A Key that Opens a Specific Door: Customize that Resume!

Career Services

In today’s job market, resumes and cover letters are still one of the best ways of making a first impression. However, gone are the days when one resume that explains your job duties and employment history is enough. Hiring managers are looking for a resume that speaks to them and the position they’re filling. And, they’re being highly selective.

Have you ever applied to a position only to find the door to a new job remains firmly locked? Why are you unable to open the door? The reason may surprise you. It’s because many job seekers don’t spend the time to finely craft the specific key that opens that lock. Your resume is that key and if well-crafted it can result in doors that open!

So how exactly do you craft that resume that lands you that big interview?

Here are 4 tips to customizing your resume to get results:

Analyze the Job Posting (Be an Investigator)

The first task to customizing your resume is to thoroughly analyze the job posting. Use your investigative skills to create a list of things they’re looking for including the following:

  • Years of Experience
  • Type and level of Education
  • Skills and Expertise

Use the list as a checklist, do you have each requirement? If yes, make sure your resume contains each of these very important pieces.

Make a 1:1 Match (Give ‘em What They Want)

In addition to making sure that you have the basic requirements an employer is looking for, you’ll also want to pull out specific job duties, tasks and skills. For each job duty in the ad you’ll want to make a 1 to 1 match between experiences you have and job duties they require. List these items as bullet points on your resume. If you don’t have the exact experience, determine if you have related or transferrable skills and tasks and use those instead.

Choose Keywords and Industry Terms (Be a Parrot)

Industry terms and phrases are also important as you’ll want to mimic their job ad in your resume by using their specific terms and phrases when explaining your skills and expertise. For example, instead of writing as a skill, perhaps they’re looking for blogging or content creation. Make sure you use the words they use to gain their attention.

Key words are doubly important as many companies today are using software to run a first pass on applicants. This software scans resumes and cover letters for key words and phrases that the company deems important. Don’t get left behind during that first pass because you didn’t use the right language.

Customize by Career Stage (Know your stage)

Your career stage can play a big role in how you create your resume. Are you just starting out in the world of work with little to no professional experience? You’re a Career Launcher. Or are you looking to change career paths? You’re a Career Changer. You could also already be in the career path you desire and are looking for a promotion. You’re a Career Advancer.

The resume style you choose can help you highlight your most valuable skills, expertise and experience in a way that gains attention. So which style is right for your stage?

Career Launcher:

A combination resume is likely the best fit to make your abilities stand out while minimizing the fact that you don’t have many years of professional experience. First, you’ll want to create a summary of you as a professional that briefly (2-3 sentences) narrates your accomplishments, coursework, education to date and any volunteer, internship, work study or other applicable positions held that are specific to the job for which you’re applying.

Below your summary, you’ll list your skills both technological and interpersonal, add in relevant coursework (making sure it’s actually relevant to the position you’re applying for and not a laundry list of courses) and highlight your education.

You can also make the most of what experience you do have in an Accomplishments section, grouping your acquired skills and accomplishments by type, such as Marketing, Leadership, Communication, or Teamwork rather than listing accomplishments as bullet points for each employment history item. At the bottom of your resume, be sure to include any work history you do have including dates of employment.

Career Changer:

A combination resume can work well for Career Changers too. As most of your experience lies in a different field, it may be helpful to highlight recent coursework, education, volunteer, internship or work study experiences as well as accomplishments grouped by type like the launchers, including those that are transferrable from your past career to your future career. Don’t forget to include a professional summary!

Career Advancer:

A chronological resume is a great choice for a career advancer. Its chronological style allows an Advancer to showcase career advancement in their field over time, showing an increase in accomplishments, skills and responsibility with each subsequent position. An Advancer should have an excellent professional summary, an education section to feature any advanced degrees pertinent to a promotion within the field as well as skills both technological and interpersonal.

You’ve Got the Key, Now Open the Door

Using the tips above, you’re well on your way to customizing your resume into a key that opens a specific door. With applicable industry keywords, job accomplishments that are a 1 to 1 match to those in the ad as well as a resume that highlights your expertise by your career stage, you’re sure to open the door to a new fulfilling career soon!

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