Sarah Sipek | October 24, 2017
If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Never submit a generic resume. With the job market growing increasingly competitive, it's important to distinguish yourself from other applicants early on in the application process. This means taking the time to tailor your resume to each position you for which you apply.
While this is the smart move, it can also be quite time-consuming. Online applications can take hours to fill out, so taking additional time to customize your resume seems like an unfair ask. Thankfully, if you know a few tricks, it doesn't have to be.
The following five steps will help you finely tune your resume and improve your chances of landing the job:
1. Analyze the job description. Time is of the essence, so don’t waste any of it applying to jobs for which you aren't highly qualified. Review the job description and make note of the job title, duties and responsibilities, specific requirements and location. If your skillset doesn't match—or you're not able to commute or move to get to the job—it is not worth your time to apply.
2. Note the keywords. Many companies utilize applicant tracking systems that scan resumes for specific keywords regarding skillsets, experience and types of degrees achieved. Oftentimes, you can find those keywords in the job description. After reviewing it to ensure you're qualified for the position, pick out specific phrases that describe the type of candidates the company is looking for.
3. Add those keywords to your resume. For example, perhaps you currently have "proficient in the Microsoft suite of programs" listed under your skills section, but the job description specifically asks for experience with Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel. If you want a chance at landing that job, edit your resume to include those specific programs. It’s better to be specific so the employer—or the computer—doesn’t have to guess.
4. Reorganize your resume. Unless you’re applying for your first job, your academic accomplishments are no longer your strongest asset. After you have a few years of work experience under your belt, list that information at the top. Employers want to see where you've worked and what you've accomplished in a real work setting. A high GPA is a nice-to-have, but experience developing a social media strategy that increased traffic by 75 percent is more relevant to the job they want to fill.
5. Be specific. Generalities won't set you apart from the pack. You need to get specific. Try to include numbers with each description of your work experience. Instead of "worked with sales team to increase ad space sold," you should include the exact percentage increase the team was able to achieve because of your efforts.
Want to know what to expect after you click submit your application? Check out what goes on behind the scenes of the hiring process.