When applying for jobs, you’re never writing just one resume. If you’re doing it the right way, you’ll be making new versions of the same resume for every job application. It might sound tiresome, but how badly do you want this job?
Sending the same resume to hundreds of hiring teams might seem like a smart tactic to increase your employment opportunities but that indiscriminate resume might be the exact reason you have limited success.
Research shows those who take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to resume submissions are less likely to advance in the hiring process than those who “target” their applications, tailoring each resume to suit the job to which you’re applying.
In a recent episode of RecruitMilitary LIVE on LinkedIn, U.S. Army veterans Lucas Connolly and Lucas Waniewski discussed five steps to target your resume and generate results:
1. Create a master resume with all the data
Before you can target your resume for a specific role, you need to create a master resume, where you write out all the skills, certifications, and experiences in your career. It doesn’t matter how long it is, because you’re not sending it to anyone.
Save this document as the master and do not delete anything. Instead, create a new document from this master resume for each position for which you’re applying.
After building the master resume, gather the job description, company mission statement, core values, relevant recent media, and any other information that helps paint an accurate picture of the company’s needs.
Collecting this kind of information will not only help target your resumes but also assist you in interview preparation, which you’re more likely to need now that you’re targeting your resumes.
2. Find your overlaps
With the data in hand, take a moment to thoroughly read the job description. Highlight keywords and phrases, identify the qualifications (both required and preferred) and key responsibilities of the role, and understand the expectations of the optimal candidate.
Identify how your resume correlates to the keywords and phrases you just highlighted. If your resume doesn’t have all the keywords, look at your work history to see if you have similar experience.
It’s important not to lie on your resume, but consider how some of your experiences could relate to the job description and add any new bullets or experiences to your master resume.
While gathering the data, you should have researched the role and how it supports the company’s mission. At the top of your resume, after the administrative information, address how your background and skill sets can support the company’s bottom line.
Think of this as a written elevator pitch; keep it short and relevant to the role.
4. Target the skills list
Referencing the job description and its required qualifications list, frontload your hard and soft skills by listing them under your professional summary. Consider including key certifications in this section instead of burying them in education or experience.
Hard skills are supported by certifications, such as Project Management Professional or Lean Six Sigma. Skills you gained through experience, but not formal training or education can be listed in the form of a soft skill, such as project management.
5. Keep it short and relevant
On average, recruiters or human resource managers take 8-10 seconds to decide if your resume is worth reviewing further, so you have limited time to get their attention. Remove any work history that doesn’t directly relate to the job you are applying for. You want the relevant experience to be front and center.
Once you have decided what experience stays, rack ‘em and stack ‘em! Put the most impactful and quantifiable achievements as the first bullets in each work section. Even if your job titles don’t perfectly match what the employer is seeking, list similar work or comparable performance outcomes that demonstrate your ability to deliver results. Be sure to use relevant and quantifiable terms.
Go the extra mile
A resume that targets the needs of a company will only get you so far. Stand out from your competition by pairing your application with a tailored cover letter. For more information on cover letters, read Cover Letters 101: What, When, & How.
Listen to the full episode of RecruitMilitary LIVE’s 5 Steps to a Targeted Resume.