The career experts all agree. You absolutely need to customize your resume for each and every job that you apply for. Think you can skip this hassle? You can’t. Here’s why:
Machines Are Looking for Keywords
Unless you are applying to a small company, the odds are good that your application will meet its first judgement by a computer. More and more employers are moving towards Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that use algorithms similar to those used by search engines to take that all important first pass on the pool of applications.
Although your resume needs to be written to make sense to people, it is still important to include as many of the specific qualifications listed in the actual job advertisement as you can honestly claim from experience. In addition, relevant job titles, skills, education, certifications or licenses are all ripe for the picking when it comes to ATS searches.
Employers Are Looking for Fit
If you make it through the machine sorting, the next gate you must pass through is the eye of the hiring manager. Sure, they are looking for qualifications that might translate from one job to another. But more importantly, they are looking for those candidates that have the tightest fit to the position itself. And, they are only going to take a few seconds to make a decision about which resumes end up in the trash.
This means that the most relevant information to the exact job you are applying for needs to find its way to the top of your resume to get the recruiter’s attention and hold it. While you may have the same information on several different resumes, the order of the information can always be optimized to each job.
Your Experience Can Tell More Than One Story
It is important to understand that your resume is not just a list of information. It is telling a story about who you are, what you have done to grow professionally, and the overarching direction of your career ambitions.
Of course, the focus that you put on specific elements of your experience as well as the verbiage you use to describe your work and educational experiences, can radically shift the narrative that your resume sells. Ideally, your resume provides the evidence for the arguments that you made in your cover letter, which again, needs to be customized for every job.
If you want to make it to the interview table, customizing your resume is a must. Think about how you can make your resume a concise advertisement for why you are a great fit for the job, whether judged by a computer or a person. Add details that are relevant, delete details that aren’t, and adjust the order so that the most compelling evidence comes first.
Your ultimate goal is to end up with a document that tells the recruiter: “I have been working hard in my career and this position is the exact right fit for where I want to go next.”