We often forget the most important aspect of a great resume: It needs to be written specifically for the job you're after.
Job hunters obsess about resumes. And for good reason. There’s so much to get right — functional versus chronological, objective statements (pro and con), keywords, templates, references, font size, white space, action verbs, employment gaps, placement and style of bullets, typos, whether to include hobbies.
Hmm, probably a “no” on that last one.
So much to do, in fact, that we often forget the most important aspect of a great resume: It needs to be written specifically for the job you’re after.
But, you may say, that means I have to do a new resume for every single position I apply for!
Yup, that’s exactly what it means.
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Fear not, you don’t have to start from scratch each time. All you need to do is edit — refocus — your “master” resume to sync with the job in question. How?
First, read and reread the job description. Study it. Ponder it. Identify the words and phrases the employer uses to describe the position.
Next, determine which of your credentials can honestly be described using the same words and phrases the employer uses in the job description.
Finally, take those words and phrases and use them to describe yourself in your resume.
That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? While you’re at it, here are three more ideas:
1. If you use a career objective at the top of the page, it should include the exact job title of the position you’re seeking.
2. Remove experience/qualifications that have nothing to do with the job in question. You want to make it easy for employers to see the credentials they most care about.
3. If your past job titles are ambiguous, or overly jargony, or don’t obviously relate to the job you’re applying for, rephrase them in laymen’s terms that show how those past jobs qualify you for this new job.
You’ll find that customizing your resume gets easier and faster each time you do it.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.