Practical Tactical Thursday – Resume Tailoring

I find that people are on the extreme ends of the resume tailoring conversation. Wait – you didn’t know that there is a conversation going on? What I mean is candidates either spend hours on updating their resume for every single job or they use a blanket resume and apply away.

Neither approach is going to work great for you. And both approaches are wasting time and energy.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on how we apply for jobs these days to set the stage… in most instances, we are “cold applying” through an online site that uses software to scan and read your resume.

I talk about how to hack an online application here. That being said, the quick and dirty is that a computer is the first set of eyes on your resume. It’s scanning for key words, boxes that you’ve checked in the Q&A portion of the application, and seeing if, at a minimum, you have what the recruiter has indicated as being critical.

A computer is the first set of eyes on your resume. Got that?

How to Tailor Your Resume Going Forward

1. Stop wasting hours on creating one resume for one job.

Yes, a tailored resume will help get your resume through the online screening process better, but spending hours on individual applications is beyond unnecessary. In fact, all you are doing is harming your chances of being hired.

Time spent updating every minute detail of your experience, you will never get back. The computer will not recognize the effort. The hiring manager won’t care. And you will have prevented yourself from applying to other jobs during the time you wasted.

2. Create versions of your resume.

This is the critical component for resume tailoring. It is never ok to have one resume for all positions you apply for. The best way to do this is to create versions of your resume.

For example, there are probably a few different types of job titles or descriptions that you are applying for based on your current level of experience and what you want to do. If I were applying to jobs, I would at a minimum have two different positions I’d aim for: Human Resources Partner and Employee Communications.

With those two positions being my target, I would:

  • Research these positions on SimplyHired without location information filled in and at the appropriate level. By research, I mean looking at job descriptions and figuring out what the important requirements and qualifications are. If you aren’t awesome at recognizing patterns, you can also upload a few different job descriptions onto a site like Wordle.
  • Based on the requirements that continuously come up in various job descriptions, you can assume that most positions within that specific field are going to want to see you demonstrate those items.
    • For example, for Employee Communications positions, you may come back with skills such as create messaging; work cross functionally with HR and business partners; deliver presentations and executive communications; and so on.
  • Using the information that you have discovered, you are now ready to start creating resume versions.

3. Editing your resume versions.

Using the same example as above, I would then create two different versions of my resume. Here is when you are going to spend time on your resume – but you are only going to do it once… before you start applying for jobs.

The more effective way to tailor your resume is by following these steps:

  • Create a base resume that includes all of your accomplishments. Don’t worry about formatting, design or page length for this one. This copy is just for you.
  • Create a second (and third, etc.) resume for each type of position you are applying to (HR & Employee Communications).
  • In each resume, take the bullet points from your catch all that apply to the relevant resume version. Remember, your skills are transferrable, so it’s all about positioning. For the HR resume, I would absolutely include information about my Employee Communications experience, but the HR bullets will come first – they will be in areas where recruiters will absolutely see them.
  • When you’ve completed updating each version with applicable bullets that are placed in order of importance, then you can work on formatting, design and length.

4. Apply to applicable positions using the “right” version of your resume.

Most job descriptions within similar positions have significant similarities as you found out above. So starting from scratch with each position is not necessary. Instead, use the version you’ve created for specific job “types.”

Your resume will end up being keyword rich and show your skills, experience, and expertise in such a way that the recruiter would have to want to meet you. You know, because you want to be friends with them.

Remember – your resume is to get your foot in the door. If you are able to create compelling resume materials that show your expertise, then you will be part of the “in” pile for the recruiter. From that point, it’s up to you to wow them with your interviewing skills.