Targeted resumes, also known as customized or tailored resumes, are the best tools for landing an interview, and ultimately a job. Creating targeted resumes does take some time and effort--so job seekers often don't bother using this valuable tool.
A customized resume is one that's designed for one specific job. Beginning with your base resume, you'll change things strategically in order to spotlight the skills and experiences that best match the job you're applying for. It's a way to paint a picture of yourself as the perfect candidate for any position.
Why targeted resumes work
Custom resumes are a modern job seeking strategy that work because of the way most hiring companies review resume submissions. Typically, instead of manually reading each resume they receive, hiring managers use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)--a computer filter that scans resumes for the keywords designated for that position, and rejects those that don't have closely matching keywords.
Then, the hiring manager reads only the resumes that have passed the ATS filter. The main goal of customizing your resume is to get important keywords in that are likely to bring you through the review levels and place you in the "interview" pile.
Steps for creating a targeted resume
You'll use your existing resume as a template for creating targeted resumes for each job you apply to. So, as a first step, take a few minutes to make sure your resume as it stands is the best it can be.
Pay close attention to the sections that detail your prior experiences and accomplishments. For each one, highlight examples of what you accomplished that others wouldn't have, and list specific results whenever possible. The more detailed you can be, the easier time you'll have tailoring your resume. Finally, go over the whole thing carefully and look for any spelling and grammar mistakes.
Once your template resume is ready to go, here's how to customize:
Gather job descriptions
Copy and paste the job description you're customizing for, including the job title, into a document. Then search for 5 or 6 other listings for the same job title, and copy and paste those into the document. You can also include the job title and description for your position from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook in your collection. Remember to keep these descriptions in the same document--you'll use it in the next step.
Identify popular keywords
All of these job descriptions will contain common keywords that relate to three resume categories: education, experience, and skills/certifications. These are the keywords employers are most likely to use with an ATS to identify candidates who rate an interview.
These large, standout words are the keywords for your targeted resume.
Incorporate the keywords into your resume
Armed with your list of keywords, go over your resume template and look for places you can logically use them. Of course, you'll want to customize the job title section of your resume to match the title of the job you're seeking. Add the remaining keywords to your skills, accomplishment details, education section, and anywhere else they'll read naturally within the text of your resume.
Finally, be sure to save your modified resume file with a new name, so you'll remember which position you're using it for. Then send it with your targeted cover letter, and relax knowing you've got a great shot at getting a call for an interview.
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