Should You Customize Your Resume for Each Job Target?
In a word, "Yes!"
In a word, "Yes!"
Customizing your resume is well worth the effort because it will increase your chances of passing the ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) screening. Furthermore, you will be more attractive to a human reader when your resume is aligned with the requirements of the target job.
If you are not convinced, consider this survey that I found: The Society of Human Resources Managers (SHRM) provided insight in their 2014 survey: “Résumés, Cover Letters, Interviews.” Of the responding HR professionals, 42% said that tailoring a resume to the job is “very important,” and 45% identified it as “important.” That only leaves 13% who rated resume customization as less than important.
If customization is a wise strategy, why don’t more candidates customize their resume for each job target? Many candidates feel it will take too much time. True, it takes a bit of effort, but the reward of an interview is worth it. Don’t worry about the other candidates who elect to keep it simple with a single resume strategy. Their lack of insight plays into your competitive advantage when you adopt a customized resume strategy.
How to Customize
1.) Research the Target Job
Read the job posting and highlight major duties and requirements. If you are aiming at a cold target (no posting), conduct online research to define requirements for your target job. Sources for this information include job sites, such as www.indeed.com or simplyhired.com. Also visit LinkedIn to uncover job postings and to view profiles of candidates who currently hold the job you are seeking.
2.) Identify Your Relevant Skills
Which skills do you have that match the requirements of your target job? If you need to fill gaps, consider tangential skills.
3.) Update Your “Resume” Profile
The “Profile” (AKA “Summary”) is a snapshot of the value you offer based on your target. Align your “Profile” with your target. For example, that might be international experience, success in particular markets, technical expertise, and knowledge of subjects. Share credentials that strengthen your candidacy, such as industry certifications, graduate-level degrees, or prestigious awards.
4.) Update and reformat items in the areas of expertise section
Update your “Areas of Expertise” (or “Core Competencies”) section to communicate the top job skills your target employer requires. This section of your resume is easy to modify. Furthermore, this section is a recruiter favorite because it displays your skills in a concise, quick-to-read manner.
5.) Address Special Situations
If you are returning to work after an extended break or if you are changing careers, you may need to make changes beyond those sections discussed above. It may be beneficial to alter the arrangement of your categories. Consider updating your experience to feature experience that closely relates to your goal. Outside of major career changes, customization is generally limited to the “Profile” and “Areas of Expertise” categories.
If you have questions about your resume, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help you devise a resume strategy.
Tamara Dowling launched SeekingSuccess.com in 2000 and is an award-winning writer who has helped thousands of clients spanning nearly every industry. She’s widely published online and in print as a resume and LinkedIn expert, however, she’s most proud of the personal service that she and her team provide each client.