What is a Customized Resume?
Think of your resume as a search engine with results. The key is not to crowd your resume with information that is irrelevant to the job, but to be as specific and relevant as possible. You want your resume to showcase that you're a specialist and expert in your field of work, not a generalist.
Knowing such, that is what a customized resume should be. In other words, you should absolutely customize your resume for each job application - to demonstrate that you are the right candidate for that employer, not for some other employer. Make it easy for a hiring manager to identify why you're a perfect match for the job.
Why Do I Need to Customize My Resume?
You probably read a lot of resume advice online with recommendations that you should tailor your resume for each job. Well, a custom resume can mean the difference between getting that final interview and never even getting a phone call.
We all know the feeling – you send out application after application only to find your inbox empty and your spirits down. If you find yourself in the endless cycle of few callbacks, the first question to ask yourself is "does my resume match the exact position I'm applying for?"
Most job seekers go create a resume with the goal of seeming as impressive as possible. That’s not necessarily what a hiring manager is looking for though. They’re taking your resume, putting it side-by-side with the job description, and deciding if you have the skills and experience needed to do this specific job. While your resume is a powerful tool to explain your career story, it should always be written through the lens of what you can bring to a potential employer.
How Should I Customize My Resume?
Here are some tips on how to tailor your resume and impress a potential employer. A good tool to use is EarnBetter’s resume builder which is linked here.
- Research the company you are sending your application to – Simply take a little time to review the company you are interested in. Customize your resume to present yourself as a good fit for the team. For example, you may win points with a recruiter from a financial institution company if you mention that you were once part of a customer service firm servicing clients from a bank, or a retail sales expert from a well-known company in retail.
- Modify your job title - Your job title will be one of the first things that a prospective employer sees. For them to be interested in you, your title needs to be keyword optimized. Thus, include your current job title or the one you’re applying (if that makes more sense). For example: if the company calls a “Customer Service Representative” a “Customer Service Associate”, you want to refer to yourself using their language.
- Match your resume content with the job description - You want to tailor your resume to the job description, starting by matching the most important things on the job description with the most visible areas on your resume. Make the first few bullet points under each previous job on your resume as relevant as possible.
- Your resume employment history is one of the first places recruiters and hiring managers look, so it’s one of the most important areas to tailor. Make the first few bullet points under each previous job on your resume as relevant as possible. Your resume employment history is one of the first places recruiters and hiring managers look, so it’s one of the most important areas to tailor.
- Showcase your skills – check that job description again...what skills does the company say are must-haves? Work your magic and move your information around until those exact skills and the results are achieved. This is especially important if you are seeking a new role that isn’t exactly like your last one.
- Remove irrelevant experience - If you are lucky enough to have a wealth of work experience and a long career, or have worked in multiple fields, pick and choose the jobs you include in your customized resume.
- Your first job as a customer service representative, for instance, may not apply to a potential new role as an engineer—even if it taught you critical transferable skills. Remember, you want the hiring manager to be able to assess, in a few seconds, why you are a natural fit for the job based on your trajectory thus far.
- Review everything - Once you’re comfortable that you’ve covered everything possible on your resume in terms of what the job description asks for, do what the hiring manager would do. Lay your resume side-by-side with the job description and glance through it. Does everything fit and make sense? Will the company be able to clearly see why you chose to apply for this position and why you’re interested? Or will they ask, “I wonder why this person thought to apply here?” That’s what you want to avoid.
It can take numerous job applications before you land your first interview, so anything you can do to get your foot in the door is well worth your time. Customizing your resume to the job is the first step toward convincing the hiring manager that you are exactly who they’re looking for.
And don’t forget, the goal of job hunting is to stand out amongst the crowd of candidates vying for the same job. While having stellar accomplishments and skills help you get your goals, it won’t hurt to give yourself a little bit of a boost to get ahead of the competition, and customizing your resume can help you get that.