How to Create a Targeted Resume
Why You Should Create a Custom Resume for Each Job
It’s critical to write a custom resume each time you apply for a job. According to an article on Forbes.com, the average job listing has 118 applicants, but only 20 percent of those candidates will be interviewed. For high-profile jobs, the numbers of applicants can be in the thousands (consider, for example, a round-the-world travel reporter position at The New York Times, which famously received 9,000 applications.)
By creating a tailored resume focused on the skills and experiences needed for each job, you’ll stand out from the many applicants who submit a generic resume. A unique resume demonstrates that you are detail-oriented, that you’ve done your research and that you’re truly interested both in the job and the company.
Additionally, many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which are computer programs that scan your resume for keywords and determine which resumes make it to human eyes. Writing a targeted resume based on the job listing allows you to add critical keywords, which gives you a greater chance of moving onto the next round.
Connecting your mission with theirs shows that you are in sync with the company.
How to Customize Your Resume for a Job Listing
A personalized resume will set you apart from other applicants. It will take a little extra time to create a custom document for each job, but it’s worth the effort. Keep reading to learn how to make your resume stand out.
1. Use a few keywords
Taking notes as you read multiple job listings gives you insight into the types of qualifications employers are looking for. That’s critical information for uncovering keywords and matching your resume to the job description. Write down the requirements in the job posting and incorporate those keywords into your resume, using the exact terminology in the posting.
2. Consider company culture
Many companies pride themselves on company cultures that inspire growth in their employees (and, often, loyalty in their customers). Read the company’s website and check out their social media presence, to get a sense of what they value. Then, think of ways that your experience aligns with their aims.
For example, if a company’s website mentions that community and collaboration are important, think of ways you can incorporate those ideas into your resume. Perhaps you were a resident assistant in college or volunteered at a nursing home one summer. Connecting your mission with theirs shows that you are in sync with the company.
3. Use the best resume format
Depending on the job you’re applying to, your work history and education level, the type of resume format you use can make a difference in how a hiring manager perceives your skills and experience. Therefore, you should pick a format that highlights your strengths and downplays any gaps. The three resume formats are:
- Chronological, where work experience is listed in reverse chronological order
- Functional, which emphasizes your skills and qualifications
- Combination, which is a blend of both
Chronological is the most popular format, but it might not be the best choice for you, depending on the type of job for which you are applying. For example, if you’re switching careers or applying for a job after a period where you didn’t work, it might be better to utilize a functional resume, which places the focus on your transferable skills.