Your resume is a sales letter promoting your background, abilities and potential. A good resume will get lead to interviews and poor one will keep opportunities out of reach. It is important to develop the best sales presentation to differentiate yourself from your competition.
Many job seekers get frustrated sending out lots of resumes and never hearing anything in response. They apply to a few dozen companies and hear back from a couple and sometimes none. The reason is simple – when companies post a job, they receive thousands of resumes that have nothing to do with the job.
Some job seekers, frustrated with the lack of response, resort to a mass mailing approach. The idea is to send out massive volumes of resumes and hope a few will get a response.
The problem with this strategy is the poor quality of the resume that is sent. Generalizing your background to be suitable for almost any job results in your resume looking like everyone else’s. This ensures you will not stand out and will not get attention.
The solution is to customize your application. The more you can do this, the more successful you will be. If your job search is stalled, working to customize your resume for each position will help jump start your efforts and get your search back on track.
Taken to the extreme, you would write a custom cover letter and resume for a position, address them to a specific individual, and hand deliver your information to the hiring manager – ideally with someone from the company referring and recommending you to the hiring manager. In this situation, your resume is going to get a very close look and you will get a response.
Unfortunately, this level of customization and personal contact isn’t always possible. So what should you do? Customize the sales pitch as much as possible.
The first step is to have a cover letter. Many job seekers omit a cover letter, but including one can help differentiate you from the other applicants.
Second, customize your cover letter to the position. A cover letter, specifically mentioning the position and company, along with a persuasive reason why the job seeker will add value to that company, is more likely to generate interest.
Third, customize the objective statement on your resume. Make sure it indicates you are interested in the position.
Fourth, customize your skills, highlighting the skills most important for the position. Often, this requires only a slight change to your resume, but it can make a huge impact. Look at the job description and make sure you show your skill level with any required technical skills. You may think that the skills you include in your resume imply that you would have other related skills, but you can’t count on this. It becomes especially problematic if the person doing the initial resume screen doesn’t understand the technical details of a position. In this case, they may have a checklist of skills – if you mention everything on the checklist, you pass, if you don’t you’re rejected.
Fifth, customize the accomplishments on your resume. Look for key elements of the job description, paying particular attention to the goals, expectations or challenges of the role. Include examples of how you have met similar goals or expectations, or have overcome similar challenges in the past.
If you adjust all five of these elements on every resume you submit, you will greatly improve your success rate. Making these modifications takes time, but it is worth it. The tighter the job market gets, the more important it is to maximize your chances for every opportunity.