Customizing Your Resume
December 6, 2016 0

The Professional’s Guide to Customizing Your Resume

Posted by:Tanya Czarnezki onDecember 6, 2016

You’ve invested in a professional resume, or spent a lot of sweat and time writing one yourself. And, if done well, that resume will speak well of you for one specific job opportunity at one specific company. What are you to do if you want to use your resume as an entrée to more than one job?

Well, you could invest more money and pay a professional to customize your career documents for each opportunity you’re interested in. And I certainly recommend that if you can afford it. However, many job seekers are able to customize their own resumes using these tips:

Change the job title: You probably have a job title at the top of your resume: District Sales Manager, VP of Operations, Real Estate Broker, etc. I suggest you modify this title for each position you’re interested in. How do you do that? Take a look at the job posting, if there is one. What do they call the position for which the company is advertising? Use that title on your resume.

If you’re sending your resume as an introduction to the company, then do a bit of research to find out what they call the type of position you’re seeking. Job titles can vary quite a bit from company to company. Search for company job titles using an Internet browser or LinkedIn, ask a friend who works for the company, or simply call the Human Resources department to find out the appropriate job title.

Why is this important? If a human is reading your resume, they like the familiarity of a job title they recognize. They will probably appreciate the fact that you’ve done your homework. And if an applicant tracking system is “reading” your resume, then the job title will likely be one of the keywords it is searching for in considering whether you’re a match for the position. And applicant tracking systems love their keywords.

Modify the Summary section: Just below the job title is what resume writers commonly call the “Summary” section, because it is – Surprise! – a summary of the relevant skills, expertise, and accomplishments you bring to the table.

It’s time to do a bit of detective work once again. Refer back to the job posting and note the kinds of qualifications for which the employer is looking. For example, take a look at this posting for an Inventory Control Manager: “This role will lead a team driving production planning and inventory management at the site. We need a proven supply chain professional with strong abilities in people management, training, project management, and project planning. This is an excellent role for someone who enjoys multi-tasking through a variety of responsibilities.”

Scanning this posting gives you many keywords that you can incorporate into the Summary section of your resume (and even into the wording of what you’ve done in your previous jobs, if you’d like). Here are some of the keywords used: production planning, inventory management, supply chain, people management, training, project management, project planning, and multi-tasking.

If the target of your original resume is very close to the new position you’d like to apply for, you may not have to modify your Summary section very much. It’s possible you’ll just be interchanging some text for words with a nearly identical meaning. But using keywords that match the job posting is very important.

If you’re not responding to an ad for a posted job, then you’ll need to dig a little deeper. See if you can find cached or previous job postings for the position you’re interested in. Search for information about the company and its products or services, and figure out what sorts of things seem to be important to the company overall. For example, service or quality or creative thinking. Alternatively, request an informational interview with someone who works there so that you can get a better feel for the company’s needs and expectations. Then deduce your own keywords from those sources to work into your Summary section.

One caveat: don’t use the keywords if you don’t have the experience or the skills to back them up. Misrepresenting yourself is never a good idea.

Swap out accomplishments: Your resume includes an Experience section that lists your work experience, your responsibilities in each position, and—for well-executed resumes—lists of bulleted accomplishments for each job that speak to how you made a difference to that company. Many job seekers don’t have enough room to list every single thing they were proud of during their time in a previous (or current) position, and keep a list to pull from when targeting their resume for a new opportunity.

So if the company you’d like to work for wants to see a track record of improving profitability, pull out that bullet and swap it in for an accomplishment that is less likely to impress that particular employer.

If you don’t have “spare” accomplishment bullets lying around, then carefully consider whether you’ve overlooked contributions you’ve made in your previous positions that would show just how capable you are of meeting the new job’s requirements.

Using these tips, you can do a fair job of customizing your resume for each position you’re interested in. And that, my friends, is the key to appearing to be a great fit for your future employer.

Kristin S. Johnson
CARW, CCMC, CJSS, COPNS, CG3C, 360Reach Analyst
Profession Direction Career Services, LLC

Kristin is a TORI award-winning, 7-times certified resume writer, job search coach, and social media consultant. Her approach is cutting-edge, creative, and kind. As owner of Profession Direction, LLC, she works with professionals and aspiring executives across the country. Her clients enjoy the reassurance of having professionally-written, SEO-optimized documents. They find clarity and direction in their job search, feel at ease with social media and in-person networking, and earn more income faster. She would love to help you “Target Your Success Today!”

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