How Much Should Your Resume Change Based on the Job Description?

How Much Should Your Resume Change Based on the Job Description?

by Chaz Bennett, Research Recruiter, Acclivity Healthcare

Your resume is a summary of all your training, attributes and skills that make you perfectly suited for the job for which you are applying. Since these elements don’t really change very much, there is no point in modifying your resume to suit each job description, right? Actually, sending out a generic, one-size-fits-all resume can mean that it winds up in the trash can because it doesn’t adequately address the key skills and knowledge the job is seeking.

Customize to Stand Out

These days, it’s harder than ever for your resume to be seen by the right eyes. First, nearly all companies store the applications they receive in an applicant tracking system (ATS) that is optimized with those keywords that are most important to the job. Your resume needs to include those particular keywords as well. This customization also makes it more likely that your resume will pique the attention of the human resources department.

Strategies to Make Your Resume More Engaging

Customizing your resume to suit each job you apply for can seem overwhelming and time consuming. It doesn’t have to be though. Following a methodical process ensures that you hit the right areas without having to rewrite it entirely. First, add keywords that help it get through the ATS, then add some content that helps it catch the eye of the person viewing it.

  • Delve into the job description: Carefully reread the job description several times, focusing on its responsibilities, duties and requirements. Make note, also, of the job’s location and its title.
  • Modify your objective: Chances are you already have an objective on your resume but it’s likely this will need to be changed. Using the same phrasing and terminology the company used to advertise the opening. For a more trend-setting version, consider categorizing it as the “target job title.”
  • Match your skills: This section is all about how to highlight those particular skill sets that come into play with the job you are applying for. Depending on your skills and the wording of the listing, this could mean that you need to rewrite portions of your resume to bring attention to those areas or you might only have to add a few keywords here and there.
  • Put highlights at the top: Keeping highlights “above the fold” — in the top section of the paper — increases the chances of the reader grasping what you are trying to convey. For example, a short bulleted list that summarizes your experience and skills boosts the likelihood that your resume will make the cut. Three to five short bullets should be sufficient and they should note your most relevant experience.
  • Emphasize your location: Because many employers prefer to hire people who live locally, be sure that information is noted on your resume. Typically, it is placed at the top, under your name. Be sure to put only a general area or the town you live in. Never use your entire address when making this initial contact.

Once you give your resume a quick read after performing this customization, it’s not likely to need any other changes. With just a few minutes investment, you can take your resume from generic to customized — and increase your chances to get that job.