Guide to Customizing a Resume
A customized resume is all the rage these days on the hiring scene. Every resume writing freelancer swears by their ability to turn the heads of hiring managers near and far by the use of customization. And they’re right! I can tell you first hand that I won’t even read a resume that looks like it’s been copied from an online template. I’ve even come across resumes where the cut and paste job was so obvious, the applicant didn’t even bother to standardize the font or bullets. (yeah, that’s actually happened…)
The reason it’s so important to customize these days is because a typical applicant’s work history looks very different than it did thirty years ago. It used to be that a person would graduate from college with a degree in a field related to their profession and their work histories were a clear and linear path towards the position in which they were currently applying.
Those days are long gone. Not only are we experiencing increasing and multiple career shifts in a “work lifespan”, but we are also seeing higher turnover rates, meaning a one page resume that is also all inclusive is simply not possible.
By customizing a resume, you can create a clear, if not linear, path for the hiring manager to easily understand your career experience and goals. The idea is to create some consistency, in what may be an otherwise chaotic read.
So, now that we are all agreed that customized resumes are an absolute must, the next question becomes, how and where do you customize a resume?
Here are three simple steps to customizing a resume:
- Customize for the Position
- Cut out all jobs in which your position held had nothing to do with the position for which you are applying. If you had a sales job in college and are applying for a data analyst position in a research facility, scrap it.
- Selecting the positions you’ve held that most closely show your experience with the skillsets needed for this particular position.
- If you’ve never held the position for which you are applying, customize your bullets to show how your past employment has primed you for this next step. For instance, say you’re applying for a project manager position and you’ve only ever been an executive assistant. In your bullets, showcase things that show you can manage projects. Perhaps, as an executive assistant, you organized the company party, or managed elements of projects for your boss.
- Customize for the Company’s Industry or Market
- Adding in a position or work you’ve done within the industry, even if the position is a bit different. You can always utilize step one to make it fit your path. If you’re applying for a sales position at a car dealership and you have no sales experience, but you did work for Harley Davidson’s marketing team, you can always tailor the bullets to focus on how you created “sales content” and “formulated marketing campaigns based on sales techniques and considerations”.
- You may not always be able to do this, and that’s okay. Better to skip this step, than force it and make it look strange.
- If you have no work experience with the industry, but are an enthusiast in any way, you can always mention that in your cover letter.
- Another way to do this is to highlight a market you are familiar with or a business model you have experience with. Even if the industry is completely different, if you have held a position with an “online retailer” and the company you are applying with is an online retailer, then you should include that and focus your bullet points on specific contributions you made to the company as an “online retailer”.
- Customize for the Company’s Values
- Going onto their website and social media platforms to get a sense of their brand and what their core values are.
- If you are applying to a company that puts a high emphasis on employee engagement, then tailor your bullet points to showcase your abilities in that area. If they are innovators, then feature your best creative work and successful projects.
- You also want to incorporate this information on your “objective” or “summary” statement right at the top.
When customizing a resume, as they say in marketing, consider your audience. The more your customize a resume for each job opportunity the better your chances of hitting the mark and gaining the interview.
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