You often read how important it is to avoid things like grammar mistakes and embellishments on your résumé or CV, but what about tailoring it to the job application? In the past, you may have skipped this step because of the extra work involved.
But which résumé do you think will be better received by a hiring company? One that’s been standardized and probably mass-mailed to them and several of their competitors, or one that’s been specially customized to showcase all the reasons they should call up the candidate right now and find out more about them? Exactly.
The good news is once you’ve put the right method in place, tailoring your résumé becomes a lot less complicated than you’d expect. In this article, I’m sharing three techniques you can use to tailor your résumé to any job opening and still save time in the process.
1. Create a master template
Before you even launch your job search, create a standardized version of your résumé that you can recycle for each application. This will save you tons of time as you go along, especially if you plan to apply to several offers.
Don’t overthink this part, but do make sure to include all the “bones” of a complete résumé (i.e., name, contact details, job history, and so on). Once you’re happy with this version of your résumé, save it as your Master Template.
With your master template set up, you’ll no longer have to create a new résumé or work backward from a previously edited version ever again. Instead, when you’re ready to apply for a job, make a copy of the master template and edit that file, leaving the master copy untouched.
Remember to update your master template if there’s a change in your basic details, like if you move to a new address. Also, save the edited copies of your résumé so you can refer back to them if you’re shortlisted for a position.
2. Mirror your résumé to the job ad
Okay, so now you’ve made a copy of your master template, you know which job you want to apply for, and you’re ready to tailor your résumé before you send it off. Pull up the job ad and read it closely.
What you’re going to do is import keywords and catchphrases from the job ad into your résumé, particularly from the Person Specification and Skills Required sections. You’ll also make sure your résumé mirrors the language used throughout the ad.
So, if your résumé says “detail-oriented” but the job ad says “detail-driven,” change it. If your résumé is in British English but the job ad is in American English, change it.
If your résumé and the job ad each list eight important skills, but only half of them coincide, make the relevant deletions in your résumé and find a way to incorporate at least some of the remaining skills from the ad or job description.
Do this until your résumé is as closely related to the job ad as possible without crossing the line into outright embellishment or dishonesty, which is obviously a no-no.
How does this help? Simple – the person who screens your résumé is will be familiar with the job description. They may even have written the job ad themselves. The closer your résumé lines up with the ad and description, the better your chances of getting a call back.
3. Relate your existing skills and background to the job requirements
Great, so you’ve mirrored your résumé’s language to the job ad and you’ve incorporated important keywords. Now all we have to do is check for any gaps in skills or experience, and find ways to either shrink or close them.
The way you patch up a skills gap is to link your previous experiences to the job requirements of the position you want. For any skill or qualification you wouldn’t normally think you have, ask yourself, “How can I relate this to me or my background?”
Here’s an example: You’re applying for an administrative position and “implementation of business and office policies” is listed as required experience. But your background is in customer service, so your initial reaction may be to conclude you don’t fulfill this particular requirement. You figure perhaps it’s best not to address it at all.
But actually, working in customer service, you have to be aware of and implement policies all the time. An example would be working in a department store and correctly following the return policy. So, you may not have executed a particular responsibility as described in a job ad, but the trick is to find intersections between your past experiences and your future responsibilities.
Do this with each section of the job ad, readjusting the relevant sections in your résumé as appropriate. You probably won’t be able to find overlaps for every requirement, but you’ll get a lot closer than if you didn’t try at all, and your résumé will be stronger for it.
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