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Tailoring Your Resume
You may have created a resume, but in an increasingly competitve job market, writing one resume and sending it to every employer is a sure way of never getting to the interview stage. It’s important that you tailor your application to each employer in order to maximize your chances. In fact, some larger organizations that receive hundreds of resumes will use systems that scan each application for the specified keywords and phrases that they want from an employee. So whilst you may be an excellent candidate, your application may never hit a real human’s desk if you don’t use the keywords they are looking for. Whilst you don’t have to recreate your resume from scratch with every job application, a few small changes here and there are crucial to your success in finding employment.
Therefore, it’s good to get into the habit of reading the job description, analyzing exactly what the employer is looking for, extracting keywords that they themselves have used, and then ultimately using those words and phrases in your own application. For instance, if the job advertisement says they are looking for a good team player, make sure in your own application that you highlight how you are a team player.
Finding Keywords and Targeting Individual Employers
As mentioned above, identifying keywords that the employer is looking for from it's applicants is not only vital for getting past the automated resume scanning phase, but also impressing the hiring manager when it actually lands on their desk. So how do we do this?
First of all, try scanning the specific job advert you want to apply for. Identify precisely what qualifications and experience they are seeking. Identify what traits the company appears to be looking for, and if there's a recurring word or theme you can detect, such as reliability or precision, make sure you take a note of that and make it clear that those are skills you possess and value highly, because clearly the employer does. For instance, if they say they are looking for someone "that will go above and beyond", putting in your resume that you often go "above and beyond" will likely garner good results.
If you feel you aren't able to get a sufficient amount of data from just the job advert, try looking at similar jobs. You can do this by looking in the job section of a newspaper. You can also use a job search engine, you can find links to a few of them here. Look for jobs with a similar role or title to the one you're applying for and see if there is any common phrases or words that pops up consistently.
Finally, research the company! This is equally important when it comes to the interview stage too, so it's definitely a good idea. Check out the company's website, try to get a feel for the type of company is it, what their corporate culture is like, and what type of person they'd be looking for. For example, if it appears from their website that they pride themselves on how they cultivate their casual, informal and relaxed office atmosphere, make sure in your application that you highlight how your personality would fit well into that sort of environment.
❶Use a simple font that’s easy on the eyes and avoid flashy colors. If your resume is too difficult to read, you risk losing the employer’s interest immediately.
❷ If applicable, make sure to remind the reader of your connection to the company. If someone inside the company referred you to the job, make sure to mention that on the cover letter. If you spoke with the hiring manager on the phone last week, make sure to remind them of that also. It will not only help you stand out, but also build a rapport and become memorable to the person doing the hiring.
❸ When writing a cover letter, try to only mention experience, qualifications and skills you possess that you believe is relevant to the job at hand. The cover letter only has limited space (in order to keep it sufficiently succinct) so it’s important that you are only including information that is pertinent to the job you are applying for.
❹ On average, a hiring manager will only read a resume for six seconds, which means you need to make a big impact immediately. Make sure to catch their eye by listing your most impressive achievements at the top of your resume, use bullet points to make then distinct and easy to read.