager’s job a whole lot easier—and that’s good news for both of you.
- Cut out irrelevant experience—and present relevant experience in a logical order. The more irrelevant experience you provide, the more content a recruiter or employer has to sift through to find the good stuff—and the more likely they are to toss your resume in the “no” pile. If you gained your relevant experience at school, present your education first. If your relevant experience is career-based, list your work experience first.
- Adjust your vocabulary. Recruiters and hiring managers see a flood of resumes every day, and can’t thumb through them all. Rather than read a thick stack of resumes to find contenders for a job opening, they’ll often run a digital search for specific keywords. That means even qualified candidates risk being overlooked if they don’t tailor their vocabulary to include relevant phraseology.
Nobody can capture his or her entire personality and professional knowledge on a single page. That’s what makes adjusting your resume to suit a specific position so important. Recruiters and hiring managers know that the resumes they review belong to multifaceted individuals, but they can’t grant interviews based on faith alone. By adjusting your resume, you show the aspects of yourself that are most valuable in a particular professional situation—and thus show an interest in and an understanding of the position that transcends the standard, boilerplate resume.