Getting started writing a resume can be daunting. How long should it be, what do you include, how should you format it? To make matters worse, every career advisor out there will tell you that you need to customize it for every job that you apply for. So, if you’re looking for a job, you’re never really done writing, tweaking, and updating your resume.
Well, I’m one of those people who’s going to advise you to constantly tailor your resume for each job application. You really will be much more successful if you do this. So, here is some practical advice on how you can customize your resume for a job you really want to apply for, quickly and easily.
Start at the top.
Your resume title should match the job you are applying for. Period. Anything else looks like you’re applying for the wrong position. If you are applying for a job as a Web Editor, put Web Editor at the top of your resume. If your dream job is to be an HR Manager, that’s the title of your resume.
Then look to your contact information. Obviously, you don’t change your email address or phone number for each job, but you may or may not want to include your mailing address.
In many cases, the closer you live to the workplace, the better you will look to employers. (Here’s a look at why they may have a bias against applicants who live further away.) So, if your home address is within an easy commute to the job, list your address. If it’s a much longer trip in, but you’re willing to do it – or if you are planning to relocate for the job – leave your address off. It can work against you, and the employer doesn’t need it. There is zero chance that they are going to respond to a job application my snail mail.
Optimize your opening statement.
Traditional resumes began with an objective statement about what the applicant was looking for in a job. “Seeking a position that will allow me to use my skills and grow my career…” Something like that.
Realizing that you can better market yourself by highlighting what you have to offer rather than what you are looking for, savvy job seekers have replaced this objective statement with a summary introduction.
Here’s how to do that. Read the job description carefully, and then use the intro space at the top of your resume to highlight your top three to five qualifications that make you a stand out candidate. Some people use this section to list all of their skills. However, creating a laundry list of abilities tends to water down the most relevant skills, and employers will tend to skim past a long list of bullet points.
Here’s a sample:
Experienced Sales Manager with over ten years of increasingly senior roles leading sales strategies for major brands. Demonstrated expertise in crafting and implementing sales plans, improving relationships with customers, and acquiring new clients. Twice awarded top honours as Sales Representative of the Year.
(You can include a more comprehensive list of skills at the bottom of your resume. It is useful to get those keywords in there. For your intro statement, keep it focused on your top selling points.)
Don’t make it overly salesy. Your resume is a marketing document, so you are selling your candidacy, but you still don’t want to come across as overly pushy. Avoid superlative adjectives like saying you are “the best,” “superior,” or “excellent.” Let your accomplishments, recognitions, and career highlight demonstrate those things about you.
Follow through in the rest of your document.
Once you’ve created an intro statement that points out your top qualifications for the job, make sure the details about your past work and educational experience back this up. How have you acquired those top skills? How have you used them on the job? What have you accomplished at each phase of your career that makes you the best person for the role?
You can create a resume that lists your experience and education in reverse chronological order, and then use this as your template for each job. All you need to do is craft an intro paragraph that is tailored for every job you apply for. And once you’ve done that, make sure the rest of the information you’ve chosen to feature helps to prove that statement.