If you could choose between a beautifully tailored outfit designed to fulfil all of your wildest fashion dreams or a ready-to-wear baggy tee from some random retailer, which would you pick? That’s a rhetorical question. You’d obviously want that tailored outfit. Did I mention it comes with bespoke pockets? Well, it does.
In the age of personalization, we want everything to be made to fit us. So, why would we expect a hiring manager to want anything different when they get a stack of resumes in response to a job offer? See here’s the rub. Whenever a hiring manager posts a job offer, they receive 250+ other resumes on average in response. From that pile, they need to find the one diamond that shines brighter than all the others.
How can you expect your resume to shine bright like a diamond (yes, I just quoted Rihanna) if you send in a generic resume that you didn’t tailor to the job offer? You can’t. Plain and simple. I know, you probably think that tailoring a resume is a difficult and time-consuming process. Here’s what I have to say to you – no, no it is not. Not if you make a good use of the infographic by Uptowork – Your Resume Builder below and use the following tips:
Starting off on the right foot: a master resume
You probably don’t realize it, but there’s a good chance you already have the makings of a master resume. Do you have a working resume that you want to revamp? That’s almost the same thing as a master resume. All you need to do is add all of your work experience, skills, and information. Everything. Once you’ve done that, you have a document from which you can pick and choose the most relevant skills and experience for your tailored resume. Having everything in one place, to begin with, will make things easier when you start to tailor your new resume.
Here’s what recruiters really want to see
Because hiring managers get flooded with so many resumes, they will only spend an average of six seconds scanning each one for relevance. So, what is it that they are they trying to find? Keywords. They are scanning your resume to find the skills and experience they asked for in the job description. So, where is the best place to start looking for those keywords? That’s right! In the job description.
Grab your highlighter or trusty pen and mark all of the skills and required experience you can find. If you are applying for a job online, adding keywords to your resume is even more crucial. When you send a resume through an online application, it is likely that it will go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). That means that your resume is going to be read by R2D2 first. The program is designed to scan your resume for keywords that match those from the job description. If your resume is a good match, it will go higher on the recruiter’s list of relevant resumes, and that’s where you want to be.
Do keep in mind that these systems are sophisticated enough to know if you’ve used the keyword within a proper context or if you’ve simply stacked your resume full of keyword gibberish.
So, what do you do once you’ve found all of the keywords?
4 tips for tailoring your resume
Now that you have a list of skills recruiters want, and a master resume full of skills that you have, it’s time to match them. I’d like to bring to your attention the fact that skills can fall under a few different categories:
These are the skills that are mandatory for you to have to do the job. In that respect, most of the skills on the job description will fall under this category.
These are key skills that you can take with you from one job to another. There will probably be quite a few transferable skills listed in the job description as well.
Example: Microsoft excel
These are skills that you carry with you for survival. Often, they are skills that you develop on your own and use in regular, everyday life.
Have a look at the job description and try to find the job-related skills first. What skills can you find that you must have? Your resume should include all of the job-related skills that you have that match those required in the job description. You should write them in as close to the top of your resume as possible, and they should be first in line in your skills section.
To draw attention to the skills you find most important or relevant, you should demonstrate how you’ve used these skills in the past. Use numbers and achievements to illustrate your use of these skills. Using facts and figures has two benefits. First, it draws the eye of the recruiter, making it easier for the recruiter to locate skills on your resume. Second, it allows the recruiter to imagine that you will provide them with the same results.
Here’s how it works:
Instead of writing: “Management Skills”
Write: “Management of Large Teams (100+ people)”
For your experience section, instead of writing: “Responsible for increasing sales and retaining customers.”
Write: “Increased quarterly sales by 10% over the course of two years, and increased customer retention by managing the launch of a new customer loyalty scheme in 2014.”
Now, look at the remaining skills and find those that are transferable.
These are the “nice to have skills” that are easy for you to have, as they are usually picked up in past jobs. If you have any of them, add them to your experience and skills section where relevant.
Microsoft Excel should simply go in your skills section.
Remember to add details:
Microsoft Excel (proficient with macros and pivot tables)
Transferable skills that you feel strongly about can go in your experience section. You can also add other valuable transferable skills that you have that the job offer did not mention. Transferable skills are always relevant.
You can add adaptive skills throughout your resume to describe yourself. For example, you can start your resume summary off with an adaptive skill as an introductory adjective.
Highly Ambitious Marketing Manager
Detail-oriented Sales Associate
Now, don’t trip at the finish line: tailor your cover letter
You need to tailor your cover letter to the job description as well. Yes, you still need a cover letter. And in most cases, recruiters will scan them in the same way they will scan your resume. They will look for keywords from the job description. So, add them where relevant.
One more quick trick for you…
Here’s a nice trick – drop your resume into a cloud generator. It will help you physically see whether or not you’ve done a thorough job tailoring your resume. That’s because you will be able to see which words are most prominent. If the words that appear are not skills or keywords, reconsider a brief rewrite to make these words show up more often across your resume.
After using a cloud generator, go to Jobscan. Here you will be able to drop both your resume and your job offer into an ATS simulator. Jobscan will show you if your resume can make it through ATS, plus it will show you how well you tailored your resume. So, it’s a win-win even if you don’t need to get your resume through ATS.
Resume tailoring is by far one of the most important things you can do to show a recruiter that you care and that you are the person who is most fit for the job. And you should be tailoring every resume you send in response to every job offer every time. I can’t stress that enough. While it may seem like common sense, the steps above should at least streamline the process for you. Happy tailoring!
About the author: Natalie Severt is a writer for Uptowork, the resume builders.