Employers absolutely need to know that the candidate they choose for a job is the best fit, which they do by confirming that his or her past accomplishments and current skill set fall in line with the important day-to-day tasks and overarching goals of the position.
If you write a generic resume that doesn’t take into account the specific needs of the company or showcase your professional capabilities, you’re failing to prove that you’re right for the position.
Targeting your resume requires a bit more effort, but offers a lot in return. By taking the time to tailor a resume for each company to which you apply, you give the hiring manager no doubt that you’re the best person for the job.
Targeting your resume is as simple as using the keywords from the job description and supplementing them in your resume. Software that companies use to review resumes typically run two algorithms: one is keywords, and the other is the frequency of those keywords in the document.
Here are three things that employers are looking for on your resume:
- A sense of who you are! What makes you different from all the other applicants? Think about that and talk about your strengths and specific skills. Mirror the job description, capturing keywords.
- You meet the qualifications of the job. This takes place in two ways: either by your education (degrees or certifications) or through your experience (number of years doing the work). Hopefully, you have a combination of both; if not, play to whichever is your strength!
- Work history that reflects your experience.
And here are three ways to make sure employers find these things on your resume:
- If you’ve been using a template to complete your resume, stop! Most of these don’t adequately summarize your specific skills and are aimed at developing a very generic document. Your end result will look very similar to everyone else’s. The trick is to set yourself apart, not to blend in! Remove the objective statement and replace with a professional profile or summary of qualifications. Everyone’s objective statement sounds the same and states the obvious: you’re seeking a job in your field of interest, using your skills and abilities with a company where there is growth and room for upward mobility (Right!?). When you replace this section with a summary or listing of your specific skills, you’re communicating to the employer a sense of who you are (number one above). The trick is to scan the job posting and mirror it in your summary. You’ll give the employer exactly the kind of person she’s asking for, and on paper, will be the perfect applicant for the job.
- Move your education or qualifying certifications to the top of the resume just below your summary, so the employer can’t miss that you’re qualified.
- Make sure that your work history shows the experience listed in your profile or summary.
Want to learn more about how to make your resume work even harder for you? Get on NCWorks Online and register for any of our resume development workshops or for a one-on-one resume coaching session!
Jeff Adams is a Certified GCDF (Global Career Development Facilitator) who has worked in the human services field for more than 20 years. He currently serves as a career coach at Charlotte Works, and has an extensive background in case management, counseling and professional development. Previously, Adams was the director of Charlotte Saves, an organized financial literacy campaign, and continues to provide workshops on budgeting and credit management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Buffalo State University and a master’s degree in counseling and psychology from the University of West Alabama. Adams loves to educate people on all areas of career development and is passionate about helping others recognize their strengths and achieve their dreams. When he isn’t working, he can be found spending time with his wife and two daughters.
Michael Martin is an employment specialist with the N.C. Department of Commerce, Division of Workforce Solutions, with more than 30 years of experience in the employment and training fields. He has an extensive background in case management, substance abuse and career counseling, job development and labor market information. Previously, Martin was a staff analyst for the County of Fresno in California, where he monitored federally funded substance abuse treatment and employment and training programs. He has also served as the executive director of an employment and training agency and director of a mature worker’s program, and has organized many job fairs and recruitment events. Martin holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Stanislaus State University in California. His passion for helping people find their careers and the right job have shaped his own career in the employment and training arenas.