When was the last time you took a good look at your résumé? If you are currently in the job market, I’m sure it’s up-to-date and someone (or two!) has given it a careful look for typos. That’s not what I mean, though.

Did you know that savvy job-seekers check and tweak their Résumé for each job application they submit?

Wondering why anyone would waste their time doing that when the jobs are essentially the same? Simple. It’s not a waste of time at all. In fact, it’s a very good use of time because it can dramatically increase the odds of getting your résumé in front of human eyes.

Yes, the best practice is to give your résumé to someone in person. If you know me at all, you know I consider Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to be an evil foisted on unwitting job hunters with the goal of keeping the number of applicants a hiring manager has to consider to a trickle. Still…

Your Résumé Must Be ATS Friendly

Even if you know someone at the company, even if your best friend is carrying your résumé to the hiring manager…Heck, even if your best friend IS the hiring manager, in most organizations you’ll still be required to submit an online application.

In order for that process to work smoothly, your résumé can only do its work for you if it is tailored to a specific job posting. Most ATS software is programmed by recruiters to focus on key words related to the job. Then the software scans for when it “reads” your résumé. Think of it like a dating app – nothing in common? No match.

The language on your résumé should match the words used in the job posting as closely as possible.

That means that if the job posting says “customer service,” and your résumé says “customer support,” you change “service” to “support.” Assuming they are the same thing (which in this example they are).

Think the hiring manager wants to hire you so it doesn’t matter? Maybe. But do you really want to make her climb the mountain of explaining why you’d be a great candidate because your résumé didn’t make the cut?

Your Résumé Is an Advertisement – Not a Novel

Question: What is the goal of your résumé? If you are reading this, the only possible answer is to get an interview.

According to recent studies, recruiters spend an average of 6 SECONDS on each résumé. SIX SECONDS!  And, it’s their job. So your job is to make it as easy as possible for humans to look at your résumé and see (not read) that you’d be worth an interview.

Unlike many of my colleagues who give career advice, I’m not married to the length of your résumé. If you’ve got years of experience and held jobs over time that are relevant to the one you are applying for, I’ll be the last one to tell you that you have to keep your résumé to one page. However…Everything that you have on your résumé, from adjectives to details of your job responsibilities has to have a good reason for being there that is directly related to the demands of the role.

The best résumés are like the best advertisements – they capture my attention and make me want to try something new.

The best résumés include the experiences, skills and abilities that relate precisely to the job you want. They exclude anything that’s not directly relevant to the hiring manager.  If I have to read, actually read your résumé to learn about what you offer – it’s not working for you.

Know someone whose résumé could use a professional review? Forward this email and have them reach out!


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