Optimize Your Resume if You Want to Get the Job


Resume writing sucks. Unless you’re a masochist (or a professional resume writer), developing a resume is an experience that most resembles a root canal. We tolerate the process, however, because we believe that a correctly-formatted resumewill help us snag a new or better job. However, that’s simply not true. In fact, most employers see your resume as a ticket to nowhere.

So why bother at all? Because writing your resume is only step one in presenting your credentials. Step two is to tailor your resume for each individual job. In other words, in today’s job market a resume is useless unless it’s written expressly for a specific employment opportunity.

The good old days of sending a generic resume with a cover letter that emphasized the relevant points for an opening are gone forever. Recruiters would tolerate that approach in the old world of work because they knew that modifying your resume was a tedious and time-consuming activity. You prepared the document on a device called a typewriter, and changing it was like re-chiseling a statue.

Today, of course, that’s no longer true. Recruiters know that it’s easy for you to modify your resume, and they expect you to do just that. Indeed, whether or not your resume has been tailored to a job is used as one of their evaluation criteria. From an employer’s perspective, anyone who’s unwilling to invest the time and effort to put their best foot forward in their resumeis probably also unwilling to make a contribution to their organization. And giving that impression with your resume will get you rejected, no matter how qualified you may be for a job.

So what resume modifications are likely to help you get noticed by recruitersand evaluated favorably? There are two key rewrites you should perform:

  1. Content

Tailoring your resume to each job opening clearly takes a lot more time than just forwarding the same old, generic document over and over again. In the good old days, job seekers were often told to mail out 500 or more resumes, as landing a job was a numbers game. Today, however, numbers matter less than precision. The more precisely you fit with a company’s open position, culture and mission, the more you will be perceived as a qualified candidate.

So you have a choice: You can apply for a ton of openings using a generic resume and get a ton of rejections (or more likely, hear nothing at all). Or, you can tailor your resume with keywords, apply for a smaller number of jobs and likely hear back from at least some of them. Think of it this way –

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