17 Jun

Rarely does a month go by when the answer to my question from a soon to be sponsored candidate is NOT what I am looking for.  The question is “are you open to customization on your resume “ relative to the targeted job opportunity we are discussing?

The answer that I do not want to hear but that I hear far too often is…..“No, I want to keep everything about my work history in this resume for you to use when finding a job for me!”

 While this is NOT the response I am looking for, it is an occurrence that happens a lot and cannot be dismissed or ignored, if you are interested in landing the job of your dreams!

Many jobseekers expend significant time and energy fine-polishing their resumes, wordsmithing the document until it is “perfect.” They then make a huge mistake by using that exact same resume for each and every job application.  Much of this comes from the perspective and mistaken notion that their target audience needs to know EVERYTHING about them.  To COVER everything so that multiple opportunities can be considered from the organization given the diversity, breadth, and scope of their work history.  If there was ever a faster formula for the round file, I would like to hear it!  Often times candidates will go to great lengths and spend a small fortune in creating a resume with a “one size fits all” mindset so that whatever the job, whatever the opportunity, their resume with all of their work history, often in FONT 8 and multiple pages will WIN THE DAY!

I view talent who indulge in this type of malpractice as individuals who would prefer for their resume to do the interviewing for them vs. submitting something just enough to get a hiring manager curious and effective enough to secure the coveted first interview so that their gravitas, in the interview, will win the client over.

When it comes to SOLUTION SALES, you would not send a client an obvious BOILER PLATED proposal for their evaluation ignoring the opportunity for your client to feel that you have a customized solution for them.

You would not send the same greeting card for every life occasion. Likewise, you should not send the same resume to every prospective employer!

Your CV is a living, fluid document that should be customized for each job application. It is not enough to simply add the company’s name in the “career objective” section; the best resumes are built around the specific needs, requirements & hiring practices of the job at-hand.  The content/creation of your customized CV should have a specific look/feel geared to the demands of the opportunity so that only a fool would not want to interview you.  When that hiring manager forwards your CV to their boss, he/she should be asking: “what day are they on the calendar this week?”

Here are three reasons why you need to customize your resume for each job:

  1. Customization helps you focus on the employer’s specific needs

It is simple… organizations hire because they are looking to solve a problem; if they did not have a problem, they would not invest in new staff. As a jobseeker, you want to position yourself as the one, can’t-miss, sure-fire solution the organization absolutely must hire to solve its most pressing needs. You need to make sure that your resume addresses the employer’s specific challenges and pain-points–otherwise you are selling a solution the organization does not need. 

Dig deep into the job announcement, the company website, research recent press clippings about the organization and review any other information sources to figure out the specific problem or problems the organization is looking to solve. Then frame your relevant professional experience and education as tools that will help you solve these acute pain points. Highlight how you have solved similar issues in the past. Show how everything you have done up to this point in your career positions you as the problem-solver the organization cannot live without.  

I have always felt that successful selling is effective story telling.  You have a hell of a story, YOU, now tell them your story!! Do not be modest or subtle in aligning your skills to the challenge of the job; as Jenny Foss notes, you want your applicable skills to be “smack-in-the-forehead” obvious to the reader.

2. Customization helps you pass applicant tracking systems

Increasing numbers of employers use applicant tracking systems as part of the hiring process. On average, these systems automatically screen out more than 70% of all submitted applications without any human review.  These filters are ALL customized and more times than not, when you do not hear back from a prospective employer who you applied with, online, chances are that you will never hear back from them and not know why you did not secure the job. The best way to survive this cruel automated culling is to ensure your resume has keywords and phrases that align with job posting. Applicant tracking systems are generally keyword based, so the more keywords in your resume, specific to the job posting, the better your chances of success. 

The other effective way of avoiding this experience is to identify an established placement agency or recruiter whose sweet spot is the industry you are trying to land in and get them to hand deliver your resume to their client contacts on your behalf.  There is no substitute for the value that is available to you when working with an established recruiting house focused on the industry of interest. Again, you want to analyze the job announcement–and even language from the organization’s other marketing materials–to glean the relevant keywords and phrases. 

Then make sure your resume includes these terms, preferably multiple times. And remember to copy the keywords, verbatim; even small changes in verb tense or word order can negatively impact your score. (When it comes to applicant tracking systems, project management ≄ project manager ≄ managed projects!) If you need help finding the right keywords, check out this free tool at JobScan.co, that allows you to compare your resume with any job posting.

Customization shows you are invested in the opportunity

It is fast and easy to shoot off a generic resume and cover letter. Customizing your resume around a specific job is much more of a project–expect at least an hour to do a thorough job. But what you lose in time, you make up for in impact. 

Your hard work shows! A well written, customized resume evinces as a certain level of commitment to the opportunity. It shows the hiring manager that you have done your research, that you understand the organization, and that know how you can contribute as an employee. It positions you as a serious candidate, not someone applying to each and every job they find. 

90% of all resumes we forward to prospective employers on behalf of sponsored candidates have been customized or modified per the above by our TalentMatch staff.  This has always been the formula for success for a 20 year old national placement agency.

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