Tailor Your Resume and Stay on TRACK

Over the years’, resumes have evolved into many things, from providing basic information to providing extensive details about every skill acquired and every job duty performed. Where is the happy medium between the two and how does your current resume compare to that of your competition?

Yes, competition! You are competing with other job seekers for the job and if employers aren’t contacting you for interviews, it is most likely because your resume isn’t measuring up to the employer’s expectations. You only have about 10 seconds to get the employers attention with your resume, so why aren’t you providing the information most relevant to their needs?

Perhaps your background includes food service seven years’ ago, but over the last five years’ you have been in the banking industry and now you are looking at applying for work in accounting. Is it relevant to include your food service background? Did the job description ask if you could cut vegetables and prepare meals to restaurant specifications? Probably not, so why would you include that in your resume for an accounting position?

Believe me, I get it…You probably spent several hours or even days creating your resume to perfection and detailing your experience, as well as ensuring your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are 100% accurate and you are so very proud of this resume because of the effort you put into it. However, I do wonder if you spent as much time understanding the employer’s needs outlined in the job description before you pushed send? Did you clearly define your skills, experience, and capacity to fill their position based on their needs and requirements, or did you just send the version of your resume that you send to every job you apply to because changing your resume is too much work?

It may be time to rethink your strategy, put away your pride, and realize that even though you worked very hard on your resume and you feel it is perfect the way it is, the employers reading your resume may disagree, especially if you are not catering to their specific requirements to fill the job, which is the most common reason for not being contacted for interviews. Please remember this…Employers do not care what you want, they care about who has the right combination of skills, experience, and knowledge to fill their position and if you don’t meet their criteria, you won’t be considered for the job. While every employer has different expectations, there is one basic principle to follow before sending out your resume;

  • Read and understand the job description in its entirety and tailor your resume to fit the employers needs and expectations.

By following this principle, you are providing the employer with information they want and giving them a reason to request an interview with you, rather than being overlooked for an opportunity because you provided too much, too little, or irrelevant information.

The focus of your resume should be relevant to the requirements, skills and experience reflected in the employer’s job description. While it is great that you may have a versatile set of skills, some of those skills are better left for the interview conversation rather than your resume.  We are no longer at a time when one resume works for every job and it is very likely that you will need to tailor each resume you send out to fit the parameters of the employer’s job description, which also includes using some of the language/words from their job description to highlight your experience and skills.

Before you start applying for the jobs you have been targeting, if you haven’t done this already, I highly recommend creating a long version of your resume with everything you have to offer, including all of the following information from the past 10 years: (If you don’t have 10 years of work history, use what you have…more than 10 years is okay but could appear outdated based on industry, society and technological advancements)

  • Soft skills (Transferable skills) – (communication, customer service, writing, negotiation, team building, problem solving, leadership, supervisory, management, accountability, flexibility, adaptability, collaborative, etc.)
  • Technical skills (computer/software, industry specific (engineering, electrical, mathematical, mechanical, design, clerical, automotive, accounting, human resources, government, non-profit, etc.)
  • Accomplishments (use percentages to show how much you increased business, profits, and revenue, or how much you saved the company, show awards & recognition you earned, etc.)
  • Work history (company, job title, dates employed, job duties)
  • Education (High school, college, university, practicum, certificates, diplomas, designations, professional development courses and other educational coursework, non-expired tickets i.e., forklift, first aid, TDG, etc.)
  • Volunteer experience (company, position title, dates you volunteered, duties you performed)

Once completed, you can save this resume as your “primary” resume, (which you do not send to employers). From there, you can then create multiple versions of your resume for various jobs you apply for by removing the information that doesn’t match the employer’s requirements from your “primary” resume and tailoring it based on the language/words and requirements found within the job descriptions of the jobs you will apply to. (Please be sure you rename and save each of your tailored resumes, to ensure you don’t save over your “primary” resume).

Aside from understanding the job description and tailoring your resume for each employer’s needs and expectations, here are a few more suggestions to help keep your resume on TRACK before sending it out;

Always be truthful about your skills, education, and experience! You are using the resume to reflect your professionalism, knowledge, and ability to perform the requirements of the job. Embellishing, lying and misrepresenting yourself in any capacity, whether in your resume, your cover letter, or during the interview conversation can result in negative consequences for your integrity and credibility, both personally and professionally, as employers can and do research the details you provide. 

Keep your resume relevant to the job description! Your resume is merely a sales tool designed to sell your unique skills, experience, and education to get the interview. It is not a narrative about every detail of every job you have ever held. By tailoring your resume to match the employer’s requirements, you are showing them you have what they are looking for and should the employer ask for more clarification, you will have a great point of discussion during the interview conversation.

Identify your accomplishments! Providing past job experience and description of duties is generally what people do to convey their work history but here’s a little secret, employers don’t care so much about what your previous description of duties were! They care about what you accomplished in the positions you held, what made you stand out from your competition, and how your skills, knowledge, experience, and education will be beneficial to the position and their company. Your accomplishments are something to be proud of, don’t be shy about them. Toot your horn, show your value, and provide specific, truthful, and relevant examples that the employer will take notice of!  

Maintain consistency! From beginning to end, your resume reflects your capacity to engage employers with your most sought after skills. Consistency not only with how your resume presents visually but also in the way you show your skills and experience matters. If you are stating you have excellent communication skills in the “summary of qualifications”, then you should also provide examples/accomplishments of your communication skills within the descriptions of your experience. Think of your resume like a story; You start with a summary, which introduces the employer to your various skills and strengths. Then, you add the experience, where the plot of your story is told through examples, accomplishments and achievements of the skills and strengths you discussed in your summary. You will now wrap up your story with the conclusion, which briefly informs the employer of your work history relevant to the summary and plot with companies you worked for, job titles, and dates of employment followed by details of your education. By providing your information in this way, your level of engagement with your audience increases substantially because consistency in the message you convey is concise and clear, thereby creating interest for employers read your resume and then contact you for an interview.      

Show your knowledge about the position you are applying for! There is a relationship between what you know and what the employer needs and it is up to you to make the connection. The employer reading your resume is looking for you to prove you can solve their problem. The more understanding you have about the position and the way you present your knowledge in relation to their needs is how you will prove you’re worthy of an interview. If the job description is asking for someone with excellent communication skills, simply stating you have excellent communication skills isn’t enough. You need to relate your communication skills to their needs through a well-defined example that shows how you solved a problem, increased business, maintained a large account, negotiated new contracts or whatever it may be and then briefly describe how it positively impacted the company, situation, or position.   

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