This is a guest post from Jessica Holbrook, an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter. Check out her bio at the end of this great article on resumes!
So many times we get caught in the heat of the job search moment. We saw a position online and we clicked to send our resume. How many times have you neglected to customize your resume before sending it out to apply for a specific position? If you’re sending the same resume to every single job then you’re hurting yourself more than you’re helping. If you’ve sent out 100 resumes and have received no responses or only one response it’s time to reassess your job search strategy and take a good long look at your resume submission practices. In this article we’ll discuss five ways to customize your resume to ensure you’ve positioned yourself as the hiring organization’s coveted ‘candidate of choice’. It means they picked you over everyone else because you were JUST THAT GOOD!
Read the job description
Better yet, don’t just read it—STUDY IT. What are they looking for? Do you have those skills, qualifications, experiences? You do? Now look at your resume; are you showing them that you have what they’re looking for? You can’t assume that just because you think you’re qualified for the position that the employer will too. You need to spell it out for them in plain, easy-to-find formatting. Take key points from the job description and then explain in your resume how you’ve met, exceeded, or had experience with them. When possible, don’t just tell them—show them through quantifiable accomplishments and contributions.
Use a detective’s eye and pull out keywords and critical requirements
If the position reads: ‘REQUIRED SKILLS’ ... and has a list of ten things, then you’d better address those ten things somewhere in your resume. If they are crucial to the job, you’d better address them first. If there are certain keywords that are relevant to the position (business-to-business sales, strategic operations, accounts payable, budget management), then make sure those keywords are in your resume.
Never, never, NEVER use an objective
They are self-serving and do not provide the hiring manager with the crucial information he or she needs to make an informed decision about whether to call you for an interview. Here is a prime example: Who, after reading this: “To obtain a position with a stable company where I can utilize my experience and education” is going to jump out of their chair and run to the phone to call and schedule an interview? Does anything about that statement make you want to hire that person? Does it tell you anything even remotely related to what they do, who they are, why they’re qualified? No. It doesn’t address any of those things. And besides, do you think they haven’t read THAT a thousand times this week?
Develop your personal brand and USE IT
What are you known for in the working world? What reputation do you have? What qualifications do you bring? And what can you do better than anyone else? Your personal brand is a combination of who you are, what you do, your talent, passion, and vision for your career, and the organizations that you lead or spend your valuable time working for. No two people will ever have the same brand. Your personal branding statement should immediately tell the hiring manager what they can expect from you as an employee and the value you will create or bring to their organization. Set yourself apart with a powerful branding statement and it will motivate the reader to take immediate action—they’ll call you!
Wow them with a powerful, effective, and personally branded cover letter
Ah, the great debate ... to cover letter or not to cover letter. If it meant the difference between getting the interview and not getting the interview wouldn’t you include it? Consider it an insurance policy. Use it; you may not need it, but use it anyway. Better safe than sorry. And for goodness’ sake ... CUSTOMIZE your cover letter. A great cover letter distinguishes you from other job seekers; it powerfully positions you as the employer’s candidate of choice, and it prompts the reader to take immediate action.
Here are two more tips to ensure you are adequately positioning yourself as the candidate of choice: When submitting a resume via e-mail, always copy and paste the cover letter into the body of the e-mail. People will read the e-mail but won’t open the cover letter attachment. Secondly, use a PS. People always read a PS. Think of something creative, memorable, and applicable. At the very least, write something like: PS: Thank you for your time and consideration of my credentials for the position of XYZ. I will follow up with you in two weeks to confirm your receipt of my information and to discuss the next step in the process.
There are many ways you can position yourself for success, but they all involve hard work, dedication, and above all else, customization. If you’re in business you know one price quote does not fit all … different services mean different prices. It is the same with job openings. Different position, different company, different requirements. One resume does not fit all. Don’t be afraid to change it. It’s OK to have more than one resume; in fact, in this job market, it’s a must!
PS: Always follow up with a thank you letter after each interview. It’s common courtesy, yet no one ever does it. Just one more way to strategically position yourself ahead of the pack.
Jessica Holbrook is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter. She has written more than 100 articles that are featured on some of the best career advice Web sites today.
As CEO of Great Resumes Fast, Jessica enjoys collaborating with forward-thinking professionals and executives, identifying their personal brand and value proposition and leveraging their unique talent, passion, and vision to position them as a leader in their industry. Her passion is helping professionals and executives uncover what makes them stand out in the crowd.
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