Don’t give up just yet; we all know that sinking feeling: After investing a lot of time and energy to craft a perfect resume, you find your inbox empty. Even after applying to multiple job vacancies.
So what’s the problem?
It’s not uncommon to see job seekers go the extra mile to come up with a well-designed resume. While following best practices will help you stand out to hiring managers, it’s a common misconception that one resume will work for every job application.
In an ideal job market, a job posting attracts about 250 resumes, of which only four to six make it to the interview stage, and eventually only one gets hired. To have a chance of making it to the interview stage, it’s essential to tailor your resume.
A customized resume will closely align with the specific requirements of a particular job opening. It’s your best bet as a job seeker.
I’ve outlined 5 reasons why resume customization is essential (and how it will help you land your dream job). Let’s go!
Reasons why you need to tailor your resume for each job
It shows how you can solve the employer’s specific needs
Think about it: The reason for a job ad is to solve an organizational problem. Hiring managers want candidates that can address their challenges and bottlenecks.
For instance, let’s say you are applying for the role of a content writer in an organization seeking to generate more leads and ultimately increase their conversion rates. Highlighting your expertise in SEO and how you’ve helped businesses rank high on SERP makes sense for your tailored resume.
You want your resume to get past ATS
Over 50% of organizations have adopted applicant tracking software (ATS) as part of their hiring process. This AI-powered technology is built to analyze resumes for keywords and phrases that align with the job posting.
ATS saves the hiring team extra work on manual resume analysis by completely automating and speeding up the entire recruitment process. The bad news? A staggering 75% of applicants get eliminated by the ATS before a human ever lays eyes on their resume.
While concerning (and maddening), job seekers must adapt their strategy to make their resume ATS-friendly to increase their odds of getting selected. By tailoring your resume for a specific job, you can leverage keywords to your advantage (more on that below).
To prove that you’re detail-oriented and invested in the role
Even in cases of manual resume analysis, it’s easy for hiring managers to spot and eliminate a generic resume.
By customizing your resume, you highlight your relevant experience and skills. But without taking the time to tweak it, you may miss the mark for some requirements (at best) or be perceived as “not a good fit” (at worst).
Be as detailed as possible. If sales increased by 30% when you were the team lead, include that. The hiring team wants to see your specific results as they relate to the job opening. Facts and figures will back up your experience and set you apart from the competition.
Frequent updates to multiple resumes will protect you from mistakes
Resume customization can be time-consuming and boring, yes—especially when you’ve made multiple attempts and aren’t getting positive results. But on the bright side, revamping your resume will save you from making potential mistakes.
If you’re desperate to land a job, it’s easy to lose sight of important details on your resume. Resume customization makes it harder to neglect outdated information. And you won’t forget to include new certifications, courses, or achievements when you’re frequently reviewing your experience. Keeping each version of your resume fresh and polished will boost your chances of being hired.
For instance, a job posting lists three years of minimum experience as part of the criteria for selection. Due to your eagerness to be among the first set of applicants, you submit an application that reads two years of work experience. But in reality, you’ve got over four years of experience in the field.
You miss out on that opportunity. That mistake could have been avoided if you had reviewed and customized your resume.
4 tips for tailoring your resume for different jobs
Keep reading to feature your most relevant experience on your resume—and show how you’re the best person for the job:
1. Go beyond the job posting
Gain an in-depth understanding of the position and qualifications, the company’s goals, and the organizational culture. Source information from the company website and social media. Check out customer reviews, press coverage, and websites like Glassdoor to learn more.
2. Always be truthful
Never lie about skills you don’t have. Customizing your resume means highlighting your most relevant skills in relation to the position.
For example, let’s say you’re a product manager who is applying to a project management position. While your title may not be “project manager,” you have loads of project management experience in your current role. You would focus on how you’ve tracked projects, relevant software you have experience using, and how you’ve met (or exceeded) timelines.
On the flip side, falsifying skills or experience could lead you to a very uncomfortable situation (or possible termination) if you don’t know how to do the job you were hired for.
3. Be strategic with keywords
To beat the ATS, this step is key when customizing your resume.
- Carefully analyze the job posting for keywords
- Ensure you repeat these terms on multiple occasions
- Be careful of making alterations in verb tense and word order
For instance, a job posting says, “Candidate with creative ideas for content creation and marketing.” In contrast, your resume describes how you “generate new approaches for content creation and optimize marketing campaigns.” To make your resume a better match for the job posting, replace “new approaches” with “creative ideas.”
The more you use the keywords in the job description, the better your chances with the ATS. At the same time, be careful of having too many matches. You don’t want it to look like an exact mirror of the job description. Include them, but be thoughtful in how you do it.
For more information about applying for jobs online (and beating the ATS game), check out this article:
4. Declutter your resume
This is important for both resume content and formatting.
For the content of your resume: There’s no need to keep older, irrelevant items on your resume. Focus on achievements and skills that align with the position you’re applying for.
For the formatting: Keep it simple. You want your resume to be clear and easy to understand. Avoid fancy fonts. If you’re unsure where to start, you could use a professional resume template. These are carefully organized, offer different layouts based on industry, and are designed to navigate the ATS.
Always keep a copy of your original resume, so you don’t lose important details for the next time you want to customize your resume.
There’s no such thing as one perfectly crafted resume
Many job seekers underestimate the benefits of customizing their resumes.
But now you know better.
Landing your dream job isn’t easy, but thoughtfully approaching each job application and resume will take you one step closer. Good luck!