Let’s talk strategy and unpack what a solid strategy looks like for your job search, especially when it comes to your resume!
An effective job search has many components: defining ideal opportunities/companies/industries, networking with key people, setting up informational interviews, creating your marketing resources (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn), deciding what positons to apply to, and preparing for interviews.
There are so many moving parts to an effective job search that if you are not focused and strategic in your activity, you will end up spinning your wheels with not much to show for it. This is especially true when it comes to your resume. Many times, job-seekers will take the same resume and use it to apply to all their opportunities. Further, they are not selective in what they apply to, and they are not concerned if their resume speaks specifically to that opportunity or not. They send their resume out in mass distribution with the hopes that it will stick somewhere.
The reality is, this approach is not only ineffective, but also reckless. Your resume’s job is to communicate to hiring authorities that you are qualified for a specific position. It should clearly state why and how you are qualified, and give quantified examples of the value you bring to the table. This is achieved by strategically tailoring your resume to each opportunity.
When you have identified an opportunity you are qualified for, you should scrub through the job announcement and identify keywords and skill sets. Get a clear understanding of exactly what they are looking for and what skills are required to be considered for the position.
Once you identify these aspects, you can rewrite your summary and key skills section on your resume to clearly communicate that you meet the employer’s needs. Use their keywords and make sure you tell them in the beginning of your resume that you “check” off all their requirements; this helps ensure hiring managers and recruiters continue to read the rest of your resume since they already know you fulfill the minimum requirements to be considered for the job. You can also review your career history section and, where possible, give specific examples of your past performance that demonstrates the skill sets needed for the job.
By strategically tailoring your resume and cover letter for each opportunity you apply to, you not only tell employer’s that you fulfill their needs, but also that you care enough about the opportunity to take the time and customize your documents. Recruiters and hiring managers can usually spot the difference between those who customized their resume, and those who didn’t. Applying strategy in this area conveys a higher level of professionalism and leaves a positive first-impression.